Gender in English: masculine and feminine words (2023)

Are there masculine or feminine words in English? In general, English nouns do not distinguish between masculine and feminine. But sometimes we show gender in other words when referring to humans or animals. In this article we explain the genre in English in more detail.

We dedicate this specific article to IELTS Grammar 101International Women's Day 2020Gender in English: masculine and feminine words (1)🇧🇷 We celebrate International Women's Day (WDI) on March 8 each year. On this day we honor the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year's theme is #EachforEqual.

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What is "gender" in language?

About a quarter of the world's languages ​​use gender. Technically, gender in languages ​​is just a way of dividing nouns into classes or categories. A noun is a part of speech that designates a person, place, thing, idea, action or quality. For example, nouns can refer to a person's individual name, such as B. Mike or Amrita. It can also refer to a place or a thing. Examples of nouns can beSidneyGender in English: masculine and feminine words (3),Louis VuittonGender in English: masculine and feminine words (4), ÖQantasGender in English: masculine and feminine words (5)🇧🇷 In some languages, nouns like qantas can be masculine or feminine. Female male.

It is important to distinguish between grammatical and natural gender. Natural sex is simply the biological sex of a person, animal or character. Grammatical gender is a way of classifying nouns. However, this does not always correspond to the "natural sex" of the person or object depicted.

In some languages, grammatical gender is more than just "masculine" or "feminine". Some languages ​​have a "neutral" class. Other languages ​​have different genders for animate and inanimate objects. See how it works in other languages.

English makes our lives a little easier when it comes to gender and grammar.

Are there masculine and feminine words in English?

In general, the English language does not distinguish between masculine and feminine. But sometimes we show gender in other words when referring to humans or animals.

List of masculine and feminine words in English:
MaleFemalegender neutral

How does gender work in foreign languages?

In English, we don't assign gender to words. But how does gender work in foreign languages? For Italians, boys (il bambino) are men. The girls (la bambina), on the other hand, are women. The Germans, for example, assign three different genders to the three basic eating utensils: The fork is female. A knife (the knife) is neutral. And finally, a spoon (the spoon) is male. Interestingly, German does not assign gender to a young girl (dasGirl).

Of course, German isn't the only language that considers inanimate objects to be "male" or "female". Nor is it the only language that assigns living beings a grammatical gender alien to their sex. For example, in Irish, girl (cailín) is masculine, while stud (stail) is feminine. The list goes on. If you want to know more, seethis little articleGender in English: masculine and feminine words (6).

Why is a ship called "she"?

Interestingly, there are some phrases in modern English that qualify as "feminine" at least in a poetic or pictorial sense. These include, for example, ships, countries and churches.

Therefore, ships are sometimes called "she" in English. For example: “I traveled from England to New York on the Queen Elizabeth; she (the Queen Elizabeth) is a great ship.”

a naval historianprovides an explanationGender in English: masculine and feminine words (7)why could this be. As we have seen, other languages ​​have "masculine", "feminine", and sometimes "neutral" words. But in English, neutral words like "the" or "it" are usually used. Making ships feminine and calling them "she" is an example of an old English language practice. Because? Because it gives gender to an inanimate object. It is worth noting that Lloyd's Register of Shipping now calls ships "it".

There are also other examples of gender in English:

  • I love my car It (the car) is my biggest passion.

  • France is currently popular with its (French) neighbors.

  • I traveled from England to New York on the Queen Elizabeth; she (Queen Elizabeth) is a magnificent vessel.

So if you're not a native English speaker and want to impress someone with your language skills, refer to a ship or country by the word "she". "The Titanic sank in 1912, right?" But you must be careful. It might make you look a little pretentious. It's also not very gender specific.

What is gender-sensitive language?

We have seen why some words are called "they". In fact, we use "man" and words ending in "-man" a lot more as gendered nouns in English. Let's consider the example "Fireman". We don't actually say "fireman" in English. butWomen certainly fight firesGender in English: masculine and feminine words (8)🇧🇷 The firefighter has always been a predominantly male profession.

At the same time, traditionally feminine nouns like actress and waitress are becoming rarer. There are many examples where the masculine term "actor" and "waiter" is used today to refer to both men and women.

That's why language is important

ONElanguage teacher explainedGender in English: masculine and feminine words (9)that the language we use not only reflects our culture, but also constructs it. This means that language can create expectations about how people should be. When you see a job posting online and say, "Waiter Wanted Now!" implies that they are looking for a man, not a woman. How many men do you think would respond to an ad asking for "waitresses"?

The same goes for the fire department or the police. The more we use those words, the more people expect these jobs to be done by men. However, there are very few jobs that require one gender to play the role rather than being open to both.

Fortunately, you can easily identify these English gender words. And it's also very easy to replace them with a neutral language. We have a list of example words with gender.

Genre-specific word list

gender noungender neutral noun
menhuman, individual
humanitypeople, people, humanity
first year studentfirst year student
artificiallymachine-made, synthetic, artificial
the common manthe average person
presidentPresident, President, Coordinator, Leader
mailmanpostman, postman, postman
butler, stewardessflight attendant
actor actressator
Congressmanlegislature, congressman
Mr. (in "Dear Sir", etc.)Ladies and gentlemen, dear editor, dear members of the selection committee, to whom it concerns
waiter waitressserver or waiter
women Menpeople or everyone
boyfriend boyfriend girlfriendpartner, partner
seller, sellerseller or sales representative

Why use gender-sensitive language?

So why would you use gendered language? It's good to use words that avoid gender or gender bias. In the list of gendered languages, you can see terms like "president". This word contains the -man component. However, women are equally capable of occupying very important positions. Using the term President means the same thing, but demonstrates the inclusion of all people, regardless of biological sex.

  • By not using a word ending in "-man" as a standard for specific jobs, we can normalize the notion that anyone can do a job, regardless of gender identity.

How gendered are you? Test yourself.

“A father and his son are involved in a car accident and are taken to the hospital. The father dies. The child is taken into the operating room and the surgeon says, "I cannot operate on this child because it is my child."

How is this possible?

Check your answer below

How can you use gender-specific language in your IELTS Writing and Speaking test?

The IELTS Speaking test is designed to represent a normal conversation between two people, but it is also an opportunity to demonstrate your language skills. See how you can impress your examiner with gender-neutral words. When talking about jobs, use "salesman" instead of "salesman". Makes sense, doesn't it?

You may achieve a higher IELTS band score if you demonstrate the ability to use idioms appropriately, but you may be limited to common idioms that are familiar. We provide some useful lists without ourA-Z Expressions: Explained.

check your answer

About 40-75% of people fail to solve this puzzle because they cannot imagine that the surgeon is a woman. The surgeon is the child's mother.

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