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English Gender of Nouns: Masculine and Feminine – Learn the Ultimate Rule with Examples

    Are you grappling with the concept of masculine and feminine nouns in English? You’re not alone. Understanding grammatical gender can be a challenge for many English students. But don’t worry! This comprehensive article will unveil the complexities of masculine and feminine nouns, providing you with the necessary knowledge to speak and write in English with confidence.

    English grammatical gender

    To begin with and in practical terms, English grammatical gender applies only to nouns and pronouns‏‎ which are feminine, masculine, or neutral. These groups are very simple to make and as a general guide, masculine refers to boys and men, feminine refers to girls and women, while neutral is everything else. 

    In practical terms, when referring to these entities using pronouns, it’s essential or very important to use the correct pronouns: masculine, feminine, or neutral. For example, 

    «See that gentleman. He is my Lecturer.»

    «See that lady, she is my teacher.»

    «See that desk, it is mine.»

    Genders of Nouns in Sentences

    Once you’ve determined the gender of a noun, you can use it correctly in sentences. In English, the gender of your noun affects the pronoun that is used. For example, the pronoun “he” refers to a masculine noun, while the pronoun “she” is refers to a feminine noun.

    In addition, the gender of a noun affects verb conjugation. For example, the verb “to be” is conjugated differently when used with a masculine noun (“he is”) and a feminine noun (“she is”).

    If you aren’t sure which pronouns to use, you can always use the neutral “they” in your sentences to refer to people whose gender identity isn’t binary, or you can always ask them for their preferred pronouns.

    In English, we also use different names for people depending on whether they are male or female…For example:

    MasculineFeminine
    BridegroomBride
    BrotherSister
    HusbandWife
    NephewNiece
    SonDaughter
    UncleAunt
    WidowerWidow

    Animals also have masculine and feminine forms; these are some common ones:

    MasculineFeminine
    BullCow
    CockHen
    FoxVixen
    LionLioness
    StallionMare
    TigerTigress

    Some jobs also have masculine and feminine forms; these are some common ones

    MasculineFeminine
    DukeDuchess
    HeroHeroine
    KingQueen
    MonkNun
    PolicemanPolicewoman
    SpokesmanSpokeswoman
    WaiterWaitress
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    Gender-Specific Pronouns

    These are pronouns that specifically denote gender:

    Masculine: He, Him, His

    Feminine: She, Her, Hers

    Objects and Personification

    Neutral Objects: most objects are considered neutral, but when personified, they can take on masculine or feminine pronouns. For example,

    «Britain called on her allies to help fight the threat.» So, we are using the pronoun her for Britain. Note that sometimes, people talk about their countries as being the motherland or the fatherland.

    Rules for Forming Feminine Nouns 

    One common rule for forming feminine nouns is adding suffixes to the base word. For example,

    “-ess”: actor/actress, host/hostess. So, you notice here that we added the suffix ess. Another example is,

    hero/ heroine. Here we added the suffix ‘ine’ to the base word. 

    We can also change the Vowel Sounds: In some cases, changing the vowel sound or modifying the word can create feminine nouns from masculine nouns: For example, 

    man/woman.

    sir/madam

    Exceptions or Irregularities in Forming Feminine Nouns

    Some nouns do not have a distinct feminine form so they can be used for both males and females. For example:

    doctor, lawyer, teacher

    Let’s talk about gender-neutral terms: some nouns have evolved to become gender-neutral, avoiding the need for specific feminine forms. For example, we have:

    actor, author, athlete

    Let’s practice!

    Great! Now, let’s look at some exercises. 

    Exercise: Identify the Gender

    Write whether the following nouns are either feminine, masculine or neutral. 

    1. Actor ________

    2. Dog ________

    3. Queen ________

    4. Nurse ________

    5. Lion ________

    6. Author________

    7. Waitress ________

    8. Cousin ________

    9. Teacher ________

    10. Soldier ________

    Please do not forget to leave your answers in the comment section below. In the next video, we will learn how to form Singular and Plurals.

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