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What Is the Neuter Gender? (with Examples)

What Is the Neuter Gender? (with Examples)

Neuter gender is one of three genders in English grammar. The three genders for nouns and pronouns are: The associated singular pronouns are:

GenderPronounPossessive Adjective
(a type of pronoun)
Absolute Possessive Pronoun
masculine pronounshe
Example: He is cold.
his
Example: These are his boots.
his
Example: These are his.
feminine pronounsshe
Example: She is cold.
her
Example: These are her earrings.
hers
Example: These are hers.
neuter pronounsit
Example: It is cold.
its
Example: These are its toys.
its
Example: These are its. (rare)

Unless the meaning makes it obviously male (e.g., boy, king, boar) or female (e.g., princess, hen, mare), a noun in English is neuter by default.

Large machines (e.g., ships, trains, cranes) are neuter by default. However, sometimes they are affectionally given a feminine gender (i.e., called she).

By default, an animal is referred to as it. However, if the sex is known, it will be called he or she.
Beware

THE POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVE IS ITS NOT IT'S

The neuter possessive adjective is its. It is not it's. The contraction it's means it is or it has. (This is a 100% rule.)

It is a serious grammar mistake to use it's for the neuter possessive adjective.

Read more about its and it's.
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Note

You Can Use he to Mean He and She

In formal writing, you can use he to represent he and she. Likewise, his is used for his and her. For example:
  • Please ask your guest to sign his/her name on his/her ticket.
  • (This is not wrong, but it's unwieldy.)
  • Please ask your guest to sign his name on his ticket.
  • (This in an acceptable alternative.)