Masculine Gender

What Is the Masculine Gender?

homesitemapA-Z grammar terms masculine gender
Masculine gender is one of three genders in English grammar. The three genders for nouns and pronouns are as follows:

Table of Contents

  • Masculine Pronouns
  • "Find the Masculine Words" Test
  • Why the Masculine Gender Is Important
  • Video Lesson
  • Test Time!
gender in grammar
If the word does not denote something obviously masculine or feminine, then it is a neuter word.

Masculine Pronouns

In the table below, the singular masculine pronouns are in the shaded row:
GenderPronounPossessive Determiner
(a type of pronoun)
Possessive Pronoun
masculine pronounshe
Example: He is warm.
Example: Those are his tools.
Example: Those are his.
feminine pronounsshe
Example: She is warm.
Example: Those are her shoes.
Example: These are hers.
neuter pronounsit
Example: It is warm.
Example: Those are its toys.
(not used)
Unless its 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. Here are two noteworthy points related to gender:
  • Large machines. Large machines such as ships and trains, which - by default - are neuter, are sometimes affectionately given a female gender (i.e., referred to as "she" or "her").
  • Animals. An animal is referred to as "it." It is only referred to as "he" or "she" when the sex is known.

"Find the Masculine Words" Test

Can You Identify Words with Masculine Gender?

Why the Masculine Gender Is Important

There are three noteworthy issues related to masculine gender.

(Issue 1) Finding an alternative to "his/her."

In the past,"he" or "his" was used in documents to denote "his or her." This is no longer an acceptable practice, and "their" is used instead. Look at these sentences:
  • Every person must remember which horses he rode. wrong cross
  • Anyone who neglects his responsibility will be sacked. wrong cross
These are only correct if all the people are male. Using "he" or "his" for unknown people was the accepted practice in the past, but no longer.

Here are some options:
  • Every person must remember which horses he/she rode.
  • Anyone who neglects his/her responsibility will be sacked.
These are okay, but they're clumsy solutions. These are better versions:
  • Every person must remember which horses they rode. correct tick
  • Anyone who neglects their responsibility will be sacked. correct tick
Read more about singular "they" and "their."

(Issue 2) Choosing the right version of "blonde/blond."

The word "blond/blonde" changes depending on its gender.

"Blond" is a noun meaning a fair-haired male.
  • The blond has a unique dancing style. correct tick (for a boy)
"Blond" is also an adjective used to describe anybody (regardless of their gender) with fair hair.
  • The blond girl and the blond boy make a nice blond couple.
  • (When it's an adjective, "blond" can be used for all genders.)
"Blonde" is a noun meaning a fair-haired female.
  • The blonde has a unique dancing style. correct tick (for a girl)
"Blonde" is also an adjective used to describe a female (or females) with fair hair.
  • The blonde girl and the blond boy make a nice blond couple.
  • (As an adjective, "blonde" or "blond" can be used to describe females.)

(Issue 3) Using gender-neutral pronouns for people who do not identify themselves as either male or female.

Some people identify as non-binary; i.e. they do not identify as male or female. These people might ask you to use "they" (and of course "their," "them," "theirs," "themself") or just their name instead of a pronoun (e.g., "Sarah," "Sarah's," "Sarah's self") when talking about them. Read more about using non-binary pronouns.

Key Points

Video Lesson

Here is 9-minute video summarizing grammatical gender in English. video lesson

Are you a visual learner? Do you prefer video to text? Here is a list of all our grammar videos.

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This page was written by Craig Shrives.

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