What Is the Masculine Gender? (with Examples)

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Masculine Gender (English Grammar)

Masculine gender is one of three genders in English grammar. The three genders for nouns and pronouns are as follows:
gender in grammar
If the word does not denote something obviously masculine or feminine, then it is a neuter word.

Click on Two Masculine Nouns

Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Getting ready...
Here are the associated singular pronouns:
GenderPronounPossessive Determiner
(a type of pronoun)
Possessive Pronoun
masculine pronounshe
Example: He is warm.
his
Example: Those are his tools.
his
Example: Those are his.
feminine pronounsshe
Example: She is warm.
her
Example: Those are her shoes.
hers
Example: These are hers.
neuter pronounsit
Example: It is warm.
its
Example: Those are its toys.
its
Example: These are its. (rare)

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.

Why Should I Care about Masculine Gender?

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.
  • Anyone who neglects his responsibility will be sacked.
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.
  • Anyone who neglects their responsibility will be sacked.
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. (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 a unique dancing style. (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.

A Video Summary

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

Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

What is gender? What are nouns? What are pronouns? What is the feminine gender? What is the neuter gender? What are possessive adjective? What are absolute possessive pronouns? Glossary of grammatical terms