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Gender Nouns

1. Nouns with gender forms

In English usually he or she is used for people and it for things. But there are some exceptions.

male (masculine) female (feminine)
brother sister
nephew niece
boyfriend girlfriend
actor actress
waiter waitress
policeman policewoman
prince princess
widow widower

There are nouns which have the same form for masculine and feminine, e.g. cousin, doctor, singer, student, teacher. An extra word identifies the gender – boyfriend/girlfriend. The ending -ess indicates a female person – waiter/waitress.

2. Exceptions – Animals

People sometimes call animals he or she if they are thought of as having a personality. This is especially true for pets and domesticated animals.

  • Where is the dog? He is in the garden.

3. Exceptions – Ships, cars, motorbikes

For cars, motorbikes and ships people often use she.

  • How’s your car? – Oh she’s running beautifully.
  • The ship hit a rock and she sank.