English Grammar Basic Grammar and syntax

What is gender neutral? (with examples)

What is gender neutral? (with examples)

The neuter gender is one of the three genders in English grammar. The three genders of nouns and pronouns are as follows:

  • masculine
  • female
  • neuter

The associated singular pronouns are:

Gender Pronoun Possessive Determiner
(a type of pronoun)
Possessive Pronoun
masculine pronouns he
Example: He is cold.
Example: These are his boots.
Example: These are his.
feminine pronouns she
Example: She is cold.
Example: These are her earrings.
Example: These are hers.
neuter pronouns it
Example: It is cold.
Example: These are its toys.
Example: These are its. (rare)

A menos que su significado lo haga obviamente masculino (p. ej.,“niño“,“rey“,“wild pig“) or feminine (e.g.,“princesa“,“chicken“,“horse“), an English noun is neuter by default. Here are two notable gender-related points:

  • Large machines. Large machines like ships and trains, which are neutral by default, are sometimes affectionately assigned a female gender (i.e., referred to as“ella“o“ella“).
  • Animals. An animal is known as a“it’s“. it is only called“the“o“ella“when the sex is known.

Why Should I Care about Neuter Gender?

There are three noteworthy issues related to gender neutrality.

(Issue 1) There’s no apostrophe in the neuter possessive determiner“its.“

Look at the following list of nouns and their possessive determiners:

  • A king and his son
    (“His“is the possessive determiner for something of masculine gender.)
  • A queen and her dog
    (“Her“is the possessive determiner for something of feminine gender.)
  • A shark and its prey
    (“Its“is the possessive determiner for something of neuter gender.)

Note that there is no apostrophe in its.

“It’s“(with an apostrophe) is a contraction of“it is“or“it has.“If you can’t expand your“it’s“to“it is“or“it has,“then it is wrong. That is a 100% rule!

(Issue 2) Finding an alternative to“his/her.“

In English, there is no singular, neuter possessive determiner for persons. in other words, the singular possessive determiner“its“cannot be used for a person whose gender is unknown. For example:

  • Each student must ensure its guest signs the registry. ❌
    (“Its“cannot be used for people.)

In the past,“he“or“his“was used to denote“his or her.“This is no longer an acceptable practice, and“their“is used instead. For example:

  • Each student must ensure his guest signs the registry. ❌
    (This is an outdated practice.)
  • Each student must ensure his/her guest signs the registry. ❌
    (This is clumsy as well as outdated.)
  • Each student must ensure their guest signs the registry. ✔️
    (This is now the accepted solution.)

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

Algunas personas se identifican como“non binary“. This means that they do not identify as male or female or both. These people may ask you to use“they“(y“are“,“they“,“his“,“themselves“) or simply their name in place of a pronoun (eg,“Terry“,“Terry’s“,“Terry’s self“).“) when talking about them.

Key Points

  • There is no apostrophe in the possessive determiner“its“. if you write“es“, try expanding it to“es“o“have“. If you can’t, then it’s wrong.
  • When writing about someone whose gender is unknown, do not use“he she“,“his her“, etc. Use“they“,“are“, etc. Por ejemplo:
    • Any person who thinks he/she needs they need an interview should book one through his/her their line manager
  • Usa“they“when you talk about a non-binary person.

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