Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: He, she, or it?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    3
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default He, she, or it?

    Hello! I'm a teacher of English from Russia. In all our textbooks it is written that "personal pronous 'he' and 'she' are used when referring people. The pronoun 'it' is used when speaking of lifeless things. 'It' is also used in reference to animals, when their sex is unknown or unimportant". And I've got a question about cows and hens. Their sex is known to us, because 'cow' is a female and 'bull' is a male (the same can be said about hens and roosters). So, should 'a cow' be replaced with 'she' or 'it' (when it is obvious that a cow cannot be 'he')?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    2,036
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: He, she, or it?

    Quote Originally Posted by MADchen View Post
    Hello! I'm a teacher of English from Russia. In all our textbooks it is written that "personal pronous 'he' and 'she' are used when referring people. The pronoun 'it' is used when speaking of lifeless things. 'It' is also used in reference to animals, when their sex is unknown or unimportant". And I've got a question about cows and hens. Their sex is known to us, because 'cow' is a female and 'bull' is a male (the same can be said about hens and roosters). So, should 'a cow' be replaced with 'she' or 'it' (when it is obvious that a cow cannot be 'he')?
    I've heard this question before. We use "he" and "she" to refer to animals all the time. There's no problem with it.

    Sometimes people refer to machinery with "she". Men who are really into cars might say "she's running really good now". That's colloquial and nonstandard "good", by the way. We don't use "good" as an adverb. It's an adjective. You could get ticketed by the grammar police for doing so.

    Take a look at this: "she's running good" car - Google Search=

    Now before anyone gets bent out of shape, let me just say I'm not advocating using this sentence "she's running good". It's just part of the reality of how some people speak. Comprende?

    good: Definition, Synonyms from Answers.com

    USAGE NOTE Good is properly used as an adjective with linking verbs such as be, seem, or appear: The future looks good. The soup tastes good. It should not be used as an adverb with other verbs: The car runs well (not good). Thus, The dress fits well and looks good. See Usage Notes at well2.
    Last edited by PROESL; 06-Sep-2009 at 05:20.

  3. #3
    Amigos4's Avatar
    Amigos4 is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    33,335
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: He, she, or it?

    "My dog is a German Shepherd. He is a good dog!"

    This sentence is perfectly acceptable to a native speaker!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    3
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: He, she, or it?

    Quote Originally Posted by amigos4 View Post
    "My dog is a German Shepherd. He is a good dog!"

    This sentence is perfectly acceptable to a native speaker!
    Thank you for the answer. I've heard that such sentences are quite OK concerning pets (e. g. I know that my friend's cat is a male and I say: 'He scratched me yesterday'). But when I look out of the window and say to someone: 'Look, that's a cow! She's going along the road!' (Such things happen in our town) What is better here: 'she' or 'it'?
    P.S. Excuse me for being such a bore

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    2,036
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: He, she, or it?

    Quote Originally Posted by MADchen View Post
    Thank you for the answer. I've heard that such sentences are quite OK concerning pets (e. g. I know that my friend's cat is a male and I say: 'He scratched me yesterday'). But when I look out of the window and say to someone: 'Look, that's a cow! She's going along the road!' (Such things happen in our town) What is better here: 'she' or 'it'?
    P.S. Excuse me for being such a bore
    Just say, "Look! There's a cow".

    People use "he" or "she" to refer to animals if they are pets or if they take care of them in some way. Zookeepers could be inclined to use "he" and "she" when referring to animals at their zoo.

    If you see a cow walking along the street, use "it", as in "What's it doing walking along the street!" The reason it's best not to use "she" is that you don't know this animal. If you were a farmer, you could use "she" or "he" to refer to a cow, a horse, or a dog on your farm.
    Last edited by PROESL; 06-Sep-2009 at 08:51.

  6. #6
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    19,871
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: He, she, or it?

    Quote Originally Posted by MADchen View Post
    Thank you for the answer. I've heard that such sentences are quite OK concerning pets (e. g. I know that my friend's cat is a male and I say: 'He scratched me yesterday'). But when I look out of the window and say to someone: 'Look, that's a cow! She's going along the road!' (Such things happen in our town) What is better here: 'she' or 'it'?
    P.S. Excuse me for being such a bore
    If you're the type of person who can tell a cow from a bull, you can use 'she'.
    Same with other farm animals. If you live in a city, it's probably best not to try.

  7. #7
    konungursvia's Avatar
    konungursvia is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    4,808
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: He, she, or it?

    Bulls have two more things on their heads, it's easy! ;)

    Incidentally, I've heard native English speakers use "it" for babies, as they do in German: "Das Kind."

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    3
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: He, she, or it?

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    Incidentally, I've heard native English speakers use "it" for babies, as they do in German: "Das Kind."
    "Das Maedchen" ist auch Neutrum auf Deutsch :)
    P.S. Sorry, I couldn't help mentioning that.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •