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  1. #1
    Nightmare85's Avatar
    Nightmare85 is offline Senior Member
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    handsome and beautiful

    Hello,
    I learned this rule in these forums:
    When you talk about a woman you usually use beautiful.
    She is a beautiful woman.

    When you talk about a man you usually use handsome.
    He is a handsome man.

    Okay, but what would you say here:
    (Someone asks a boy this question)
    Is your mother as beautiful/handsome as you?

    What would you use?
    I think it's a tricky situation

    Cheers!

  2. #2
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    Re: handsome and beautiful

    Well, I wouldn´t ask BUT the best way (after not asking) would be to use "good looking".


    Idun - norse goddess of love and knowledge

  3. #3
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    Re: handsome and beautiful

    I would be inclined to use a more generic word, like "attractive". If that's not allowed, then "handsome" can be used with women (although it's not common, and sounds somewhat archaic), whereas you would not use "beautiful" with a male.

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: handsome and beautiful

    I'd take a slightly different position on handsome/beautiful- if a man's attractiveness has something feminine about it, then 'beautiful' could be used, and 'handsome' for a woman with something masculine about her.

  5. #5
    TheParser is online now VIP Member
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    Re: handsome and beautiful

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare85 View Post
    Hello,
    I learned this rule in these forums:
    When you talk about a woman you usually use beautiful.
    She is a beautiful woman.

    When you talk about a man you usually use handsome.
    He is a handsome man.

    Okay, but what would you say here:
    (Someone asks a boy this question)
    Is your mother as beautiful/handsome as you?

    What would you use?
    I think it's a tricky situation

    Cheers!
    ***NOT A TEACHER***You probably already know this, but if you don't: Here in the United States, we talk about "the beautiful people." It refers to people of both genders who live lives of privilege.

  6. #6
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    Re: handsome and beautiful

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I'd take a slightly different position on handsome/beautiful- if a man's attractiveness has something feminine about it, then 'beautiful' could be used, and 'handsome' for a woman with something masculine about her.
    In my experience, in the first instance (referring to an effeminate male), "pretty" would be more likely than "beautiful".

    In the second instance ("handsome woman"), I disagree. Note, for example, this from the Urban Dictionary:

    Handsome Woman

    A woman with the kind of refined beauty and attractiveness that requires poise, dignity, and strength of mind and character, things that often come with age; not merely sex-appeal. Usually applied to a woman who is also very well-groomed and from an upper class background.

    This phrase is very dated and rarely used in today's English. Those who don't understand the term could almost be insulted by the word "handsome" being applied to a woman, mistakenly thinking you're saying she is masculine.

    "Though she had lost long ago her virginal loveliness, she had ripened into a handsome and fruitful looking woman." - Ellen Glasgow

    "What a handsome woman she has become; she carries herself so well".

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