If you've ever worked on a cantankerous old car, you might see that the feelings do not always have to be "tender" in order to speak of her that way.this personification of nouns realized through referring to them as "she" is a figure of speech of sorts or a peculiar term of endearment used to express tender feelings towards objects
Come to think of it, there are English words that have gender, but of course they have etymologies that support genders. Fiance (male) vs. fiancee (female) comes to mind–I never put in accents. But, this seems more like gender pronouns (“he”, “she”) to me, because it's not an arbitrary distinction; the masculine form is used to describe a man, while the feminine form a woman.
fiancé/fiancée (for info, I always put the accent on the é)
As you said though, they have etymologies which are gender-based. Both the examples above are from French.
I suppose learners of a foreign language are always after some rule or another knowing full well that in the absence of any they face the formidable task of having to learn every single instance by heart.
So let me have another shot at it and broaden the definition of situations in which an inanimate noun might be referred to as "he" or "she". Perhaps an ordinary inanimate noun is likely to be tinted with a feminine gender when it is strongly felt about (be the feeling good or bad). Also if I am not mistaken cyclones are given female names.
If this my last attempt at putting a finger on it misfires I will chose to steer clear of the 'unchartered waters' in my (limited anyway) use of English.
Yes, your new statement is better. I would still caution any learner to avoid using such gender references. It can easily sound like you are not aware that English doesn't normally work that way.
And hurricanes (as cyclones are known in the Atlantic) are now named with alternating male and female names. They used to be all named for girls, but now we have to be politically correct.
1. From this particular remark one can conclude that 'reference to things in such a way' is based purely on native speaker's instinct and therefore the 'when' rule is quite impossible of definition.
2. Point taken.
3. It is my pleasure to thank the members of this FORUM for its existence.