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    #1

    nature - feminine or neuter ?

    Is "nature" feminine or neuter?
    I have been hearing people say "nature herself" instead of "nature itself".
    Is it admissible or correct to say "nature herself"?
    (What about "nature himself", no room at all?)

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: nature - feminine or neuter ?

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    Is "nature" feminine or neuter?
    I have been hearing people say "nature herself" instead of "nature itself".
    Is it admissible or correct to say "nature herself"?
    (What about "nature himself", no room at all?)
    Historically (for reasons I can't tell you), it's been Mother Nature so I guess by default, if anything, it's feminine.

    Mother Nature
    Old Father Time

    Cars and boats are commonly referred to as "she" too.

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    #3

    Re: nature - feminine or neuter ?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Historically (for reasons I can't tell you), it's been Mother Nature so I guess by default, if anything, it's feminine.

    Mother Nature
    Old Father Time

    Cars and boats are commonly referred to as "she" too.
    Thanks emsr2d2! Thank you not just for the direct answer but also for the important comments regarding "Father Time" and the common feminine usage of "cars" and "boats".

    Remarkably enough "nature itself" has produced more hits than "nature herself" in the google search engine here.

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    #4

    Re: nature - feminine or neuter ?

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    Thanks emsr2d2! Thank you not just for the direct answer but also for the important comments regarding "Father Time" and the common feminine usage of "cars" and "boats".

    Remarkably enough "nature itself" has produced more hits than "nature herself" in the google search engine here.
    I'm not surprised that "nature itself" crops up more often as I'm sure that in all "serious" writing, no gender would be given. When I said "if anything, it's feminine" I meant "it's certainly not masculine"! However, neutral is bound to win out in any language which doesn't give a gender to nouns.

    I would expect anyone who is going to use it, to probably say "Mother Nature herself" or at least "Nature herself", with a capital "N" as if it were a proper noun.

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    #5

    Re: nature - feminine or neuter ?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    I'm not surprised that "nature itself" crops up more often as I'm sure that in all "serious" writing, no gender would be given. When I said "if anything, it's feminine" I meant "it's certainly not masculine"! However, neutral is bound to win out in any language which doesn't give a gender to nouns.

    I would expect anyone who is going to use it, to probably say "Mother Nature herself" or at least "Nature herself", with a capital "N" as if it were a proper noun.
    Oh, I think I've read you previously too quickly. Sorry about that. It's OK now.

    Do you affirm that in English there are only two "genders", that is, feminine and masculine - so that "neuter" is not a "gender" at all? I mean, in some languages, German for instance, there are clearly three distinct "genders". By the way, am I using the word "gender" correctly or is there another better one here?

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    #6

    Re: nature - feminine or neuter ?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    I'm not surprised that "nature itself" crops up more often as I'm sure that in all "serious" writing, no gender would be given. When I said "if anything, it's feminine" I meant "it's certainly not masculine"! However, neutral is bound to win out in any language which doesn't give a gender to nouns.

    I would expect anyone who is going to use it, to probably say "Mother Nature herself" or at least "Nature herself", with a capital "N" as if it were a proper noun.

    I agree. "Nature herself" is more associated with poetic or creative writing, or evocative descriptions. It should not be used in scientific text!



    It was a beautiful day. Nature herself had smiled on the earth: everything seemed green and gold.

    While it is possible to cross-pollinate these two varieties of cacti, this does not happen in nature itself as their natural habitats are too far apart. It has only been done in lab conditions.



    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    Do you affirm that in English there are only two "genders", that is, feminine and masculine - so that "neuter" is not a "gender" at all? I mean, in some languages, German for instance, there are clearly three distinct "genders". By the way, am I using the word "gender" correctly or is there another better one here?
    Well, in English nouns don't officially have a gender at all. Gender based pronouns etc are based on the real-life gender of the person/animal. Inanimate objects are therefore all "it".

    There are a couple of rare exceptions where inanimate items may take a feminine or masculine pronoun but in such cases it is purely because they are being personified, and treated as animate, not because of a grammatical reason. As said above, ships and cars are often regarded as having a peculiarly feminine personality, and may in expressive writing be referred to as "she". I've also heard it with some cities, as well. "She's a cruel town, New York. She'll eat you up and spit you out as quick as look at you." Again, it's personification of New York as a human, and thus having a real gender - and in this case a feminine one.
    Last edited by Tullia; 22-Aug-2010 at 01:06.

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    #7

    Re: nature - feminine or neuter ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tullia View Post
    "Nature herself" is more associated with poetic or creative writing, or evocative descriptions. It should not be used in scientific text!
    Now I think I can use the expression "remarkably enough", here we go:

    Remarkably enough, I have just heard the expression "Nature herself" in a scientific lecture. Physicists do like to use it.

    But I reckon they use it in situations of stressing and admiring "Nature wonders and mysteries". After all "Nature" is not something that easy to understand.

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    #8

    Re: nature - feminine or neuter ?

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    Oh, I think I've read you previously too quickly. Sorry about that. It's OK now.

    Do you affirm that in English there are only two "genders", that is, feminine and masculine - so that "neuter" is not a "gender" at all? I mean, in some languages, German for instance, there are clearly three distinct "genders". By the way, am I using the word "gender" correctly or is there another better one here?
    If you're talking about the same sort of "gender" as exists in German (das, der, die etc) then English has no gender use at all. Obviously, people and animals are either male or female but that's solely based on anatomical qualities!

    We have one definite article (the), two indefinite articles (a/an), and our adjectives don't change based on the noun that they're describing.

    You're using the word "gender" correctly as far as language is concerned, but in BrE it is simply another word for "sex" (the noun, not the verb). It's not used when talking about language unless we're talking about a foreign language!

    What sex was your baby?
    What gender is the child?

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    #9

    Exclamation Re: nature - feminine or neuter ?

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    But I reckon they use it in situations of stressing and admiring "Nature wonders and mysteries". After all "Nature" is not something that easy to understand.
    I do agree, whether we call it God's Nature or human nature both are mysterious and full of wonders.
    It is said that the Almighty God and the total material substance called Nature, are One and the same. God is observer and inactive where as Nature is energetic, changeable and active. As a matter of fact, they are the two sides of the same coin. The Nature is the mother and the Almighty God is the seed-giving father, as result of which creation of all species of life is made possible. As God controls the Universe by His nature so also every created living being is controlled by his/her/its nature. But the difference is that while God is not controlled by His nature, the embodied soul of a living being is under the control of his nature which has three qualities, of material nature: goodness, passion and ignorance. Therefore it is difficult to understand a persons nature.

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    #10

    Re: nature - feminine or neuter ?

    Quote Originally Posted by sarat_106 View Post
    I do agree, whether we call it God's Nature or human nature both are mysterious and full of wonders.
    It is said that the Almighty God and the total material substance called Nature, are One and the same. God is observer and inactive where as Nature is energetic, changeable and active. As a matter of fact, they are the two sides of the same coin. The Nature is the mother and the Almighty God is the seed-giving father, as result of which creation of all species of life is made possible. As God controls the Universe by His nature so also every created living being is controlled by his/her/its nature. But the difference is that while God is not controlled by His nature, the embodied soul of a living being is under the control of his nature which has three qualities, of material nature: goodness, passion and ignorance. Therefore it is difficult to understand a persons nature.
    Wise words, to read and reread. Thanks sarat_106!

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