Gender in English Grammar – Types

In English grammar, there are eight parts of speech. Among them, nouns and pronouns are something that we all are acquainted with. But today, our focus is not nouns but a property of nouns. In general, nouns and pronouns have many properties. Our topic, gender, is one of them.

Gender in English grammar can be simply understood as a classification of nouns and pronouns. As the word itself suggests, it is a category or property of a noun that describes a particular sexual identity. It is basically the set of words that shows the difference between nouns in terms of sex.

There are mainly four genders in English grammar that help identify the sexuality of a noun or a pronoun. Each has its unique set of rules and classifications. So, let us get into a quick discussion below to learn them thoroughly.

What is gender in English grammar?

By definition, we can state that gender in English grammar is simply the sexual classification of nouns and pronouns. The different sex groups in general, which identify a person’s sexuality, are referred to as gender in grammar. So, it is a grammatical category that differentiates one noun from another concerning their sex.

In other words, gender is the simplest concept in English grammar that gives the system of noun classification. Like we have different sex groups or differences in sex, male and female. In grammar, those differences of nouns and pronouns fall into different groups of gender. In fact, not only nouns and pronouns but also verbs and adjectives can come under a gender category in grammar. However, that will mainly depend on their culminating words.

There are four main types of gender. While in nature, we think of three sex identities, male, female, and she-male, in grammar, there is no particular gender for unclear sex identities. We instead have four genders, namely masculine gender, feminine gender, Neuter gender, and common gender.

Let us have a look at each in detail;

Four types of gender

1. Masculine gender

Masculine gender is a gender type that includes the male subtype. That means, when a noun possesses the male sexual identity, it will come under the masculine gender.

For example; man, king, fox, cock, father, brother, actor, bachelor, horse, hero, tiger, etc. These are nouns that possess male characteristics, and hence, they are under the masculine gender.

• The man was waiting outside for his food.
• My father is driving right now.
• The fox attacked his own kids.
He is the hero of our family.

Now, it is to notice that along with the nouns showing male subtype, the pronouns are also reflecting the same. Masculine pronouns are he/him and they/them. And also, the possessive determiners like his will be affected in a similar way.

The masculine gender is also applied to objects that symbolize violence, strength, superiority, etc.

2. Feminine gender

The feminine gender type is the one where it includes the female subtype. That means when a noun possesses characteristics of a female or has a female sexual identity, it will belong to the feminine gender category.

For example; queen, girl, sister, mother, actress, lady, hen, women, cow, etc. All these nouns possess female properties.

  • The girl was waiting for her mother.
  • I saw the actress ruining her own dress.
  • The queen of England will be leaving her throne soon.
  • That lady was looking at me as if I was her daughter.

Even here, the nouns will directly affect the pronouns and the possessive determiners. Feminine pronouns are she/her and they/them. And possessive determiner is her.

The feminine gender is also applied for objects that show beauty, fertility, softness, gracefulness, etc.

3. Common gender

Now, common gender is different from the previous two. This category does not have a specific identity. This gender category includes those nouns that can be either a male or a female. That means common gender applies to those subjects whose sexual identity is not exclusively known. It can be both a male and a female.

For example; teacher, cousin, friends, staff, workers, neighbor, student, person, servant, etc. All these nouns are not specified, whether it is a male or a female. It can be either of them.

  • My cousin will visit me on Wednesday.
  • The worker was not feeling very great.
  • My friends are over here!
  • The student is not willing to give the exam.

As we can see, when we say friends or student, there is no specification of which sex one is referring to. It can be either male or female. Thus, they are said to be of common gender.

4. Neuter gender

Finally, we have the neuter gender. This gender category includes those nouns that are neither male nor female. That means we are basically referring to non-living or inanimate things or entities. These are the objects that cannot fall under feminine or masculine gender. Thus, they are said to be of the neuter gender.

For example; table, book, pen, bus, radio, song, school, rock, etc. These nouns don’t have any gender.

  • I want a new pen.
  • The car is not going to start.
  • My school is opening tomorrow.
  • Get on the bus already!

Here, the pronouns will be it for singular and they for plural. They are objects that have no life.

So, these are the four main types of gender in grammar. As we can notice, these are all just the sexual classification of nouns or differences of nouns in terms of sex. To have a quick recap, we have;

  • Masculine gender: indicates a male noun.
  • Feminine gender: indicates a female noun.
  • Common gender: indicates nouns that can be either a male or a female.
  • Neuter gender: indicates nouns that are neither male nor female. They are inanimate objects.

Further, it is important to remember that the gender of nouns will directly affect their pronouns and possessive determiners. If we do not change the pronouns accordingly, there will be chances of making errors and altering the meaning of a sentence. Thus, one has to be very thorough and careful.

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