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Hi everybody,

I'd like to know what's the reason for using the feminine pronoun for cats, instead of the neuter. I understand that this is so when you are talking of cats in general or of female cats, but not when you're talking of male cats. Are there many words for which this occurs? And words for which "he" is used instead of "it"? If I remember well, a ship was also "she", wasn't it? (or, rather, wasn't she?)

Thanks!
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Hi Colombo

Usually people use "he" or "she" when referring to their pets because they know which gender their animal is. There is no "rule" that says a cat of unknown gender should be thought of as feminine. But there are many people who tendto see cats as having feminine qualities and dogs as having masculine qualities. On the other hand, my sister refers to both of her cats as "he" although both cats are female! Emotion: surprise I have no idea why she does this. I guess she simply thinks that her two cats exhibit qualities that seem more masculine than feminine.

If you don't know an animal's gender, you should use "it".
Hello, Colombo,

"It" is used for all animals when a speaker either doesn't know their gender or is indifferent to it. "He" and "she" are used when a speaker wants to indicate the gender of an animal.

According to grammar rules, "she" is used for ships and for countries. But maybe in modern English it's already out of date, I don't know...

I have never heard of inanimate nouns for which "he" is used instead of "it". Emotion: smile
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In the case of a baby, the pronoun 'it' can be used when we are not sure whether the baby is male or female.
But not in front of the parents unless you want to offend them. Emotion: smile
Nona The BritBut not in front of the parents unless you want to offend them. Emotion: smile
Thanks for reminding me about this or else I might offend a relative or friend of mine without being aware of it.Emotion: big smile
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Nona The BritBut not in front of the parents unless you want to offend them. Emotion: smile
My sentiments exactly, Nona.Emotion: smile
Thanks everybody! So "she" isn't used for cats, as a general rule!? I remember being told that more or less at my third English lesson, when we were taught the pronouns (we were told that all animals and inanimate things were "it" except for a few, like cats and ships, that were "she").

I have a tendency to call babies "it", even when it's easy to avoid using a pronoun or a possessive. I suppose it's the Herod in me.
I have never heard of inanimate nouns for which "he" is used instead of "it".

A friend of mine uses "he" for computers, to explain how they work in executing programs.

First he creates space for the variables, then he loads ..., then he ..., then he prints the report.

But this is completely idiosyncratic, as far as I know. Emotion: smile

CJ
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