Male and female


Male and female
pronouns and determiners
The fact that you are referring to a male person or a female person makes a difference grammatically only when you are using personal pronouns, reflexive pronouns, possessive pronouns, or possessive determiners.

She sat twisting her hands together.

When he had finished he washed his hands and face.

She managed to free herself.

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See entries at ↑ Possessive determiners and ↑ Pronouns.
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If you are referring to more than one person, there is only one pronoun or determiner of each type to use. For example, the subject pronoun you use to refer to a group of men, a group of women, a group of men and women, or one man and one woman together is `they'.

Boys are taught that they mustn't show their feelings.

People were looking to me as though they thought I might know the secret.

They had been married for forty-seven years.

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'she' and 'her' for things
Although `it' and `its' are generally used when referring to a thing, `she' and `her' are sometimes used when referring to countries, ships, and cars.

Mr Gerasimov has a high regard for Britain and her role in Europe.

When the repairs had been done she was a fine and beautiful ship.

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If you need to indicate someone's sex when using a noun to refer to them, you can use `woman', `female', or `male' in front of the noun. You do not use `man' in front of a noun.

We went to the home of a woman factory worker named Liang.

A female employee was dismissed because her husband was working for a rival firm.

He asked some other male relatives for help.

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Note that `women', not `woman', is used in front of a plural noun.

I did a survey on women lawyers.

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nouns referring to males or females
English nouns are not generally masculine, feminine, or neuter. Some nouns, however, are used to refer only to males and others only to females.

He announced that he was a policeman.

The bride was very young.

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Words that refer only to women often end in `-ess', for example `actress', `waitress', and `hostess'. Another ending is `-woman', as in `policewoman'.

She told me she intended to be an actress.

...Margaret Downes, who is this year's chairwoman of the examination committee.

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Fewer words ending in `-ess' are used in modern English than were used in the past. For example, people nowadays refer to a woman who writes books as an `author', not an `authoress'.
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male relatives
The following words are used to refer to male relatives:
brother, brother-in-law, father, father-in-law, godfather, godson, grandfather, grandson, husband, nephew, son, son-in-law, stepbrother, stepfather, stepson, uncle
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female relatives
The following words are used to refer to female relatives:
aunt, daughter, daughter-in-law, goddaughter, godmother, grandmother, granddaughter, mother, mother-in-law, niece, sister, sister-in-law, stepdaughter, stepsister, stepmother, wife
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men with a particular job or rank
The following words are used to refer to men who have a particular occupation or rank:
barber, barman, baron, baronet, businessman, butler, churchman, clergyman, commissionaire, con-man, count, craftsman, duke, emperor, fisherman, footman, gunman, hangman, headmaster, host, king, knight, lord, mailman, marquis, master, monk, orderly, playboy, policeman, postman, postmaster, prince, salesman, schoolmaster, seaman, serviceman, sportsman, squire, steward, stunt man, valet, waiter, workman
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women with a particular job or rank
The following words are used to refer to women who have a particular occupation or rank:
actress, air hostess, ballerina, barmaid, baroness, chairwoman, chambermaid, comedienne, countess, duchess, empress, governess, headmistress, hostess, housewife, maid, manageress, matron, mistress, nun, policewoman, postmistress, priestess, princess, proprietress, queen, schoolmistress, spokeswoman, sportswoman, stewardess, stunt woman, usherette, waitress
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other male people
These words are also used to refer only to men or boys:
bachelor, boy, boyfriend, bridegroom, buddy, chap, fiancé, gentleman, guy, lad, man, schoolboy, suitor, widower
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Note that you do not usually refer to a man or boy as a `male'.
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other female people
These words are also used to refer only to women or girls:
blonde, bride, bridesmaid, brunette, countrywoman, fiancée, girl, girlfriend, goddess, heiress, lady, lass, mistress, schoolgirl, spinster, widow, woman
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Note that you should not refer to a woman as a `female', as some people find this offensive.
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'-man' and '-person'
Words ending in `-man' are used either to refer only to men or to refer to both men and women. For example, a `workman' is a man, but a `spokesman' can be a man or a woman. The words ending in `-man' in the lists of male words above are generally used to refer only to men.
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When women begin to do a job that used to be done only by men, the word ending in `-man' is sometimes still used. Sometimes a new word is invented to refer to women doing the job, for example `policewoman'. However, it is becoming more common to use terms which do not indicate the sex of the person who has a particular job. For example, `police officer' is used instead of `policeman' or `policewoman', and `head teacher' is used instead of `headmaster' or `headmistress'. Words ending in `-person' are also sometimes used. See entries at ↑ chairman and ↑ spokesman.
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A few nouns which refer to a person of a particular nationality are used only for a man or only for a woman, for example `Englishman' and `Englishwoman'. See entry at ↑ Nationality words.
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nouns referring to animals
Most names of animals are used to refer to both male and female animals, such as `cat', `elephant', and `sheep'.
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In some cases there are different words that refer specifically to male animals or female animals. For example, a `ram' is a male sheep and a `ewe' is a female sheep. However, most of these words are rarely used, or are used mainly by people who have a special interest in animals, such as farmers or vets. The ones most commonly used are `bull' (for a male cow) and `hen' (for a female chicken).
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Useful english dictionary. 2012.

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