A pronoun must be in the same gender as the noun for which it stands or to which it refers.
Each of the following pronouns is limited to a single gender:
Masculine : he, his, him
Feminine : she, her, hers
Neuter : it, its
All other pronouns vary in gender.
Robert greeted his employer. [Masculine]
A mother passed with her child. [Feminine]
This tree has lost its foliage. [Neuter]
Who laughed? [Masculine or feminine.]
How do you do? [Masculine or feminine.]
They have disappeared. [Masculine, feminine, or neuter]
I do not care for either. [Masculine, feminine, or neuter]
A neuter noun may become masculine or feminine by personification.
Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
The blue Mediterranean.—Shelley.
Stern daughter of the Voice of God!
Nature from her seat
Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe.—Milton.
In speaking of certain objects, such as a ship and the moon, it is customary to use SHE and HER. In like manner, HE is used in speaking of the sun and of most animals, without reference to sex, although it often designates an insect or other small creature, and even a very young child.
WHO and WHICH are both used in referring to the lower animals. WHICH is the commoner, but WHO is not infrequent, especially if the animal is thought of as an intelligent being.
Thus one would say, “The dog which is for sale is in that kennel," even if one added, “He is a collie." But which would never be used in such a sentence as, “I have a dog who loves children."
The gender of masculine and of feminine nouns may be shown in various ways.
The male and the female of many kinds or classes of living beings are denoted by different words.
Some masculine nouns become feminine by the addition of an ending.
Note : The feminine gender is often indicated by the ending ESS. Frequently the corresponding masculine form ends in OR or ER….such as
The ending ESS is not so common as formerly. Usage favors proprietor, author, editor, etc., even for the feminine (rather than the harsher forms proprietress, authoress, editress), whenever there is no special reason for emphasizing the difference of sex.
A few feminine words become masculine by the addition of an ending. Thus….widow, widower & bride, bridegroom.
4. Gender is sometimes indicated by the ending man, woman, maid, boy or girl.
cash boy, cash girl
A noun or a pronoun is sometimes prefixed to a noun to indicate gender.
mother bird, father bird
cock sparrow, hen sparrow
boy friend, girl friend
6. The gender of a noun may be indicated by some accompanying part of speech, usually by a pronoun.
My cat is always washing his face.
The intruder shook her head.
I was confronted by a pitiful creature, haggard and unshaven.
Note : The variations in form studied above are often regarded as inflections. In reality, however, the masculine and the feminine are different words. Thus, baroness is not an inflectional form of baron, but a distinct noun, made from baron by adding the ending ess, precisely as barony and baronage are made from baron by adding the endings y and age. The process is rather that of derivation or noun-formation than that of inflection.