Why isn't "it" the definite article feminine singular?

1 Answer
Jun 28, 2016

The pronoun "it" is gender-neutral.


In English pronouns can be masculine (he, his, him, himself), feminine (she, her, herself), or gender-neutral. Gender-neutral pronouns do not imply a specific gender, this means that we can use these pronouns with any gendered subject or with an object that is either gender-neutral/ ambiguous or doesn't have a gender. Let's consider this sentence as an example:

The dog fetches the ball.

We could substitute "The dog . . ." with "he" or "she", depending on the animal's gender, to get:

He fetches the ball

—If the dog is a male (masculine)


She fetches the ball.

—If the dog is female (feminine)

If we don't happen know the dog's gender or don't feel like attributing gender to the animal then we can substitute "The dog . . ." with "It" to get:

It fetches the ball.


"It" is a singular pronoun this means that if we have more than one subject or object in question we need to use "they" or "them" instead of "it". Let's see this in action with the example that we've been using:

The dog[s] fetch the balls.

We can replace "The dogs . . ." with "They . . ." if we do this we get:

They fetch the balls.

I hope this helps!