Home > Grammar > Nouns > Gendered Nouns

Gendered Nouns

Non-human and non-animal nouns in English are not assigned genders. We’ll cover the distinction between non-gendered and gendered nouns in the English language. 

Why doesn’t the English language have grammatical gender? 

It’s natural to wonder why English doesn’t have grammatical gender when there have been so many influences in the formation of the language. For example, German and French both have a strong sense of gender in their grammar. Grammatical gender originally existed in Old English, but fell out of use over time. Now, aside from some retention of natural gender, Modern English largely does not have grammatical gender. 

Furthermore, in recent years, the English language has become more gender neutral to change with the times, which we’ll explore later.

English as a natural gender language

English is a natural gender language. This means that in the English language, non-human and non-animal nouns are not categorised into a female or male gender. Therefore, articles – a, an and the – stay the same.

When referring to people or animals, however, sometimes gender distinctions are used.


Masculine Feminine Neutral
Man Woman Person
Husband Wife Spouse
Boy Girl Child
Buck Doe Deer
Actor Actress Actor
Father Mother Parent
*Him *Her *Them

*The last examples, ‘him’, ‘her’ and ‘them’ are pronouns rather than  nouns, but they are important features of English when using inclusive language. 

This leads us to discuss inclusivity. As we mentioned above, the use of ‘they’ in English is utilised when not being gender-specific to avoid being sexist, or to respect non-binary identities. You may also have noticed the distinctions ‘actor’, ‘actress’, ‘actor’. This is because the term ‘actor’ has become gender-neutral over time. Similarly, ‘authoress’ is an archaic term and the word ‘author’ is preferred, regardless of the writer’s gender. This has happened largely across the board, with the term ‘poetess’ similarly being a term you’ll rarely hear in English anymore. 


7 Days Free Readability Scoring

Try Readable for 7 days entirely free, or cancel any time if you don't love it.