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As a Chinese student myself, I find it's a common problem among a lot of my fellow students even some of my teachers, (and me of course) to make such mistakes, like saying "he" while actually refering to "she" and vice versa, in most cases, unconsciously. Yes, we don't even know about it when we are speaking. But as listeners, we can easily tell that someone has made the obvious mistake. Have you experienced such a situation？ and how would you feel？
No.....I never make such mistakes..but my classmates do, sometimes.
I think it's natural that some of us don't know how to figure out the differences since the pronunciation of 3rd person subject pronouns of mandarin[if your mother tongue is mandarin] are the same> 她 他 它
It's actually a pretty funny mistake to make sometimes. Especially if you're talking about both a guy and a girl and you mix them up. I have a buddy from Mexico who used to always mix them up and as a result there were a few times that he said some pretty amusing things.
Haha, I thought only Chinese students would make that kind of mistakes～
BTW, do you have any good advice about how to prevent this "mixing up"？ Why does a native English speaker seem to never have to worry about this though he or she might speak very quickly？.....
Of course I have heard this mistake, as it is quite common.
I am mindful to offer an explanation when the person is finished speaking.
However, I will not bother with pointing out the mistake, if I understand generally,
what the person is trying to say. If, for example, we are discussing something very important, I would never both offering a correction because when something very important is being discussed, there just is no need or time for trying to correct petty mistakes in grammar.
There is a time and place for correcting petty mistakes in grammar.
Usually, I will just make a mental note and at some future time I will explain the gender distinction.
I think for me this is not an issue. Being Spanish my native language, we also have this grammar rule. And it even goes beyond... we need to remember the gender of every noun! haha. For example chair is female, car is male... English native speakers have a hard time learning all this.
I would say it's something you just need to remember, like I must remember the tones in Mandarin, even though I don't have to in any other language.
I think when you learn a new language you need to not only add vocabulary into your brain, but also change the way it works, otherwise people might understand you, but it won't be natural.
For this particular grammar point, maybe a trick could be... imagine he is a short for the male/boy, and she is an abbreviation of the female/girl.
Thanks for your tip. Some of my friends who are learning Spanish or Italy or even Japanese, always say that everything seems to be like a human with differences in gender....just as you said, that even a chair is female. That's quite confusing to them as they have to tell whether what they're going to say is female or male, haha.
Another question I have is, since it's really hard to learn Spanish well, do you have a hard time learning it yourselves, as native speakers? I remember when I started learning Chinese, the characters, poems, and "pinyin", etc, were also a torture for me though I found I could understand and speak daily Chinese without even learning it at a very young age....
I have the same problem when speaking English.
But I never make mistakes when speaking Japanese. ( In Japanese, he and she are different words)
Hehehe. Actually, as a native speaker of American English, it is a little funny to hear someone say "she" when they are actually talking about a guy. It is like you are saying he is like a woman. Not that there is anything wrong with being a woman, but some guys might get offended and have their pride hurt. Hehehehe.
Sometimes I correct someone when I hear it but sometimes I don't. It depends. I feel like I am being rude if I correct someone sometimes. It is even worse though if someone says "it" instead of "he" or "she", because then it is like you are saying they aren't even human. A lot of people would be sooooo mad if they overheard you refer to them as "it" when speaking about them to someone else. Hehehehe
Thankfully, English doesn't have grammatical gender like Kovichenko mentioned about Spanish, but English still does have gender specific nouns like "waiter" versus "waitress". It would be really funny to hear someone call a guy a "waitress" actually. Hehehehe
I think the mistake that English learners make the most though is when to use "the" or "a / an" and when not to use either of them at all. I don't know of any technique you could use to prevent yourself from making these mistakes though. Sorry. :/
Oh, and yes... hearing "he" instead of "she" is funny sounding too. :)
Haha, I seldom heard others made this kind of mistakes, referring to someone as "it"...But it's very common that my fellow students always neglect the use of "the"、 "a" and "an" while speaking English. i heard that made native speakers very uncomfortable, haha.