Christina
What do you use for cats/dogs? It or He/She?
Jul 8, 2019 3:32 PM
Answers · 9
If we know the biological gender of the dog or cat, we call them 'he' or 'she' according to whether they're actually male or female. The owners of dogs and cats will get quite offended if you call their pet 'it' - the neuter pronoun sounds very impersonal and unfriendly. Bear in mind that we have no grammatical gender in English (only biological gender), so calling an animal 'it' makes it sound like an object, or a pest of some kind. Unlike some languages, we don't really even have words to distinguish between a male or female cat, dog, rabbit etc. ( and if we do, we don't use them in everyday conversation). While it's fine to call a spider or cockroach 'it', or even a mangy fox that the farmer wants to shoot, you should never call a family pet 'it'. So, what do you do if you don't know whether the pet is a 'she' or a 'he'? Well, let's say that you meet a neighbour walking his or her dog, and you want to make polite conversation referring to the dog. Basically, what you have to do is avoid using any pronoun at all until the person tells you whether the dog is male or female. So the conversation can go like this: You: [Indicating the dog and smiling] Ooh, who's this, then? Neighbour: This is Rosie. She's a great Dane/chihuahua cross. You: [Breathing a sigh of relief that you now know what sex the dog is] She's lovely .... etc. If you're less lucky, it might go like this: You: [Indicating dog and smiling] Ooh, who's this, then? Neighbour: This is Bailey. You: [Thinking: Hmm...dammit. Still don't know] Bailey? Neighbour: Yes, nice name, isn't it? You: [Addressing the dog in desperation] Hello, Bailey. You're nice, aren't you? How old are you then? Neighbour: He's six months old. You: [Greatly relieved] He's lovely, etc....
July 8, 2019
This will demonstrate a big difference in how different areas of the country Rural versus large city, approach this and bear in mind I was once a farmer for a while and lived work in an agricultural animal breeding environment. (that is a world apart from my native inner city neighbourhood) I have never had a problem both in a rural setting or in an inner city setting of point blankly not beating about the bush and simply saying. "Nice dog what's its name", or "what is it" "boy or girl" "dog or bitch" or discreetly having a look it is rare not to be able to tell. Boys have bits between their legs, and girls have many little teats dangling down from their bellies, visible in both sexes from an early age. That is my animal breeding rural environment experience at play. Occasionally problems have occurred with other people who both now in the rural areas and inner city areas have animals has "toys" or "replacement babies in nappies" do get upset when you say "it" but to me they will always be an it, until I learn their sex/gender and know their name. I have personally never had a problem with it but have witnessed other people having problems. people who own pets as "toys" or "replacement babies in nappies" or "trophies", "status symbols" "gangster and hoodlum threats etc' it is these Animal abusers who respond badly when you say it, "pet owners" will just simply tell you. Animal abusers will get annoyed. My experiences on this subject.
July 8, 2019
I love your dog (a pet). How old is he? She’s a puppy. Six months. For a stray, you could use “it”. Why are there so many stray cats in Europe? I don’t know. Did you see the one in the courtyard? I saw it. Su.Ki’s answer is understandable to me but to my American ear it sounds more like the basis of a Monty Python skit rather than an example of realistic dialogue.
July 8, 2019
Usually people use he/she if they're the owners, you can use it if you're not sure of the gender or if you aren't familiar with the cat/dog.
July 8, 2019
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