EN: it / he / she - for pets (cats, dogs, etc.)

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by isausa81, Jan 2, 2006.

  1. isausa81 Senior Member

    Nantes, FRANCE
    FRANCE - French
    When we talk about animals, do we say "He/She" or It (because it's not a human-being) ?

    Thanks !

    Moderator note: Multiple threads have been merged to create this one.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2010
  2. romenk Senior Member

    Normally it. If you are particularly attached to your cat and think of it as a quasi family member, and it's a male cat, you can call it he.
  3. Hi Isausa.

    In the UK we are very pedantic about giving our pets the correct gender when speaking of, or writing about, them.

    If I meet a person walking a dog and stop to say 'Hello', it is a must to ask the owner whether the dog is male or female. Then you can say, "Isn't he/she beautiful!" and proceed to pet the dog and say, "What a beautiful girl you are," or "Aren't you a handsome boy?"

    If someone sees a dog and mistakenly says, "Isn't he handsome?", the owner will quickly tell you, "She's a girl!"

    We're funny that way.................
  4. isausa81 Senior Member

    Nantes, FRANCE
    FRANCE - French
    Hi LaReineVictoria !

    Lol for your example !! It made me laugh ... Thanks a lot for the explanation ! I now understand better the "nuance".

    But I have a last question: So, in which case do you use the pronoun "It" to refer to an animal ?

    Thks !
  5. hald Senior Member

    Quand ce n'est pas le tien :D

    Si j'ai bien tout suivi, on devrait normalement utiliser le neutre pour parler d'un animal, mais on a tendance à utiliser he/she comme marque d'affection : après tout, tu ne considères pas ton chien ou ton chat comme un objet.
  6. Hi Isausa,

    We would use 'it' to refer to an animal on two occasions I can think of.

    1. (At the zoo, for example): "Look at that crocodile, isn't it enormous!"

    2. If we are frightened: "I hate your pet rat! Take it away!"

    But generally speaking, if we know the animal's gender we say 'he' or 'she'. Some over-enthusiastic animal watchers will take a look at the rear end if the difference isn't immediately apparent.

    They are even funnier that way.............. (*I*)
  7. Auryn

    Auryn Senior Member

    France, French
    What I find rather confusing is that a cat is often called 'she' in the UK, regardless of its actual gender. How many times have I had this problem at the vet's!

    Person in vet's waiting room: What a cute cat! What's her name?
    Me: His name is Withnail.
    Person: She's lovely!


    Not to mention the "Good Girl" range of cat products. How humiliating for male cats!
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 10, 2013
  8. I agree Auryn. I think this has arisen from the comparison of women to cats. Shan't go too deeply into that, just think of 'Pussy'.

    I once had a boyfriend, very masculine, but I called him 'Pussy'.

    I'm funny that way...........

    Re 'Good Girl' range, we have 'Good Boy' choc drops for dogs. Very sexist, n'est-ce pas?

  9. mcfadden_ronan

    mcfadden_ronan Member

    Ireland, English
    It's a little silly, but I think people automatically think of a cat as a "she" and a dog as a "he", at least I do :eek:.

    It would be considered insensitive to refer to a cat or a dog as "it", in my humble (albeit animal-loving) opinion :D
  10. Marcewa Senior Member

    France / French

    Could you tell me what noun must be used for a female dog: it or she?

    First I thought ''he'' or ''she'' must be only used for people but now I have a doubt. What must be used for dogs or animals?

  11. trastu Senior Member

    Nr. Parthenay France
    British English
    Either would be OK.

    I think perhaps you would be more like to use 'she' if the dog belonged to you but if you were speaking about any female dog in general you would probably use 'it'.
  12. catlover92 New Member

    For those of you who don't speak french:

    When it's not yours, If I followed everything, we should normally use the neutral to talk about an animal, but we tend to use he / she as a sign of affection: after all, you do not consider your dog or your cat as a object.

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