"she" as an object

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Arnaud76

New Member
French
Hello everybody,

I sometimes hear "she" for a car, an airplane, bike stuff like that.

Is there any figurative rule so you can use "she" for an object ?

From the examples i took, i can say probably for mechanical or complex system (such as women :p), any other idea ?

thank you
Arnaud
 
  • Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Hello everybody,

    I sometimes hear "she" for a car, an airplane, bike stuff like that.

    Is there any figurative rule so you can use "she" for an object ?

    From the examples I took, I can say probably for mechanical or complex system (such as women :p), any other idea ?

    Thank you
    Arnaud
    Most mechanical systems are historically referred to as "she" but there is also a certain emotion involved between the user and the object. Many people prefer to allocate some sort of human quality to their car, bike, boat, etc., rather than just call the object "it" and since, historically, it used to be mainly men who owned and operated these items, they have habitually become "she".

    For something that doesn't hold any kind of emotional attachment (your household furnace, for example), it would be odd to hear it referred to as "she".

    There are no rules.
     

    FurryOne

    Senior Member
    United States, English
    Something similar happens with animals. The pronoun it can be used for an animal, but if one knows the individual animal well (for example a pet), or the type of animal (for At times, there is a general assumption that cats are female and dogs are male, if one doesn't know the actual gender.

    Examples:
    I saw the squirrel when it was stealing food from my birdfeeder.
    When my cat lies in my lap, he purrs.
    I saw a cow in my garden. It was eating my flowers. (I don't know much about cattle.)
    When a farmer has trouble with a cow, he might say, "She's in a bad mood."
     

    litiga8or

    Senior Member
    Rainy Oregon! USA
    Note that SHE has an object is not common. Men use the term occasionally. Women almost never do--we use IT instead. SHE for ships, cars, etc. is more apt to be found in informal writing than in speaking.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Once upon a time, men spent a great deal of their time coaxing and cajoling assorted bits of machinery. We never understood them, really, but we desperately needed their co-operation for our survival. We tended and cared for them, anticipating every whim and ensuring to the best of our ability that their appearance reflected that care and showed the pride we felt in them.
    We called them she.

    Now that our relationship with such stuff has become a great deal more distant (when did you last change the oil and plugs?), we call them it.
     
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