The Earth, 'she' or 'it'?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by astrowords, Jan 4, 2012.

  1. astrowords New Member

    Cat
    Catalan
    Hi,

    The Earth is a planet, m. But I have this sentence:

    The Earth exerts a strong gravitational attraction because she is gifted of a great mass. She attracts the apple falling of the tree. But, the apple also attracts the Earth toward her...

    Is this sentence better than the first?
    The Earth exerts a strong gravitational attraction because it is gifted of a great mass. It attracts the apple falling of the tree. But, the apple also attracts the Earth toward its...

    Thank you!
     
  2. Sprachliebhaber Senior Member

    USA English
    We usually refer to the Earth as "it". Note that the last "it" refers to the apple, not the Earth. ("Gifted of great mass" is not colloquial. We would probably say something like "the Earth exerts a strong gravitational attraction because of its great mass/because it has great mass".)
     
  3. Elwintee Senior Member

    London England
    England English
    As well as the other comments, I expect you would like to know that an apple falls off a tree, not of a tree.
     
  4. the Duke of Königsblau New Member

    Sonnenstadt, Villa Nueva, Guatemala
    Guatemala - English & Spanish
    When you refer to the Earth as a person, i.e., lyrically or in poetry (as in poems, hymns, lieds) you use "she". Au contraire, in normal speech, and mostly in technical discourses, Earth is referred to as "it"
     
  5. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    I sortof imagine that the first sentence comes from "Basic Science for Children in Hippie Communes." ("Mother Gaia is blessed with great mass. She pulls the apple to her loving arms, even as the apple herself seeks to embrace Mother Gaia with her own, smaller mass. Heavy, right?")

    Which is to say... sometimes the Earth will be personified as a "she." But in science, the intentional fallacy ought to be avoided, so all things should be named "it."
     
  6. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    As an added note to lucas_sp's post, there's an American environmental publication called Mother Earth News thus pursuing the personification among the faithful.

    I suggest you be safe and stick with the universal neutral gender.
     
  7. astrowords New Member

    Cat
    Catalan
    Thank you for your answers. I'm learning English so I still have some doubts.
     
  8. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    This question cries out for context - where did that text come from? It is wholly abnormal English unless the author is deliberately trying to personify the Earth. Seeing it, I immediately assumed that it is a poor translation from another language. That perception is reinforced by the phrase "gifted of a great mass" which is a flowery way of saying "because it has great mass", by the error in "falling of the tree", and by the personified apple.
     
  9. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    Well, "gifted of a great mass" is clearly a calque from another language, probably a Romance language in which "gifted" would not be a personification - it ought to be translated as "endowed (with great mass)." I suspect it's just a sentence the original poster was writing.

    The most important thing to learn here is that nouns in English do not have grammatical gender. Things are "it"s, not "he"s or "she"s, except in the limit case of personification.
     

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