Do we use the pronoun 'it' for a kid? Can we say:

When the child is young, it wouldn’t know that it hurts when you touch a hot thing as it doesn’t understand hot or cold.

"it" before 'wouldn't' and the one before 'doesn't' refer to "kid". Are these right?


For children and pets, it can be used if you don't know the gender and have no way to know.

Look at that puppy, it won't go near the bed.

When referring to children, if there is any way you could have known whether it's a boy or girl, using it will seem rude. For example, don't refer to a child as it if you are talking to it's mother and can see the baby - even if you can't tell whether it's a boy or girl.

  • Might be worth adding the potential term "they" for when you are wanting to avoid being rude, but don't know the gender (as an alternative to "it").
    – user68033
    Apr 30 '18 at 15:20

It's less about grammar and more about acceptance. Some people may consider it rude, some wouldn't.

You can avoid the whole problem by rewording the sentence:

The young child doesn't understand hot or cold and wouldn't know that it hurts when you touch a hot thing.

  • But I see no reason why you'd rephrase the given sentence. How can it even be perceived as rude in that sentence/context? I believe that's exactly the type of sentence this Wikipedia article talks about where it sounds okay. (–1)
    – user3395
    Apr 30 '18 at 17:16
  • 1
    Grammar and opinion of the listener are two different things. Just because you can, doesn't mean someone won't perceive you as being rude, even if that wasn't your intention. Apr 30 '18 at 17:28
  • It's incontrovertible that the sentence at issue is grammatical. I'm talking about how it may be considered rude. Despite the definite article before child, I don't think this sentence talks about any child in particular, which means it can therefore refer to it as it – like I just did.
    – user3395
    Apr 30 '18 at 17:43
  • 1
    @userr2684291 - It seems many people get offended by little things nowadays, whether that allegation of rudeness is justifiable or not. And if someone finds it awkward to refer to a child as "it", I see no harm in offering an alternative phrasing. Just because you wouldn't find it rude doesn't mean nobody else would. Sometimes it's less about grammar and more about emotion. (I don't find the original rude, either; I just don't see it as beyond the realm of possibility.) One could also use the plural: When children are young, they wouldn’t know that it hurts when you touch something hot.
    – J.R.
    Apr 30 '18 at 18:00
  • People take offense at the use of "it" because they see it as dehumanizing. So whether you're talking about a specific child or not isn't relevant since you're still talking about a human. Apr 30 '18 at 18:00

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