I was reading a short story that contain these sentences:

The moon said she was stronger.

The sun did not agree with her.

Do we always use "she" and "her" for moon? what is the general rule about using pronoun for something like animals, sun, moon,...?

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    Related: Using “she” pronoun to refer to a ship
    – ColleenV
    Jan 29, 2021 at 12:16
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    Anglophones don't generally assign gender to inanimate objects. But in any case, English is primarily the mongrel child of Latin/Romance languages (for whom the sun is conventionally male and the moon female) AND Teutonic/Germanic languages (which feature the opposite gender assignments), so even our poets are often inconsistent in this particular area. Jan 29, 2021 at 12:29
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    For animals, see ell.stackexchange.com/questions/151111/it-or-he-she-for-animals and others. Jan 29, 2021 at 13:29
  • @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica Interesting. In arabic, the moon is masculine and the sun is feminine.
    – JavaLatte
    Jan 29, 2021 at 13:36
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    @JavaLatte: Well, the English language hasn't taken much from arabic (come to that, I'd say Anglophone culture hasn't taken much from arab culture, presumably for the same reasons). I haven't specifically checked, but I don't think the ancient Romans or ancient Greeks had a male god associated with the moon - but our language certainly owes something to Old Norse, with Mani being the male god of the moon (giving us Monday). And Mani's sister was Sol (the sun, but apparently that's not the origin of words like solar). Jan 29, 2021 at 13:55

2 Answers 2


Animals have genders, so there is no comparison between them and inanimate objects such as the luminaries, really. You would call a male dog 'he', a female rabbit 'she' etc. Some animals even have names for their male/female counterparts (for example, cows/bulls) so the gender is clear before you even use a pronoun. However, it is probably even more common for a native English speaker to refer to an animal as "it" unless they knew its gender. "It" may even be the default for animals for many people unless the animal is being anthropomorphised, or if the animal is well-known to the speaker such as a pet.

What gender to use for the sun and moon is not really answered authoritatively by English linguistics. In English, we don't automatically assign genders to inanimate objects as in some other languages, but in French and other Latin languages the sun (sol) is masculine and the moon (luna) is feminine.

Mythologies offer a different perspective. Norse, Egyptian, Hindu, and Sumerian mythologies contain moon-gods that are masculine, while in ancient Roman, Greek, Chinese, and Inca mythologies there are feminine moon-goddesses. There are also various European folk tales about a 'man in the moon'.

So, there is no definite choice. If you are trying to be poetical, and wish to imitate classical Latin sentiments then perhaps go with a masculine sun and a feminine moon. However, it also popular these days to subvert expectations with regard to gender, and if you were to assert that something is feminine when most would consider it to be masculine that can be an interesting literary twist.

  • In the short story I was reading it contained word "bat". and it doesn't talked a lot about it and used the word "he" to refer that. so in general is it more common to use he/him for animals than she/her?
    – Etemon
    Jan 29, 2021 at 14:31
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    @Soheil It is difficult to gender many animals from sight alone. I think it would be more common for a native English speaker to refer to an animal as "it" unless they knew its gender. "It" may even be the default for animals for many people unless they are anthropomorphised, for example pets. I thought your question was mainly about the moon and sun, and animals were just an aside.
    – Astralbee
    Jan 29, 2021 at 14:38
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    +1 for pointing out that it's popular these days to subvert expectations with regard to gender. 2-3 decades ago, if someone referred to their (monotheistic) god as She, that would probably imply a fairly strong commitment to the idea of the Supreme Being actually being "female". But today I'm sure that many people do it for no more compelling reason than that they don't want to endorse the historical "male-centric" perspective (they might not even think God has a "gender", but She seems infinitely better than It! :) Jan 29, 2021 at 15:22

It's quite common to refer to inanimate objects as he or she. While with animals and some words the choice is obvious, like: a deer (she), an elk (he), a lion (he), or for instance a ship, a car, a spacecraft, a boat, mostly anything that is much of value to a man (personal thought) is almost certainly always a she.

The thing is that mostly men operate machinery and mostly men refer to them as she because they love them, a normal thing for a man since a man should love a woman. They say, "Hold on baby, come on my love, or she's my beauty".

The idea behind calling the moon a she, and the sun a he lies not only within the realm of "sol" and "luna" but, in my opinion, also because of the nature of such objects. Think for yourself, would you call an ocean a he, or a lamp post a she? Many words somehow tend to possess a certain element of sexuality, which defines them correspondingly. But this is just my theory.

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