I heard in the media:

Russia was behind the Syrian regime since day one: arming him,...

I am confused if I should refer to regime as it or him or her.

What about other words like machine, country, nation.. when can we use he or she for referring to them?

  • 3
    We use it for almost all nouns which do not have 'natural' gender. Sep 22, 2015 at 22:07

2 Answers 2


When in doubt, if it's not a gendered, living thing, refer to it as "it".

For your specific example:

Russia was behind the Syrian regime since day one: arming it,...

That being said, if it said

Putin was behind Assad's Syrian regime since day one, sending "him"...

In this case, with the addition of Assad, it's ok to use "him".

We do use gendered pronouns with some things occasionally but it's not required.

For example, some refer to ships and cars as "she"... but you won't hurt any feelings by calling a ship or car an "it".

  • 2
    In the example given, the word Syria is offered, but the "him"contextually refers to Assad. The way of writing it implies that the regime and the leader are interchangeable, that's a deliberate way of framing a political ideology. (doesn't matter whether Assad and "the regime" actually are interchangeable...the language is suggesting it.)
    – dwoz
    Sep 22, 2015 at 23:21
  • @dwoz if that's the case, there's some context missing from the question. As it stands, "him" is not really appropriate in my mind.
    – Catija
    Sep 23, 2015 at 4:52
  • To add to the list of occasionally gendered things, countries are often referred to as female. There are a few exceptions to this (and curiously they are usually the countries cast as villains in Western cinema).
    – Easy Tiger
    May 3, 2016 at 13:18

As far as I know, in general all the things that are not humans they get "it" (including pets).

  • A human female would not be called "it"...
    – Catija
    Sep 23, 2015 at 4:18
  • I wrote "are not", look at this again please. Sep 23, 2015 at 12:31
  • Your original said "are not pets". It has been edited since I commented.
    – Catija
    Sep 23, 2015 at 13:34
  • Definitely not. You can see the history of the edition, if there is. You just suspect me for nothing. I'm sorry. Sep 23, 2015 at 15:01
  • 1
    (cc @Catija) Assiduous, your original was quite wrong, although it seemed clear what you'd meant to say, which is what I fixed it to. (The revision history is not ambiguous on when and why the change happened.) Sep 23, 2015 at 18:18

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