2

When I'm talking about my soul (in the "paranormal" way), the correct use of the pronoun is he she or it?

See the example:

My soul is lost. He/She/It is lost forever.

I'm asking it 'cause I always chosen the "he/she" for people and "it" for things, animals and objects. My soul is definitely not a person, but is not a thing or animal, right?

What should I use?

  • 1
    The priest and author Thomas A Kempis refers to the soul as her in his codex The Imitation of Christ. Book 4 chapter 3 – James Dowde Sep 10 '19 at 16:22
  • 1
    Does the English language not use "she" and "her" for ships and airplanes? Then all the more so for the soul, which is more "alive" than a vessel or an aircraft! Poetic licence! – Wilbert van der Beek Sep 3 at 6:58
7

To explain the comment which for some reason is not an answer, your soul is "it" because it is an attribute of yourself. If you mention any other attribute of yourself, whether physical (such as a body part) or abstract (such as an ability that you have), you always refer to it as "it." This also applies to your mind, heart (in the physical and non-physical sense), soul, etc., even if it could be said to have a personality or gender. It is not independent of you, therefore it is not a person (in and of itself), therefore it is considered an object for the purposes of grammar.

EDIT: see also this question. If the soul is considered an independent person, such as when describing the soul of someone in the afterlife, then it can receive a gender. In the linked question, the disembodied soul of a dead king is referred to as "he" (and the soul of a queen as "she").

Going by the above, assigning a gender implies personhood in this instance.

| improve this answer | |
3

I always chosen the "he/she" for people and "it" for things, animals and objects.

"Things" is a bit vague here, but I expect that you are getting confused because you can't touch your soul and take ahold of it, like you can a great number of other "things". Your soul is still however a "thing" and your pattern of using "it" for things works here too.


As a small aside, we sometimes use gender pronouns for animals too. It tends to be for pets and other animals that we feel close to.

What a lovely dog. What is his name?

I'd be unlikely to use gender pronouns for a worm for example.

That worm has moved from one side of the garden to the other already! It's a fast one!

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    There is a biological reason for using "it" for annelids. Annelids are hermaphroditic. In other words, a single earthworm can be both male and female. – Jasper Sep 10 '19 at 16:42
0

I think Thomas a Kempis is right about referring to the soul as 'she'. The soul is God's breath, and so it is not a thing, whatever the actual usage may be. I think Thomas, who was a great mystic, had a good reason for choosing 'she'.

In silence and quiet the devout soul goeth forward and
learneth the hidden things of the Scriptures. Therein
findeth she a fountain of tears, wherein to wash and
cleanse herself each night, that she may grow the more
dear to her Maker as she dwelleth the further from all
worldly distraction.

THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
by Thomas a Kempis (1427)

| improve this answer | |
  • Hi, Louis. We're mostly interested in answers that have some support indicating they represent actual, accepted usage, not opinions. Welcome; please take the tour and see if you can improve your answer. – Davo Sep 2 at 15:20
  • No, this question is about the proper use of pronouns. Please read the accepted answer. – Davo Sep 2 at 17:16
  • Thank you, Mari-Lou – Louis Sep 4 at 8:39

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.