America was inhabited by native American Indians thousands of years ago.

What is the appropriate form to use?

She has many different inhabitants today.

It has many different inhabitants today.


3 Answers 3


Either is correct. If you want to follow political correctness, which is trying to make everything gender-neutral, then it will do; if you want to follow tradition, then she.

Yahoo! Answers had an interesting discussion on this very topic back in 2010.

  • Not true if you want to follow established rules. Check any style guide -- AP, Chicago, MLA, etc. "it" is the correct pronoun for non-person entities. We're not talking song lyrics or poetry or personal essays. An English Language learner should not be misled about correct, general purpose writing rules. The reasons that "it" is correct can be debated, but it's a fact.
    – user8356
    Oct 16, 2019 at 13:27

I don't think this is a matter of being "politically correct". It's more that referring to countries with gender-specific pronouns is becoming increasingly less common, particularly since WW2...

enter image description here

That chart clearly shows the general trend (also reflected with Britain and her/its allies). But in the specific case of America, things are further complicated by the fact that in socio-political contexts the "nation-state" is probably more often called [The] US. These Google Books figures are interesting...

America used its... 1770 hits
America used her... 326 hits
The US used its... 5420 hits
The US used her... 33 hits

In short, although there's no specific grammatical reason to avoid she in OP's sentence, it certainly strikes me as a somewhat "dated/poetic" usage. I think it's best avoided unless you genuinely intend to "personify" the nation (which doesn't really seem appropriate in OP's case).


The answer depends completely on the context. In general non-fiction, technical, academic, and business writing, using the pronoun "she" with a country is not appropriate. Use only "it" as a pronoun for things.

In creative writing, including fiction, literary criticism, poetry, and essays (political opinion), the use of a feminine pronoun for certain things, such as ships and countries, can be an effective personalization technique, and is consistent with historical use in English.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .