Used to refer to the female person or animal previously mentioned or implied. See Usage Notes at he1
2. Used to refer to a person whose gender is unspecified or unknown.
3. Used in place of it to refer to certain inanimate things, such as ships and nations, traditionally perceived as female: "Went out and hopped in my old Ford / Hit the engine but she ain't turnin'" (Bruce Springsteen).
A female animal or person. Sometimes used in combination: Is the cat a she? Is that a she-bear?
[Middle English, probably alteration of Old English sēo
, feminine demonstrative pron.
; see so-
in Indo-European roots
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. refers to a female person or animal: she is a doctor; she's a fine mare.
2. refers to things personified as feminine, such as cars, ships, and nations
3. Austral and NZ
an informal word for it13
: she's apples
; she'll be right
a. a female person or animal
b. (in combination): she-cat.
[Old English sīe, accusative of sēo, feminine demonstrative pronoun]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
pron., sing. nom. she, poss. her hers, obj. her; pron.
1. the female person or animal being discussed or last mentioned; that female.
2. the woman: She who listens learns.
3. anything considered, as by personification, to be feminine: spring, with all the memories she conjures up. n.
4. a female person or animal.
5. an object or device considered as female or feminine.
[1125–75; Middle English, alter. of Old English sēo, sīo, sīe,
feminine of se the1
; compare her
, me, they.
s/he (ˈʃi ərˈhi, ˈʃiˈhi)
she or he: used as an orthographic device to avoid he
when the sex of the antecedent is unknown or irrelevant. Compare she/he.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
he she they
He, him, his, and himself are sometimes used to refer back to an indefinite pronoun or to a word such as person, child, or student.
If anybody complained about this, he was told that things would soon get back to normal.
It won't hurt a child to have his meals at a different time.
Many people object to this use because it suggests that the person referred to is male.
2. 'he or she'
You can sometimes use he or she, him or her, his or her, or himself or herself.
A parent may feel that he or she has nothing to give a child.
Anyone can call himself or herself a psychologist, even if untrained and unqualified.
Many people avoid these expressions because they think they sound clumsy and unnatural, especially when more than one of them is used in the same sentence.
In writing, some people use s/he to mean he or she.
Most people use they, them, and their.
Everyone thinks they know what the problems of living with a teenager are.
Often when we touch someone we are demonstrating our love for them.
Don't hope to change anyone or their attitudes.
This use used to be considered incorrect, but it is now the most common form in both spoken and written English, and is used in formal and informal writing.
It is often possible to avoid all the above uses. You can sometimes do this by using plurals. For example, instead of saying 'Every student has his own room', you can say 'All the students have their own rooms'. Instead of saying 'Anyone who goes inside must take off his shoes', you can say 'People who go inside must take off their shoes'.
1. used as the subject of a verb
She can be the subject of a verb. You use she to refer to a woman, girl, or female animal that has already been mentioned, or whose identity is known.
'So long,' Mary said as she passed Miss Saunders.
The eggs of the female mosquito can only mature if she has a meal of human blood.
When the subject of a sentence is followed by a relative clause, you do not use she in front of the main verb. You do not say, for example, 'The woman who lives next door, she is a doctor'. You say 'The woman who lives next door is a doctor'.
The woman who owns this cabin will come back in the autumn.
2. used to refer to things
She is sometimes used instead of 'it' to refer to a country, ship, or car.
Now Britain needs new leadership if she is to play a significant role shaping Europe's future development.
When the repairs had been done she was a fine and beautiful ship.
Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012