In the Russian language, everything has gender. A table is a «he» and a vase is a «she». Because of this, many Russian-speaking students make the mistake of using «he/she» to talk about inanimate objects in English. Here is what you need to remember:
Use «it» to talk about all inanimate objects (things that are not alive). Example:
I bought a new IKEA table and it is already falling apart. My car is cheap but it is pretty fast.
Even though animals are alive, they are not people, so use «it» to talk about animals. One exception is pets. We can use «it» or «he/she» to talk about our dogs, cats and other pets. Example:
The bear was hungry so it came to our camp to look for food.
My dog Jackie is very smart. She can close doors with her nose!
In Russian, when we don’t know the gender of a person, we automatically use «he». In English, when you don’t know the gender, is is common to use «he/she» or «they», even if you are talking about just one person. Example:
A good manager knows when he/she should push his/her employees to do more work.
Somebody called but they didn’t leave a message.
Note: You can also use «they» to avoid saying whether you are talking about a man or a woman. Example:
Somebody is coming to visit me this weekend, but they are only staying until Sunday.
In English, countries and forms of transport are sometimes referred to as «she». It’s not very common but don’t be surprised if you see it! Example:
England has influenced the cultures in all her colonies.
The ship Britannia has started her first voyage across the Atlantic voyage.
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