Can a program name be possessive? (i.e. Notepad++’s plugin manager)

On Stack Overflow, I found a question with the following title: what is the notepad++ plugin manager server url While editing the question for readability, I changed the title to: What is the server URL for Notepad++’s Plugin Manager? According to Google Chrome’s spell checker, Notepad++’s is not a proper word. A similar question established … Read more

Why is it common in English to address animals as “it”?

Why is it common in English to address animals as “it”? It’s not an inanimate or abstract object, they have a gender and they’re alive. A chair, idea, tree, rock, etc are an “it”, but why does English speakers address a dog, cat, bird, fish, etc as “it”? Isn’t male the “default gender” in English? … Read more

What is the difference between “they” and “it” for people, especially for those people who identify as non-binary?

I’ve heard that they is used as a word to refer to people who are non-binary. Since English is not my first language, I’m not sure what the difference is between they and it in these usages. Of course, I know that it is mainly used for things rather than people. But I’ve simply thought … Read more

When referring to an inanimate object, is the use of “itself” proper?

I’m describing how to use M$ remote desktop in an email with the sentence below. “You can use any software or hardware attached to that computer as if you were sitting at the machine itself.” The use of “itself” seems incorrect. Granted, I could end the sentence at “machine”, but is there a more suitable … Read more

Question about “The portrait utilizes a palette of…”

Is this sentence correct? The portrait utilizes a palette of grays, blacks and blues. Doesn’t it sound like the portrait painted itself? Shouldn’t it be "The artist utilized a palette of grays, blacks and blues." Answer Your sentence is correct. It is a figure of speech called personification which is commonly used. Look at this … Read more

Pronoun question: referring to inanimate objects as ‘he’ or ‘she’

I read the following claim concerning pronouns referring to inanimate objects: Anything that is meant to contain you, protect you or provide you with something beneficial is [often referred to as] a she; anything that is a perceived threat is a he. That’s why cars, boats and some countries are she. Is this really the … Read more

Can I Switch from “it” to “he” or “she” when referring to an animal in a story?

This one is a question I can’t seem to find an answer for. I do have a friend, a professional editor, who told me she saw no problem with me switching from “it” to “he” or “she” when referring to an animal in the situation I’m about to lay out, but I’d like to know … Read more

Using ‘her’ vs. ‘its’ to refer to a country

I am currently reading Liddell Hart’s “History of the Second World War”, and I’m wondering why he sometimes uses her/she when talking about Japan. In my understanding of English, it should be its or their (if you want to refer to the Japanese people). For instance: From 1931 onward the Japanese were aggressively engaged in … Read more

Is it grammatical to say of some potential meaning that it is “able to be said” or “trying to be said”?

A recent commenter on a recent word-search question nominated a term as “an even better word for what is trying to be said.” This seems to me to attribute intention to something—a meaning—that is incapable of intention. I have also encountered this same fallacy, as it seems to me, with words such as able and … Read more

What word denotes a belief that apparently inanimate objects actually express a malicious, autonomous will?

I came across this word a few years ago, but can’t find it now. I do not mean deodand, animism, pathetic fallacy, scapegoating, anthropomorphism, or personification (Word for attaching blame to inanimate objects). If I recall correctly, this particular word sounded like a religion but looked like a phobia; it may well have been coined … Read more