Elle = it/she?
Not sure which category this fits in as I got this question in the Color section, but this question has nothing to do with colors.
The french sentence I received was
Ta chemise est sale : elle est grise.
Having had the word "elle" drilled in me as "she", I answered
Your shirt is dirty: SHE is grey.
Which is wrong, and I agree with duolingo, the translation is
Your shirt is dirty: IT is grey.
My question is, the reason we use elle is because "chemise" is a feminine word hence "elle" is employed. Does french have the word "it" and if they do why is the word "it" not employed? Do french refer to every inanimate objects/animals based on their word gender as oppose to english?
All words in french have gender and there is no 'it'. You just have to decide if 'elle/il' is 'it' or 'she/he' based on the context. That said a lot of languages have gender for words.
ce, ça, il and elle can all translate to it in the right context (And ce can mean he or she). I found these 2 videos relating to your example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ezt0DPrKHkY. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJO0xPoVdeg.
EDIT: ça isn't really relevant to this since it's used with verbs besides e^tre (like aller) and is limited to this, that or it.
The French have no exact equivalent to "it"; instead, people use "il" or "elle" depending on the subject's gender.
"Tu aimes ma jupe? Elle est nouvelle."