Can anybody help me with the pronoun?

Hello everyone!

I recently started to read "le petit prince" the original french version.

I have noticed one thing that when the author refers "la grande personne", the pronoun is alway "elle". This makes sense since "personne" is a feminine word.

But I start to wonder, in french, which pronoun to use when the physiological gender is clear but is opposite to the gender of the noun.

For example, "That person (male) is handsome". Do we say "Cette personne, il est beau" or "Cette personne, elle est belle"?

The first one seems grammatically wrong, but the second one seems I am talking about a female.

March 7, 2018


Pretty sure you would say "personne" regardless of gender, and then specify with "il" and "elle" and the like.

Personally though, if I was talking about someone who's male, I would use the masculine nouns "homme" or "garcon", (depending on said male's age), rather than "personne". It would just be easier that way, to be honest. (That said, I could be wrong, but I'm fairly certain.)
I.E. "Cet homme est beau" or "Ce garcon est beau"

Also Le petit Prince is an amazing book. One of my childhood favorites.

March 7, 2018

You are confusing yourself by using the grammar of the narrative of Le petit prince. The narrator refers to les grandes personnes meaning "the grown-ups".

J’ai alors dessiné l’intérieur du serpent boa, afin que les grandes personnes puissent comprendre. Elles ont toujours besoin d’explications.

"I then drew the inside of the boa constrictor, so that grown-ups may be able to understand. They always need explanations."

In the story, les grandes personnes are only identified as such so he uses, the pronoun that agrees.

He even uses it in the dedication:

"Toutes les grandes personnes ont d'abord été des enfants. (Mais peu d'entre elles s'en souviennent.) Je corrige donc ma dédicace."

"All grown-ups were once children--although few of them remember it. And so I correct my dedication."
(Translation by Katherine Woods)

I would, as -Andrew- suggested, simply use an identifying noun such as homme, femme etc.

March 8, 2018

Not positive, but I'm 90% sure that it's the first one (il est bel/il est beau). You conjugate the adjective based on what you're talking about in that instance. But I believe you still probably say cette personne.

March 7, 2018

I am a french speaker and I don’t know the official rule but I can say that in your example you have to say: « Cette personne est belle » And it can be either male or female. You have to keep the gender of the noun, it is more important than the natural gender. « une grande personne » is an adult (male or female). Another example, some profession like professor or doctor can be in masculine even for females. « cette femme est un excellent professeur/docteur. » even though with feminist you can probably say it in feminine now. « le rat est gris et la souris est grise » the rat is grey and the mouse is grey. It doesn’t mean that the rat is a male and mouse is a female, it is just the noun gender. You don’t have to check the gender of the animal before speaking ;)

March 8, 2018
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