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I wrote the sentence below and was told it was incorrect because the word 'personne' is feminine and thus the personal pronouns afterwards should not be masculin even though I was talking about a man.

I wrote this:

Parce qu'il y a une personne qui est végétarienne et il est très drôle...mais il est Américain

She said because we don't know it's a man it should be like this:

Parce qu'il y a une personne qui est végétarienne et elle est très drôle... mais elle est Américaine

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    You can say "mais c'est un américain" Jan 13, 2018 at 11:27

1 Answer 1

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Yes, pronouns referring to a substantive must agree with it. However, you can switch genders if the pronouns no more directly refer to the substantive but to something/someone of a different gender.

So the adjectives must agree with the substantive personne but the remaining clauses aren't required to agree if you know it's a man, they only need to agree with the pronoun used.

Unknown (or undisclosed) gender:

Il y a une personne qui est végétarienne et elle est très drôle... mais elle est américaine.

Known gender:

Donald Trump est une personne très intelligente et il est très drôle... mais il est américain.

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  • 'It's not.." is not very clear. Can you make your answer a bit more clear? I still don't know which sentence is correct.
    – Hasen
    Jan 12, 2018 at 15:32
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    You are right, my answer was unclear. It is actually when we don't know the gender that the whole sentence need to stay feminine.
    – jlliagre
    Jan 12, 2018 at 15:46
  • Yes it is very clear now. Thanks.
    – Hasen
    Jan 12, 2018 at 15:46
  • Yes, it must agree with the noun. DT n'est pas du tout une personne intélligente, par contre. C'est un vraie dèrriere de cheval (blague traduits litéralement).
    – Lambie
    Jan 12, 2018 at 15:53
  • @jlliagre So to be clear, even if the person speaking knows the person is a man, if it's not clear in the sentence it counts as unknown gender?
    – Hasen
    Jan 12, 2018 at 16:04

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