female / feminine / woman

Woman is a noun (used with a/an/the) and female is an adjective (which describes a noun). So we say:

  • She is the country’s first female president. woman president
  • The president of the country is a woman. a female

    There is a similar rule with male (adjective) and man (noun):

  • Male life expectancy is often lower than female life expectancy.

    (male/female are adjectives describing the noun “life expectancy”)

  • Women live longer than men.

    It is possible to use “female” and “male” as nouns, but this is usually only done when talking about animals – or when writing scientific papers where humans are part of the experiment:

  • The treatment was given to three males and three females between ages 40 and 45.
  • There are nine puppies available for adoption – seven males and two females.

    Masculine and feminine are also adjectives which describe things that are like what people perceive to be typical of a man / typical of a woman.

  • Pink is considered a feminine color.

    (women typically enjoy/wear pink; men typically do not)

  • American football is considered a masculine sport.

    (men typically play/enjoy American football; women typically do not)