Pronouns

Pronouns come in many forms, and many may be new to you. Pronouns are words that refer to either the people talking (I or you) or someone or something that is being talked about (like she, he, it, them, and this). He, she, they, and ze are examples of pronouns that specifically refer to people who are being talked about. 

It is not necessary to learn every pronoun in advance of meeting a gender-diverse person. Instead, you should learn some best practices for what you can do when you meet a person who is gender-diverse. Below is some information to help you be a better ally. 

Here’s a guide on what pronouns are, why they matter, and how to use new ones and support your trans friends! This video was written, filmed, and edited by Minus18.

Using Pronouns in Everyday Conversation

I saw Alex today walking their dog down the street. They recently rescued the dog from a shelter and I cannot wait to talk to them about their new puppy.

Noel was in a meeting today and had a really good idea. Xe said that we could increase enrollment through better marketing and xyr idea could really help us out in the long run. We should talk to xem about it more at the next meeting.

Jordan was wearing a really nice blue shirt today. Ey said ey recently bought it at eir favorite  store.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are pronouns?

Pronouns are words that refer to either the people talking (I or you) or someone or something that is being talked about (like she, he, it, them, and this). He, she, they, and ze are examples of pronouns that specifically refer to people who are being talked about. 

What do pronouns have to do with LGBTQ+ people?

For the purpose of this discussion, we are talking about pronouns that do not directly correlate to the birth/assigned sex of a person. This could pertain to a gender-diverse person such as a transgender individual or a non-binary person. In this case, they may not always go by the pronouns that were assigned to them with their birth sex. This could mean that someone may ask you to use pronouns different than the ones you have used previously.  

Furthermore, you may meet someone who does not necessarily use what are typically considered masculine (he/his/him) or feminine (she/her/hers) pronouns. This means they may have pronouns such as xe/xem/xeir or ey/em/eir, which are gender-inclusive singular pronouns. There are many other gender-neutral pronouns. Many of them are listed on this website!

 

Why is it important to respect someone’s pronouns?

It is important to recognize that everyone uses pronouns when communicating, and using the correct pronouns can communicate respect. Using the wrong pronouns may be emotionally harmful, socially damaging, and oppressive to a person who identifies as trans or gender-diverse 

 

How do I ask someone’s pronouns?

This can seem tricky if you are unsure of their gender identity or language/pronoun use. The best way to find out someone’s pronouns is to provide your own pronouns first. As a general habit, when you introduce yourself to anyone, try incorporating this into the conversations regardless of their gender identity. Being a better ally means changing your habits to create a safer world for LGBTQ+ people. 

Example: “Hello, my name is Sam. My pronouns are she, her, and hers.”

 

What if I make a mistake?

While not always OK, it is understandable that you may occasionally make a mistake with someone’s pronouns. If this happens, try not to draw a great deal of unnecessary attention to the person whom you misgendered.

If you catch yourself using the wrong pronoun, simply stop what you were saying, correct yourself, apologize to the person, and continue on with the conversation. If the person is not present and you use the wrong pronoun, it is still important that you stop and correct yourself. Remember, practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to learning gender-neutral pronouns.

 

What if I hear someone else make a mistake?

If you hear someone else make a mistake, please correct them. Being an ally is an active role, and it is your responsibility to correct people when they make a mistake. Remember, we all make mistakes sometimes and no one is perfect, so try to correct the person in a respectful way while still making sure they understand the importance of using the right pronoun.  

Developing Your Pronoun Skills

Read each sentence in the madlib and match a pronoun from the corresponding column of the table to complete the sentence. Practice reading the sentence to familize yourself with pronouns that are new to you.   

 

1

2

3

4

5

He

Him

His

His

Himself

She

Her

Her

Hers

Herself

They

Them

Their

Theirs

Themself

Zie 

Zim 

Zir 

Zis 

Zieself 

Sie 

Sie 

Hir 

Hirs 

Hirself 

Ey 

Em 

Eir 

Eirs 

Eirself 

Ve 

Ver 

Vis 

Vers 

Verself 

Tey 

Ter 

Tem 

Ters 

Terself 

E

Em 

Eir 

Eirs 

Emself