What are pronouns, how can we ask about them, and why do they matter?

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What’s a gender pronoun?

It’s the pronoun someone uses for themself. In English, pronouns are often used to communicate gender.

For example, if Debbie’s pronouns are she/her, you would say “Debbie went to her favorite restaurant. She ordered peri-peri.”

In this example, Debbie’s pronouns are “she/her.”

What are some commonly used pronouns?

Some of the most common pronouns are “she/her/hers” and “he/him/his.”

These are sometimes called feminine and masculine pronouns, but you don’t have to be feminine or masculine to use them.

There are lots of other pronouns people use, for a variety of reasons.

What are some other pronouns people use?


For example, “Ren is all out of their favorite bubblegum. They are going to buy more.”

They is a common pronoun to use when you don’t know someone’s gender. In English, it can be used as a plural (group) or singular (personal) pronoun.


For example, “Tim is going to hir grandma’s house. Ze loves spending time there.”

Ze/hir is a neopronoun (new pronoun) in English. Ze is pronounced like “zee”, and hir is pronounced like “here.”

Their name!

Some people prefer not to use third-person pronouns, and prefer you just use their name instead.

Why should I respect people’s pronouns?

You can’t know someone’s pronouns just by looking at them. Asking for pronouns and using them correctly is the easiest way to respect someone’s gender identity.

When you use the wrong pronoun for someone, it makes them feel disrespected, invalidated, alienated, or even dysphoric.

It’s a privilege to not have to worry about if someone will use your correct pronouns.

How do I ask for pronouns?

“What pronouns do you use?” or “Can you remind me what your pronouns are?” are great options!

What if I mess up?

It’s okay, everyone makes mistakes. If you use the wrong pronoun for someone, apologize and correct yourself, for example, “Sorry, I meant she.” Don’t over apologize or call too much attention to it.

Remember, personal pronouns aren’t “preferred pronouns.” They’re important and mandatory. Using someone’s correct pronouns is not optional.

It can be hard to remember to use the correct pronouns for someone at first, but it’s important to use your privilege to help make things safer and more inclusive for others.