She, He, They, Xe: Learn All Pronouns for Genders

by | Sep 10, 2021 | GrammarSpot, Writing Tips | 0 comments

When you learned about pronouns in grammar school, you probably didn’t think they’d play a role in everyday life. However, as times and society’s understanding of gender has changed, pronouns have taken center stage, especially in writing. As a genderfluid writer, I have a special interest in learning and using all pronouns for genders. Just as I hope people use the correct pronouns when they write about me, I want to use the correct pronouns for them. Doing so is a sign of respect, something we can all get behind.

But what if you’ve only ever used masculine and feminine pronouns? Don’t fret — this is the perfect opportunity to expand your literary horizons. Let’s go over pronouns old and new so you can write inclusive pieces like a pro.

all pronouns for genders

 

What Are All Pronouns for Genders?

Before we can get into pronouns, we need to talk about gender. Gender is everywhere — it influences what kind of toys we buy, what colors we choose and even our writing, be it fiction or non-fiction. For a long time, using all pronouns for genders wasn’t the norm. Instead, everyone was expected to fit into two boxes: men and women. Today, people from across and outside the gender spectrum live openly, using pronouns that make them feel comfortable.

 

Men

Men come in all shapes and sizes, orientations and presentations. Some men are cisgender, meaning they identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, and some are transgender, which means they identify as men but were assigned a different gender at birth. When the subject you are writing about is a man, you should use “he/him/his.”

  • He rented a car while on vacation.
  • I wanted to talk to him, but he left the party early.
  • His hair looks incredible today.

 

Women

Women are just as diverse as men and can be cisgender or transgender. To use proper pronouns for genders, use “she/her/her” when you write about women.

  • She went to the baseball game.
  • The principal called her to the office.
  • Her essay got an A.

 

Non-Binary People

Non-binary people don’t identify solely as men or women. They may identify as both, in between or neither. Some people who fall into this category don’t feel a connection to gender at all.

Non-binary genders tend to get the most confusion when it comes to pronouns. It’s understandable, as not every non-binary person uses the same pronoun. Asking for someone’s pronouns can be uncomfortable, as there are social implications. So, how can you ensure you’re using the proper pronouns for genders when you write?

If you’re writing about a well-known individual, you may be able to find their pronouns on their social media accounts or elsewhere online. If neither of these is an option, it’s acceptable to use the gender-neutral “they/them/their” in your written piece.

  • They went to New York.
  • I sat next to them at the movie.
  • Their artwork is gorgeous.

Some non-binary people use other gender-neutral pronouns, the most common being “ze/zir/zir,” “sie/hir/hir” and “xe/xem/xir.” Grammatically, they’re used like “they/them/their.”

  • Ze ordered a soda.
  • I talked to zir on Monday.
  • I love zir new kitten.
  • Sie wanted purple, but yellow was the only color left.
  • The teacher called on hir.
  • Hir bag was left on the floor.
  • Xe went to the zoo last Saturday.
  • Miley gave xem her old headphones.
  • Xir shoes are rainbow-colored.

 

Why Is It Important To Use the Proper Pronouns for Genders?

Using the proper pronouns for genders in your writing is a basic courtesy. Gender is a key part of many people’s identifies, and being misgendered is a painful experience. People who fall outside gender norms are often erased, stereotyped or even vilified for being different.

Using inclusive language in your writing ensures that everyone is given the respect they deserve as human beings. While researching the right pronoun can take time, it’s well worth the effort.

 

What Is Gender Bias and How Can You Avoid It in Your Writing?

Using the proper pronouns for genders is just one part of avoiding gender bias. What is gender bias? It’s when writing only refers to certain genders. For example, using the masculine pronoun “he” for all parties was quite common 100 years ago, but today we understand that this type of writing is biased and harmful to those excluded.

Today, we try to avoid gendered language whenever possible. Sometimes this means choosing a different word or rewriting the sentence entirely. Here are a few examples of gender bias and how you can fix them:

  • Instead of “mothers and fathers,” use “parents.”
  • Instead of “husbands and wives,” use “spouses.”
  • Instead of “sons and daughters,” use “children.”

What if you’re writing instructions or posing a hypothetical? Instead of using all pronouns for genders and cluttering up your sentences, you can revise your work to avoid using pronouns, switch to the second-person point-of-view or make the subject plural. Here’s an example sentence with gender bias and potential gender-neutral revisions:

  • If a student finishes the test early, he should sit quietly and wait for others to finish. (Incorrect)
  • A student who finishes the test early should sit quietly and wait for others to finish.
  • If you finish the test early, you should sit quietly and wait for others to finish.
  • If the students finish the test early, they should sit quietly and wait for others to finish.

proper pronouns for genders

 

When Should You Use All Pronouns for Genders?

You should always use the proper pronoun for someone, whether you’re writing a social media post, short story or news article. Will you sometimes make mistakes? Of course. Everyone does. When that happens, you apologize and do better next time. For many people, using all pronouns for genders is a new experience and takes practice. By making an effort, you can write more inclusively, connect with your audience and let readers know that you are a safe place where they can be their true selves.

Is using all pronouns for genders new to you, or have you incorporated them into your past writing? Let us know in the comments below.

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