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Pronouns: Why They Are Important

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The Importance of Pronouns

Image Credit: adapted from the National Institutes of Health (2020) What Are Gender Pronouns? Why Do They Matter?

Pronouns are the words we use to refer to a person when we do not use their name. The pronouns that a person uses does not automatically indicate anything about gender or sexual identity. Many people choose to use pronouns without a gender association or use gendered pronouns differing from their biological sex. In 2021, 46% of adults under the age of 30 knew someone using gender-neutral pronouns. Using a person's correct pronouns shows them respect, allyship and promotes an inclusive environment.

Sharing pronouns allows people to self-identify rather than risk false assumptions by others. Developing the important habit of sharing your own pronouns encourages others to do the same and normalizes the process.

Avoid using the phrase "preferred pronouns" as it implies that the pronouns are optional or flexible. The term "pronouns," without any qualifiers, works for everyone!

Remember that some people choose to use different pronouns in different environments. For example, perhaps one of your friends uses their "real pronouns" with you but has not yet made that transition with their work colleagues or family. It is up to each individual to decide when and where they want to share their identities. If you are in doubt, just ask them!

Examples of Pronouns

There are an ever-increasing number of pronouns being used today.  Some of the more commonly used ones are:

  • He/Him
  • She/Her
  • It/It
  • They/Them
  • Ne/Nem
  • Ve/Ver
  • Ey/Em
  • Ze/Zir
  • Xe/Xem
  • Ey/Em

For examples of grammatical use of these (and many other) pronouns, refer to the table of standard and non-standard third-person singular pronouns.