Third-person pronoun

A third-person pronoun is a pronoun that refers to an entity other than the speaker or listener. The English pronouns he and she are third-person personal pronouns specific to the gender of the person (not to be confused with grammatical gender). The English pronoun they is an epicene (gender-neutral) third-person pronoun that can refer to plural antecedents of any gender and, informally, to a singular antecedent that refers to a person, the "singular they".[1]

Many of the world's languages do not have gender-specific pronouns. Some languages that do have gender-specific pronouns have them as part of a traditional grammatical gender system, where all or the vast majority of nouns are assigned to gender classes and adjectives and other modifiers must agree with them in that; but a few languages with gender-specific pronouns, such as English, Afrikaans, Defaka, Khmu, Malayalam, Tamil, and Yazgulyam, lack traditional grammatical gender and in such languages gender usually adheres to "natural gender".[2]

Problems of usage may arise in languages like English which have pronominal gender systems, in contexts where a person of unspecified or unknown gender is being referred to but commonly available pronouns (he or she) are gender-specific. In such cases a gender-specific, usually masculine, pronoun is sometimes used with a purported gender-neutral meaning;[3] such use of he was common in formal English between the 1700s and the latter half of the 20th century (though some regard it as outmoded[4] or sexist[5]). Use of singular they is another common alternative dating from the 1300s, but proscribed by some.[6]

Pronouns such as who and which are not discussed here, though similar but different consideration may apply to them.

Grammar patterns

Some languages of the world (including Austronesian languages, many East Asian languages, the Quechuan languages, and the Uralic languages[7]) do not have gender distinctions in personal pronouns, just as most of them lack any system of grammatical gender. In others, such as many of the Niger–Congo languages, there is a system of grammatical gender (or noun classes), but the divisions are not based on sex.[8] Pronouns in these languages tend to be naturally gender-neutral.

In other languages – including most Indo-European and Afro-Asiatic languages – third-person personal pronouns (at least those used to refer to people) intrinsically distinguish male from female. This feature commonly co-exists with a full system of grammatical gender, where all nouns are assigned to classes such as masculine, feminine and neuter. However, in some languages, such as English, this general system of noun gender has been lost, but gender distinctions are preserved in the third-person pronouns (the singular pronouns only, in the case of English).

In languages with grammatical gender, even pronouns which are semantically gender-neutral may be required to take a gender for such purposes as grammatical agreement. Thus in French, for example, the first- and second-person personal pronouns may behave as either masculine or feminine depending on the sex of the referent; and indefinite pronouns such as quelqu'un ("someone") and personne ("no one") are treated conventionally as masculine. (See Grammatical gender § Gender of pronouns.)

Issues concerning gender and pronoun usage commonly arise in situations where it is necessary to choose between gender-specific pronouns, even though the sex of the person or persons being referred to is not known, not specified, or (for plurals) mixed. In English and many other languages, the masculine form has sometimes served as the default or unmarked form; that is, masculine pronouns have been used in cases where the referent or referents are not known to be (all) female.[9] This collective masculine is also the case in ancient languages, like Classical Greek and Biblical Hebrew and have influenced the modern forms. This leads to sentences such as:

  • In English: If anybody comes, tell him. Here the masculine pronoun him refers to a person of unknown sex.
  • In French: Vos amis sont arrivés — ils étaient en avance ("Your friends have arrived – they were early"). Here the masculine plural pronoun ils is used rather than the feminine elles, unless it is known that all the friends in question are female (in which case the noun would also change to amies and the past participle would change to arrivées).

As early as 1795, dissatisfaction with this convention led to calls for gender-neutral pronouns, and attempts to invent pronouns for this purpose date back to at least 1850, although the use of singular they as a natural gender-neutral pronoun in English has persisted since the 14th century.[10]


Standard usage

The English language has gender-specific personal pronouns in the third-person singular. The masculine pronoun is he (with derived forms him, his and himself); the feminine is she (with derived forms her, hers and herself); the neuter is it (with derived forms its and itself). The third-person plural they and its inflected and derived forms (them, their, themselves, etc.) are gender-neutral and also used to refer singular, personal antecedents (e.g. "Where a recipient of an allowance under section 4 absents themself from Canada, payment of the allowance shall ..."[11])

Generally speaking, he refers to males, and she refers to females. When a person has adopted a persona of a different gender (such as when acting or performing in drag), pronouns with the gender of the persona are used when referring to that apart from the usual identity of the person. Pronouns are sometimes reversed (gender transposition) in gay slang. He and she are normally used for humans; use of it can be dehumanizing, and thus inappropriate, but it is sometimes used for a baby when there is no antecedent such as son or daughter and its sex is irrelevant or distracting. It is normally used for animals, but he or she can be used for an animal when the speaker wants to indicate the animal's sex or there is a higher degree of empathy with the animal, as is more likely with pets, domesticated animals, and other "higher" animals, such as elephants. He or she are used for an animal that is referred to by a proper name (e.g. "Fido adores his blanket".).[12]

The other English pronouns (the first- and second-person personal pronouns I, we, you, etc.; the third-person plural personal pronoun they; the indefinite pronouns one, someone, anyone, etc.; and others) do not make male–female gender distinctions, that is, they are gender-neutral. The only distinction made is between personal and non-personal reference (someone vs. something, who vs. what, etc.).

She is sometimes used for named ships and countries, but this may be considered old-fashioned and is in decline. In some local dialects and casual speech he and she are used for various objects and named vehicles (like a personal car). Animate objects like robots and voice assistants are often assumed to have a gender and sometimes have a name with a matching gender. (See Gender in English § Metaphorical gender.)

For people who are transgender, style guides and associations of journalists and health professionals advise use of the pronoun preferred or considered appropriate by the person in question.[13][14][15] When dealing with clients or patients, health practitioners are advised to take note of the pronouns used by the individuals themselves,[16] which may involve using different pronouns at different times.[17][18] This is also extended to the name preferred by the person concerned.[19][20] LGBTQ advocacy groups also advise using the pronouns and names preferred or considered appropriate by the person concerned.[21] They further recommend avoiding gender confusion when referring to the background of transgender people, such as using a title or rank to avoid a gendered pronoun or name.[22]

There is no universal agreement on a gender-neutral third-person pronoun which could be used for a person whose gender is unknown or who has a non-binary gender identity; various alternatives are described in the following sections.

It and one as gender-neutral pronouns

Whereas "he" and "she" are used for entities treated as people (including supernatural beings and, sometimes, sympathetic animals, especially pets), the pronoun "it" is normally used for entities not regarded as persons, though the use of "he" or "she" is optional for animals of known sex[23] (and obligatory for animals referred to by a proper name[12]). Quirk et al. give the following example, illustrating use of both "it" and "her" to refer to a bird:

  • The robin builds its nest in a well-chosen position ... and, after the eggs have hatched, the mother bird feeds her young there for several weeks.[23]

The pronoun "it" can also be used of children in some circumstances, for instance when the sex is indefinite or when the writer has no emotional connection to the child, as in a scientific context.[23] Quirk et al. give the following example:

  • A child learns to speak the language of its environment.[23]

According to The Handbook of Non-Sexist Writing, it is sometimes the "obvious" choice for children.[24] Examples given include:

  • To society, a baby's sex is second in importance to its health.

but also the more colloquial

  • When the new baby comes, it's going to sleep in Lil's room.

"It" may even be used when the child's sex is known. In the following story, the characters refer to the boy-child at the center of the narrative as a "he", but then the narrator refers to it as an "it":

  • "He looks like nobody but himself," said Mrs. Owens, firmly. ... It was then that ... the child opened its eyes wide in wakefulness. It stared around it ...[25]

In this case, the child has yet to be developed into a character that can communicate with the reader.

However, when not referring specifically to children, "it" is not generally applied to people, even in cases where their gender is unknown.

Another gender-neutral pronoun that can be used to refer to people is the impersonal pronoun "one". This can sometimes be used to avoid gender-specification issues; however, it cannot normally substitute for a personal pronoun directly, and a sentence containing "he" or "she" would need to be rephrased, probably with a change of meaning, to enable "one" to be used instead. Compare:

  • Each student should save his questions until the end.
  • One should save one's questions until the end.

In everyday language, generic you is often used instead of one:

  • You should save your questions until the end.

Generic he

It may be that forms of the pronoun he had been used for both sexes during the Middle English and Modern English periods. "There was rather an extended period of time in the history of the English language when the choice of a supposedly masculine personal pronoun (him) said nothing about the gender or sex of the referent."[26] An early example of prescribing the use of he to refer to a person of unknown gender is Anne Fisher's 1745 grammar book A New Grammar.[27] Older editions of Fowler also took this view.[28]

  • The customer brought his purchases to the cashier for checkout.
  • In a supermarket, a customer can buy anything he needs.
  • When a customer argues, always agree with him.

This may be compared to usage of the word man for humans in general (although that was the original sense of the word "man" in the Germanic languages, much as the Latin word for "human in general", homo, came to mean "male human"—which was vir, in Latin—in most of the Romance languages).

  • "All men are created equal."
  • "Man cannot live by bread alone."

While the use, in formal English, of he, him or his as a gender-neutral pronoun has traditionally been considered grammatically correct,[29] such use may also be considered to be a violation of gender agreement.[30]:48

The generic he has increasingly been a source of controversy, as it appears to reflect a bias towards men and a male-centric society, and against women.[31] The 19th and 20th centuries saw an upsurge in consciousness and advocacy of gender equality, and this has led in particular to preferences for gender-neutral language. The usage of generic he has declined in favor of other alternatives.

It has also been seen as prejudicial by some,[30] as in the following cases:

  • The Massachusetts Medical Society effectively blocked membership of female physicians on the grounds that the society's by-laws used the pronoun he when referring to members.[30]:46
  • The Persons Case, the legal battle over whether Canadian women counted as legal persons eligible to sit in the Senate, partially turned on use of "he" to refer to a (generic) person qualified to be a senator.[32]

Its use in some contexts may give a jarring or ridiculous impression:

... everyone will be able to decide for himself whether or not to have an abortion.

Albert Bleumenthal, N.Y. State Assembly (cited in Longman 1984), as quoted in Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage[33]

... the ideal that every boy and girl should be so equipped that he shall not be handicapped in his struggle for social progress …

C. C. Fries, American English Grammar (1940) quoted in Readers Digest 1983; as cited in Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage[33]

... She and Louis had a game—who could find the ugliest photograph of himself

Joseph P. Lash, Eleanor and Franklin (1971) (quoted in Readers Digest 1983; as cited in Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage)[33]
  • William Safire in his On Language column in The New York Times approved of the use of generic he, mentioning the mnemonic phrase "the male embraces the female".[34] A reader replied with an example of use of the purportedly gender-neutral he:

    The average American needs the small routines of getting ready for work. As he shaves or blow-dries his hair or pulls on his panty-hose, he is easing himself by small stages into the demands of the day.

    C. Badendyck [sic], The New York Times (1985);[35] as quoted by Miller and Swift.[30]:46

Generic she

She has traditionally been used as a generic pronoun when making generalizations about people belonging to a group when most members of that group are assumed to be female:[30]

  • A secretary should keep her temper in check.
  • A nurse must always be kind to her patients.

This avoidance of the "generic" he is seen by proponents of non-sexist writing as indicating that the purportedly gender-neutral he is in fact not gender-neutral since it "brings a male image to mind".[30] Since she brings a female image to mind, it isn't either.

Singular they

Since at least the 14th century, they (including derivatives and inflected forms, such as them, their, theirs, themselves, and themself) has been used, with varying degrees of general acceptance, to refer to a singular antecedent.[36] This usage is often called the singular they. Today, it is unexceptional and often not regarded as incorrect, especially in informal language.[36][37]

  • I say to each person in this room: may they enjoy themselves tonight!
  • Anyone who arrives at the door can let themself in using this key.
  • "If a person is born of a ... gloomy temper ... they cannot help it."— Chesterfield, Letter to his son (1759)[38]

Though the "singular they" has a singular antecedent, it is used with a plural verb form.[39]

They may be used even when the gender of the subject is obvious; they implies a generic (or representative of type class) rather than individuated interpretation:[40]

  • 'Tis meet that some more audience than a mother, since nature makes them partial, should o'erhear the speech — Shakespeare, Hamlet
  • There's not a man I meet but doth salute me / As if I were their well-acquainted friend — Shakespeare, Comedy of Errors
  • If some guy beat me up, then I'd leave them.
  • Every bride hopes that their wedding day will go as planned.

He or she, (s)he, etc.

The periphrastics "he or she", "him or her", "his or hers", "himself or herself" are seen by some as resolving the problem, though they are cumbersome. These periphrases can be abbreviated in writing as "he/she", "(s)he", "s/he", "hse",[41] "him/her", "his/her", "himself/herself", but are not easily abbreviated in verbal communication. With the exception of "(s)he" and "s/he", a writer still has the choice of which pronoun to place first.

Alternation of she and he

Authors sometimes employ rubrics for selecting she or he such as:

  • Use the gender of the primary author.
  • Alternate between "she" and "he".
  • Alternate by paragraph or chapter.
  • Use he and she to make distinctions between two groups of people.

Historical, regional, and proposed gender-neutral singular pronouns

Historically, there were two gender-neutral pronouns native to English dialects, ou and (h)a.[42] According to Dennis Baron's Grammar and Gender:[43]

In 1789, William H. Marshall records the existence of a dialectal English epicene pronoun, singular "ou": "'Ou will' expresses either he will, she will, or it will." Marshall traces "ou" to Middle English epicene "a", used by the 14th century English writer John of Trevisa, and both the OED and Wright's English Dialect Dictionary confirm the use of "a" for he, she, it, they, and even I. This "a" is a reduced form of the Anglo-Saxon he = "he" and heo = "she".

Baron goes on to describe how relics of these gender-neutral terms survive in some British dialects of Modern English (for example hoo for "she", in Yorkshire), and sometimes a pronoun of one gender might be applied to a person or animal of the opposite gender.

In some West Country dialects, the pronoun er can be used in place of either he or she, although only in weak (unstressed) positions such as in tag questions.[44]

More recently, in the city of Baltimore, and possibly other cities in the United States, yo has come to be used as a gender-neutral pronoun.[45][46]

Various proposals for the use of other non-standard pronouns have been introduced since at least the 19th century.

According to Dennis Baron, the neologism that received the greatest partial mainstream acceptance was Charles Crozat Converse's 1884 proposal of thon, a contraction of "that one" (other sources date its coinage to 1858[47]):

Thon was picked up by Funk and Wagnall's Standard Dictionary in 1898, and was listed there as recently as 1964. It was also included in Webster's Second New International Dictionary, though it is absent from the first and third, and it still has its supporters today.[48]

"Co" was coined by feminist writer Mary Orovan in 1970.[49] "Co" is in common usage in intentional communities of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities,[50] and "co" appears in the bylaws of several of these communities.[51][52][53][54] In addition to use when the gender of the antecedent is unknown or indeterminate, some use it as gender-blind language and always replace gender-specific pronouns.[55]

Several variants of ze have been proposed, with different object forms, to meet the need of unspecified gender situations and transgender persons.[56] Kate Bornstein, an American transgender author, used the pronoun forms ze and hir in the book "Nearly Roadkill: an Infobahn erotic adventure" in 1996.[57] Jeffrey A. Carver, an American science fiction writer, used the pronoun hir in the novel "From a Changeling Star" for a different-gendered nonhuman, in 1989.

List of standard and non-standard third-person singular pronouns

 Nominative (subject)Oblique (object)Possessive determinerPossessive pronounReflexive
Traditional pronouns
he he is laughingI called himhis eyes gleamthat is hishe likes himself
she she is laughingI called herher eyes gleamthat is hersshe likes herself
it it is laughingI called itits eyes gleamthat is itsit likes itself
one one is laughingI called oneone's eyes gleamthat is one'sone likes oneself
they they are laughingI called themtheir eyes gleamthat is theirsthey like themselves

they like themself

Conventions based on traditional pronouns
she/he she/he is laughingI called him/herhis/her eyes gleamthat is his/hersshe/he likes him/herself
s/he (compact) s/he is laughingI called him/rhis/r eyes gleamthat is his/rss/he likes him/herself
apostrophe 'e is laughingI called h''s eyes gleamthat is 'rs'e likes h'/h'self
Gender-neutral singular pronouns
e (Rogers, 1890)[58] e is laughingI called emes eyes gleamthat is ese likes emself
E (Spivak, 1983)[59][60] E is laughingI called EmEir eyes gleamthat is EirsE likes Emself
ey (Elverson, 1975)[61] ey is laughingI called emeir eyes gleamthat is eirsey likes eirself
hu (Humanist, 1982)[62] hu is laughingI called humhus eyes gleamthat is hushu likes humself
peh (Dicebox, 2012?)[63][64] peh is laughingI called pehmpeh's eyes gleamthat is peh'speh likes pehself
per (Piercy, 1979)[65] per is laughingI called perper eyes gleamthat is persper likes perself
thon (Converse, 1884)[66] thon is laughingI called thonthons eyes gleamthat is thonsthon likes thonself
ve (Hulme, c. 1980)[67] ve is laughingI called vervis eyes gleamthat is visve likes verself
xe (Rickter, c. 1973)[68] xe is laughingI called xemxyr eyes gleamthat is xyrsxe likes xemself
yo (regional, c. 2004)[69][70] Yo is laughingI called yo
ze, hir (Bornstein, 1998)[71] ze (zie, sie) is laughingI called hirhir eyes gleamthat is hirsze (zie, sie) likes hirself
ze, mer (Creel, 1997)[72] ze is laughingI called merzer eyes gleamthat is zersze likes zemself
ze, zir (unknown, c. 2013)[73] ze (zie, sie) is laughingI called zir/zemzir/zes eyes gleamthat is zirs/zesze (zie, sie) likes zirself/zemself
zhe (Foldvary, 2000)[74] zhe is laughingI called zhimzher eyes gleamthat is zherszhe likes zhimself

Indo-European languages

In most Indo-European languages (though not in Armenian and the modern Indo-Iranian languages) third-person personal pronouns are gender-specific, while first- and second-person pronouns are not. The distinction is found even in languages which do not retain a masculine–feminine grammatical gender system for nouns generally, such as English and Danish. Sometimes the distinction is neutralized in the plural, as in most modern Germanic languages (gender-neutral third-person plural pronouns include English they and German sie), and also in modern Russian (where the equivalent pronoun is они oni). However some languages make the distinction in the plural as well, as with French ils and elles; Czech oni and ony; or Greek αυτοί and αυτές, for respectively masculine and feminine equivalents of "they". It is traditional in most of these languages, in cases of mixed or indeterminate gender, to use the masculine as a default.

Romance languages

For example, in French,

  • First person singular je ('I'), me, moi ('me')
  • Second person singular (familiar) tu, te, toi ('you')
  • Third person indefinite on ('one', 'you')
  • First person plural nous ('we', 'us')
  • Second person plural vous ('you')
  • Third person possessives leur ('their') and son/sa/ses (depending on the gender and number of the item possessed), 'his', 'her' 'its', 'their' (masculine-gender object)/ 'his', 'her' 'its', 'their' (feminine-gender object) / 'his', 'her' 'its', 'their' (objects)

are all gender-inclusive; but

  • Third person pronouns il ('he'), le ('the' masculine-gender), ils ('they', referring to an all-male or mixed-gender group) are all masculine.
  • Third person pronouns elle ('she'), la ('the' feminine-gender) and elles ('they', referring to an all-female group) are all feminine.

The choice of possessive pronoun in many Romance languages is determined by the grammatical gender of the possessed object; the gender of the possessor is not explicit. For instance, in French the possessive pronouns are usually sa for a feminine object, and son for a masculine object: son livre can mean either "his book" or "her book"; the masculine son is used because livre is masculine. Similarly, sa maison means either "his house" or "her house" because "maison" is feminine. Non-possessive pronouns, on the other hand, are usually gender-specific.


As in French, Catalan also determines the gender of object but not of the possessor, by possessive pronouns – seu stands for a masculine object (el seu llibre), while seva, seua or sa stands for a feminine object (la seva mansió).


Portuguese works with two sets of pronouns. One of them (seu/teu for masculine and sua/tua for feminine) follows the same rules as French and Catalan, with the gender determined by the object (o seu livro and a sua casa); in the other set (dele for masculine and dela for feminine), the gender is determined by the possessor as in English, so o livro dele is possessed by a masculine being and o livro dela is possessed by a feminine being. Portuguese can use se and 3rd person plural without subject as in Spanish, to express indefinite/impersonal sense.


Italian is similar to French, with phrases such as il mio/tuo/suo libro not implying anything about the owner's gender or the owner's name's grammatical gender. In the third person, if the "owner's" sex or category (person vs thing) is an issue, it is solved by expressing di lui, di lei for persons or superior animals or di esso for things or inferior animals. Lui portò su le valigie di lei (He brought her luggage upstairs). This rarely happens, though, because it is considered inelegant and the owner's gender can often be inferred from the context, which is anyhow much more important in an Italian environment than in an English-speaking one.


In contrast, Spanish possessive pronouns agree with neither the gender of the possessor nor that of the possession (but they do agree with number of the possession), except in the construct with de: de él, de ella ("of his, of hers"). In the third person, the possessive pronoun su(s) is used. Example: Su libro could mean either "his book" or "her book", or even "your book" when speaking politely using the "usted" form of "you", while the informal form of "you" ("tú/vos") would be "tu libro", with the gender of the possessor being made clear from the context of the statement. Pronouns referring to people (or any noun) in Spanish have gender – él for "him" and ella for "her". Only when referring to an indefinite antecedent is the neuter ello used, and since Spanish is a pronoun dropping language, it usually only appears in prepositional phrases, like para ello, "for it". Grammatical person is inflected in verbs, so subject pronouns are generally used when necessary to make a distinction or add emphasis. For example, the verb vivir ("to live") may be conjugated in the third person as vive ("he/she/it lives") and be a complete sentence on its own. To make a distinction, one might say "Ella vive en Madrid pero él vive en Barcelona" – "She lives in Madrid but he lives in Barcelona". If it is absolutely necessary to provide a subject when referring to an unnamed object, a demonstrative can be used instead of a pronoun: ¿Qué es eso? ("What is that?"). An acceptable answer would be Eso es un libro or Eso es una revista ("That's a book", "That's a magazine"), with the genderless eso as subject in both cases.

However, when the pronoun is used as a direct object, gender-specific forms reappear in Spanish. The sentence "I can't find it", when referring to the masculine noun libro (book) would be "No lo encuentro", whereas if the thing being looked for were a magazine (revista in Spanish, which is feminine) then the sentence would be "No la encuentro".

When expressing indefinite/impersonal sense, hence no known gender, there are several ways in Spanish: 3rd person singular se and sometimes uno can express "one"/"you" in the general sense, "No se sabe" ("It's unknown"). Another way is by omitting the pronoun in 3rd person plural to say "they", in the sense of "you" but exclusive "En Francia hablan francés" ("In France they speak French"), and 2nd person singular, ("you") as in "debes creer en ti mismo" ("one shall believe in oneself"). In instructions, like cooking recipes, one can see 3rd person plural with se, or 1st person plural.

The Spanish language presents difficulties to gender neutral writing also due to gender agreement for adjectives like bueno ("good") and nouns, e.g. for professions panadero ("baker"), which signal masculine gender and using the other available form would signal exclusively feminine.

Germanic languages


Icelandic uses a similar system to other Germanic languages in distinguishing three 3rd-person genders in the singular – hann (masculine gender), hún (feminine gender), það (neuter gender). However it also uses this three-way distinction in the plural: þeir (m. only), þær (f. only), þau (n., which includes mixed gender). It is therefore possible to be gender-specific in all circumstances should one wish – although of course þau can be used for gender-inclusiveness. Otherwise the form used is determined grammatically (i.e., by the gender of the noun replaced). In general statements the use of menn would be preferable as it is less specific than þau.


In Norwegian, a new word was proposed, hin ('sie' or 'hir') to fill the gap between the third person pronouns hun ('she') and han ('he'). Hin is very rarely used, and in limited special interest groups; it is not embraced by society as a whole. A reason for the marginal interest in a neuter gender word is the constructed nature of the word, and that the word is homonymous with several older words both in official language and dialectal speech, such as hin ('the other') and hinsides ('beyond'). One can also use man or en or den (en means 'one'). These three are considered impersonal. Amongst LGBT interest groups the use of the word 'hen' after the Swedish implementation in 2010 is now in use.[75]


The Swedish language has 4 grammatical genders: masculine, feminine, reale and neutral , which correspond to the 3rd person forms han, hon, den, det ("he, she, it, it"). The other forms are gender neutral: singular 1st jag, 2nd du, 3rd indefinite/impersonal man, plural 1st vi, 2nd ni, 3rd de. Neutral is characterised by the definite singular article '-t' whereas the rest end with '-n'. The same distinction applies to the indefinite adjectival singular forms. For people and animals with specified gender the masculine or feminine are used. There is no grammatical way to make gender distinction in plural.

In Swedish, the word hen was introduced generally in the 2000s as a complement to the gender-specific hon ("she") and han ("he"). It can be used when the gender of a person is not known or when it is not desirable to specify them as either a "she" or "he". The word was proposed by Rolf Dunås in 1966, and could be used occasionally, like in a guideline from the Swedish building council from 1980, authored by Rolf Reimers. Its origin may have been a combination of han and hon.

It was proposed again in 1994, with reference to the Finnish hän, similarly pronounced, a personal pronoun that is gender-neutral, since Finnish completely lacks grammatical gender. In 2009 it was included in Nationalencyklopedin. However, it did not receive widespread recognition until around 2010, when it began to be used in some texts, and provoked some media debates and controversy, but is included since 2015 in Svenska Akademiens ordlista, the most authoritative glossary of the Swedish language, by the Swedish Academy.[76]

As of 2016 Swedish manuals of style treat "hen" as a neologism. Major newspapers like Dagens Nyheter have recommended against its usage, though some journalists still use it. The Swedish Language Council has not issued any general recommendations against the use of hen, but advises against the use of the object form henom ("her/him"); it instead recommends using hen as both the subject and object form. Hen has two basic usages: as a way to avoid a stated preference to either gender; or as a way of referring to individuals who are transgender, who prefer to identify themselves as belonging to a third gender or who reject the division of male/female gender roles on ideological grounds. Its entry will cover two definitions: as a reference to individual's belonging to an unspecified sex or third gender, or where the sex is not known.

Traditionally, Swedish offers other ways of avoiding using gender-specific pronouns; e.g., "vederbörande" ("the referred person") and "man" ("one", as in "Man borde..."/"One should...") with its objective form "en" or alternatively "en" as both subjective and objective since "man"/"one" sounds the same as "man"/"male adult" although they are discernible through syntax. "Denna/Denne" ("this one") may be used to refer to a non-gender-specific referent already or soon-to-be mentioned ("Vederbörande kan, om denne så vill,..."/"The referent may, if they wish,..."). One method is rewriting into the plural, as Swedish – like English – has only gender-neutral pronouns in the plural. Another method is writing the pronoun in the referent's grammatical gender ("Barnet får om det vill."/"The child is allowed to, if it wants to." The word "barn" is grammatically neuter, thus the use of the third-person neuter pronoun "det"); some nouns retain their traditional pronouns, e.g., "man"/"man" uses "han"/"he", "kvinna"/"woman" uses "hon"/"she", and "människa"/"human being" uses "hon"/"she". While grammatically correct, using "den/det" to refer to human beings may sound as if the speaker regards the referenced human beings as objects.


The German language uses 3 genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. These are distinguished only in 3rd person singular, together with indefinite man ("one", "you").

Singular: 1st: ich, 2nd: du, 3rd: er, sie, es, man

Plural: 1st: wir, 2nd: ihr, 3rd: sie,

er is declined as ihn, ihm, seiner, sie as sie, ihr, ihrer and es as es, ihm, seiner.

Other Indo-European languages


Armenian does not distinguish gender, the word նա (na) meaning both 'he' and 'she'. For inanimate or inhuman words, the demonstratives are used.


The Persian language has no distinction between animated male and female; "he" and "she" are expressed by the same pronoun u (او). Singular inanimate as 'it' is referred by an (آن).


Uniquely among Indo-European languages, Tocharian A (also known as Eastern Tocharian) distinguishes gender in the first person, using näṣ for the male speaker and ñuk for the female speaker.[77]


In Welsh, singular personal pronouns are gender-specific (hi, "she"; e,ef,fe,fo,o, "he"). It translates as he or she according to the grammatical gender of the referent noun. However, when it translates an intangible referent, hi (she) is used.[78] The singular possessive pronoun ei is the same word for both men and women, but in some instances it mutates the following word differently depending on whether it means "his" or "her" - the masculine "ei" incurres a soft mutation, while the feminine "ei" mutates either spirantly, or prefixes a "h" in the case of vowels. Gender is inflected through mutation - feminine singular nouns mutate after "y(r)" and cause mutations in words following them. and both cause different mutations following the possessive "ei".

  • Bydd hi'n rhy hwyr erbyn 'ny, It will be too late by then;
  • ei chath, her aunt; ei gath, his aunt; but
  • ei nith, his or her niece.

There has been a little use of "hw" (from "hwythau") as a gender-neutral singular pronoun for use with people, using nasal mutations and the addition of "h" for words beginning with vowels following the possessive "ei".

  • "ei nghath hw", their cat; but
  • "ei horen", her or their orange.

Other languages

Afro-Asiatic languages

In most Afro-Asiatic languages only the first-person pronouns (singular and plural) are gender-inclusive: second and third person pronouns are gender-specific.


In Arabic there are gender distinctions, masculine and feminine, in the 3rd person, singular (and in the 2nd person, singular, as well). In addition, the verbs themselves in present tense, as well as adjectives, have a different form of masculine and feminine.

In Arabic: "Hi[a]" هي is the 3rd person, singular, feminine. "Hu[a]" هو is the 3rd person, singular, masculine.


Hebrew makes a distinction between masculine and feminine in the 2nd and 3rd person singular and plural. The masculine is collective and inclusive, but colloquially the masculine plural forms may be heard as gender-neutral. Hebrew is a pronoun dropping language. Verbs inflect according to gender, number and person in virtually all forms of 2nd and 3rd singular and plural. Though the 1st person pronoun is not gender-specific, the verbs, adjectives, numbers etc. all distinguish whether the speaker is male or female.

First person singular First person plural
Non-specific אֲנִי (aní) אֲנַחְנוּ (anákhnu)
Second person sing. Second person pl. Third person sing. Third person pl.
Masculine אַתָּה (atá) אַתֶּם (atém) הוּא (hu) הֵם (hem)
Feminine אַתְּ (at) אַתֶּן (atén) הִיא (hi) הֵן (hen)

Asian languages


Written Chinese has gone in the opposite direction, from non-gendered to gendered pronouns, though this has not affected the spoken language.

In spoken standard Mandarin, there is no gender distinction in personal pronouns: the pronoun () can mean "he", "she", or "it". However, when the antecedent of the spoken pronoun is unclear, native speakers will assume it is a male person.[79] In 1917, the Old Chinese graph (, from , "woman") was borrowed into the written language to specifically represent "she" by Liu Bannong. As a result, the old character (), which previously also meant "she" in written texts, is sometimes restricted to meaning "he" only. In contrast to most Chinese characters coined to represent specifically male concepts, the character is formed with the ungendered character for person rén (), rather than the character for male nán ()."[80]

The creation of gendered pronouns in Chinese was part of the May Fourth Movement to modernize Chinese culture, and specifically an attempt to assert sameness between Chinese and the European languages, which generally have gendered pronouns.[79] Of all the contemporary neologisms from the period, the only ones to remain in common use are () for objects, (, from niú , "cow") for animals, and ( from shì , "revelation") for gods. Although Liu and other writers tried to popularize a different pronunciation for the feminine , including yi from the Wu dialect and tuo from a literary reading, these efforts failed, and all forms of the pronoun retain identical pronunciation. This identical pronunciation of the split characters holds true for not only Mandarin but also many of the varieties of Chinese.[80] There is a recent trend on the Internet for people to write "TA" in Latin script, derived from the pinyin romanization of Chinese, as a gender-neutral pronoun.[81][82]

The Cantonese third-person-singular pronoun is keui5 (), and may refer to people of any gender. For a specifically female pronoun, some writers replace the person radical rén () with the female radical (), forming the character keui5 (). However, this analogous variation to is neither widely accepted in standard written Cantonese nor grammatically or semantically required. Moreover, while the character keui5 () has no meaning in classical Chinese, the character keui5 () has a separate meaning unrelated to its dialectic use in standard or classical Chinese.[83]


There are no pure gender specific third-person pronouns in Korean. In translation or in creative writing in the modern Korean, the coined term 그녀 "geu-nyeo" ( "geu", a demonstrative meaning 'that' and "nyeo", derivative of a Chinese character 女 'woman') is used to refer to a third-person female and "geu" (originally a demonstrative) is used to refer to either a male third person or sometimes a neutral gender.


Just like Korean, pure personal pronouns used as the anaphor did not exist in traditional Japanese. Most of the time the language drops the pronoun completely or refers to people using their name with a suffix such as the gender-neutral -san added to it.

For example, "Ms. Saitō came" would be "斎藤さんが 来ました" (Saitō-san ga kimashita).

In the modern Japanese, kare () is the male and kanojo (彼女) the female third-person pronouns. Historically, kare was a word in the demonstrative paradigm (i.e., a system involving demonstrative prefixes, ko-, so-, a-, and do-), used to point to an object that is physically far but psychologically near. The feminine counterpart kanojo, on the other hand, is a combination of kano (adjective version of ka-) and jo ("woman"), coined for the translation of its Western equivalents. It was not until the Meiji period that kare and kanojo were commonly used as the masculine and feminine pronoun in the same way as their Western equivalents. Although their usage as the Western equivalent pronouns tends to be infrequent—because pronouns tend to be dropped in the first place—kare-shi and kanojo are commonly used today to mean "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" respectively.[84]

First-person pronouns, ore, boku, and watashi, while not explicitly carrying gender, can strongly imply gender based on the inherent levels of politeness or formality as well as hierarchical connotation.[85] While boku and ore are traditionally known to be masculine pronouns and watashi is characterized as feminine, boku is considered to be less masculine than ore and often denotes a softer form of masculinity. To denote a sense of authority, males will tend to resort to ore to display a sense of confidence to their peers.[85]


Turkish does not have a system of grammatical gender and does not have any gender-specific pronouns. The Turkish singular third-person pronoun o (he/she/it) is completely gender-neutral and can be used to refer to masculine, feminine, and neuter nouns. The plural third-person pronoun onlar (they) is used the same way.

Turkish is also a null-subject language which means pronouns can usually be dropped while retaining the meaning of the sentence. For example, the sentences "O okuldan geldi." and "Okuldan geldi." both translate to "He/she/it came from school."


Thai pronouns are numerous. Here is only a short list.

First person Second person Third person
Masculine ผม (phom) นาย (nai) (informal) หมอนั่น (mhor nun) (derogative)
Feminine ดิฉัน (di chan) ชั้น (chan) นางนั่น (nang nun) (derogative)
Neuter ฉัน (chan) เรา (rao) คุณ (khun) เธอ (ther) มัน (man), เขา (khao), แก (kae), ท่าน (than)

The pronoun เธอ (ther, lit: you) is semi-feminine. It can be used when the speaker or the listener (or both) are female. It is seldom used when both parties are male.

The third neuter pronouns are used differently. มัน (man) is often used to refer to inanimate objects and non-human animate beings. However, this pronoun can also be used to refer to people in informal situations (e.g., a mother speaking about her child, or a person speaking about a close friend). The pronouns เขา (khao), แก (kae), and ท่าน (than) are often used in formal situations – with the latter being the most formal and แก (kae) being used to refer to a person older than the speaker.

These three pronouns can also be used to refer to a different grammatical person. เขา (khao) can be used in the first person, while แก (kae) and ท่าน (than) can be used in the second person.

Austronesian languages


Malay, both in its Malaysian and Indonesian variants, has no gender pronouns. In addition, nouns referring to gendered family members (cousin, brother, sister, niece, nephew) are gender-neutral. In these cases, gender is specified by adding the word 'male' or 'female' to the noun (e.g. lembu betina, 'female cattle' for 'cow', or kakak lelaki, 'male senior sibling' for 'big brother').


The Lukunosh dialect of Mortlockese has two 3rd person pronouns. The independent forms of the 3rd person singular and plural are /ii/ and /iir/ respectively. These change forms depending on if it is used as a subject proclitic, direct object suffix, or possessive suffix.[86]


Old Rapa is the indigenous language of Rapa Iti, an island of French Polynesia located within the Bass Islands archipelago. Old Rapa itself does not have a pronominal system that consists of any gender – specific pronouns. However, similar to many other languages within the Polynesian language family, it contains singular, dual, and plural pronouns. These pronouns of Old Rapa also define the degree of clusivity in the first person dual and the first person plural forms.

In the first person tense – as depicted in the table below – Old Rapa contains pronouns that are exclusive first person singular (ou – free; ku – bound), however does not contain pronouns that are inclusive first person singular. Old Rapa also consists of pronouns to describe both the exclusive and inclusive first person dual and first person plural forms. By definition, exclusive pronouns are pronouns that include the speaker and one or more others, although does not include the person being addressed. Inclusive pronouns are pronouns that work in the opposite fashion, by including the speaker and the addressee, and potentially more others.

Pronouns in Old Rapa[87]




Dual Plural
First Person Exclusive ou ku māua mātou
First Person Inclusive tāua tātou
Second Person koe kōrua koutou
Third Person 'ōna,koia na rāua rātou

For both the second and third person tense, Old Rapa contains pronouns that describe second person singular (however devoiding a distinction for bound words), second person dual, and second person plural. It also consists of unique pronouns for the third person singular, third person dual, and third person plural forms.[87]

When referring to possessive indicators on pronouns, the Old Rapa language adheres closely to the same pronominal system. There exists possessive pronouns for each case: inclusive first person singular, first person dual, and first person plural; exclusive first person singular, first person dual, and first person plural; second person singular, second person dual, and second person plural; and third person singular, third person dual, and third person plural.[88]

The possessive pronouns of Old Rapa are constructed following three morphemes:

"the indefinite article (te) + the possessive marker (a/o) + pronoun"[89]

Possessive Pronouns in Old Rapa[88]
Singular Dual Plural
First Person Inclusive tōku tāku tō māua tā māua tō mātou tā mātou
Exclusive ~~~ ~~~ tō tāua tā tāua tō tātou tā tātou
Second Person tōkoe tākoe tō kōrua tā kōrua tō koutou tā koutou
Third Person tōna tāna tō rāua tā rāua tō rātou tā rātou

However, when spoken, both the indefinite article and possessive markers are put together into what is known as its portmanteau form (tō/tā). As is evident in the following table presenting the Possessive Pronouns of Old Rapa, the all singular, dual, and plural forms adopt the distinction between inalienable objects. When speaking in either the first person singular and third person singular modes, the bond forms of the initial pronouns are used.

tō-ku 'are

INDEF.PossO-1S house

'my house'

tā-na tāne

INDEF.PossA-3S man

'her husband'

Example of First Person Exclusive Singular (Bound) and Third Person Singular (Free) sentence structure.

Example of Second Person Singular (Free)

  • kāre -koe puta
    • kāre (Negative Element) + -koe (Article + Possessive + Second Person Singular creating the 'Your') + puta (book)
      • 'You don't have your book.' (Literal translation ~ 'Your book doesn't exist')[91]


Wuvulu-Aua does not have known gender expression for pronouns. It does distinguish between singular, dual, and plural usage of pronouns. The 3rd person singular uses the same prefix as 1st and 2nd person pronouns, i. Only 1st person pronouns can be inclusive or exclusive. The plural form of pronouns originally referred to a group of three, but eventually changed to refer to three or more.[92]

1st Person2nd Person3rd Person
Dualʔa-rua (inclusive)
ai-rua (exclusive)
Pluralʔo-ʔolu (inclusive)
ai-ʔolu (exclusive)

Uralic languages


Finnish, as other Uralic languages, has no direct nor indirect way to express gender with pronouns. The Finnish hän has inspired the introduction of the Swedish hen pronoun. Finnish is essentially a pronoun dropping language but in the 3rd person singular it is common to use a pronoun explicitly. Hän/he are only used about humans, while se/ne are used about animals, inanimate things, and sometimes about people colloquially.

Singular – 1st person: minä, 2nd: sinä, 3rd: hän/se

Plural – 1st person: me, 2nd: te, 3rd: he/ne

The same basic system also applies to the close relative of Finnish, the Estonian language.

Singular – 1st person:"mina", 2nd: "sina", 3rd: "tema" / for inanimate objects "see"

Plural – 1st person "meie", 2nd person: "teie", 3rd: "nemad" / for inanimate objects "need"

In both languages there are colloquial and literary forms for pronouns (cf. Colloquial Finnish). Using a full-length pronoun in colloquial speech can be used to give a pronoun more semantic weight.


Hungarian does not have gendered pronouns nor any other concept of linguistic gender. The third person singular pronoun for a person (or a pet) is ő.

Constructed languages


Esperanto has no universally accepted gender-neutral pronouns, but there are several proposals. Zamenhof proposed using the pronoun ĝi (literally "it"). Some writers also use other established pronouns like tiu ("this" or "that") or oni ("one"). Still other writers use neologisms such as ri for this purpose.


Ido has gendered and gender-neutral pronouns in the third person, both singular and plural. The gendered pronouns are:

-il(u) (he)

-el(u) (she)

-ol(u) (it)

The final "u" can be dropped in all of these cases without any change in meaning.

Additionally there is the genderless "lu" which can freely replace any of the above forms if the gender of the referent is ignored, if one wants it to be left ambiguous, or simply because the speaker doesn't want to state it.

All of these pronouns have a plural form, to translate the English "they":

-ili (when all of the referents are male)

-eli (when all of the referents are female)

-oli (when all of the referents are inanimate), and

-li, which can substitute any of the above under any circumstances, but can also be used if the referents are of mixed genders.

First and second person pronouns are all gender-neutral:

-me (I)

-tu (you, sing. informal)

-vu (you, sing. formal)

-ni (we)

-vi (you, plural, both formal and informal).


Because Interlingua is an Italic constructed language, it shares many traits with Spanish, Italian and French.

Singular: 1st person: io, 2nd: tu, 3rd: ille, illa for humans/animals and illo for objects

Plural: 1st: nos, 2nd: vos, 3rd: illes, illas, illos as plural of above.

Third person singular on is used for indefinite "one"/"you" as in French.

Lingua Franca Nova

Lingua Franca Nova ("Elefen") has two third person singular pronouns: el, used for humans and animals; lo, used for all else. Los is used for the third person plural, se for third person reflexive (singular and plural), and sua for third person possessives (singular and plural).

See also


  1. "Johnson" (2017-04-01). "English has a traditional solution to gender-neutral pronouns". The Economist. Retrieved 2017-04-08.
  2. Audring, Jenny (2008-10-01). "Gender assignment and gender agreement: Evidence from pronominal gender languages". Morphology. 18 (2): 93–116. doi:10.1007/s11525-009-9124-y. ISSN 1871-5621 via
  3. Huddleston, Rodney; Pullum, Geoffrey (2002). The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 492. ISBN 0-521-43146-8. Purportedly sex-neutral he
  4. Fowler, H. W. (2015). Butterfield, Jeremy (ed.). Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage. Oxford University Press. pp. 367, 372. ISBN 978-0-19-966135-0.
  5. Garner, Bryan A. (2016). Garner's Modern English Usage. Oxford University Press. p. 460. ISBN 978-0-19-049148-2.
  6. Garner, Bryan A. (2016). Garner's Modern English Usage. Oxford University Press. p. 195. ISBN 978-0-19-049148-2. ... resort to it cautiously because some people may doubt your literacy
  7. Siewierska, Anna; Gender Distinctions in Independent Personal Pronouns; in Haspelmath, Martin; Dryer, Matthew S.; Gil, David; Comrie, Bernard (eds.) The World Atlas of Language Structures, pp. 182–185. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-19-925591-1
  8. Corbett, Greville G. (2011). "Sex-based and Non-sex-based Gender Systems". In Dryer, Matthew S.; Haspelmath, Martin (eds.). The World Atlas of Language Structures Online. Munich: Max Planck Digital Library. Retrieved 2013-04-27.
  9. Garner, Bryan A. (2016). Garner's Modern English Usage. Oxford University Press. p. 821. ISBN 978-0-19-049148-2.
  10. Williams, John (1990s). "History — Modern Neologism". Gender-Neutral Pronoun FAQ. Archived from the original on December 5, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
  11. Canadian government (12 December 2013). "Canadian War Veterans Allowance Act (1985) as amended 12 December 2013" (pdf). Government of Canada. R.S.C., 1985, c. W-3. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  12. Huddleston, Rodney; Pullum, Geoffrey (2002). The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 488–489. ISBN 0-521-43146-8.
  13. Division of Public Affairs (September 2011). "Style Guide" (PDF). Vanderbilt University. p. 34. Retrieved 2013-09-17. Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth.
  14. Associated Press (2015). "transgender". The Associated Press Stylebook 2015. ISBN 9780465097937. Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly.
  15. Sponsored by the American Medical Association and The Fenway Health with unrestricted support from Fenway Health and Pfizer. "Meeting the Health Care Needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) People: The End to LGBT Invisibility". The Fenway Institute. p. 24. Archived from the original (PowerPoint Presentation) on 2013-10-20. Retrieved 2013-09-17. Use the pronoun that matches the person's gender identity
  16. Elizondo, Paul M. III, D.O.; Wilkinson, Willy, M.P.H.; Daley, Christopher, M.D. (13 November 2015). "Working With Transgender Persons". Phychiatric Times. Retrieved 2013-09-17. If you are not sure which pronoun to use, you can ask the patient
  17. "Glossary of Gender and Transgender Terms" (PDF). Fenway Health. January 2010. pp. 2 and 5. Retrieved 2015-11-13. listen to your clients – what terms do they use to describe themselves... Pronoun preference typically varies, including alternately using male or female pronouns using the pronoun that matches the gender presentation at that time.
  18. "Competencies for Counseling with Transgender Clients" (PDF). Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Counseling. 18 September 2009. p. 3. honor the set of pronouns that clients select and use them throughout the counseling process
  19. "Frequently Asked Questions on Trans Identity" (PDF). Common Ground – Trans Etiquette. University of Richmond. Retrieved 2013-09-17. Use the correct name and pronoun- Most names and pronouns are gendered. It's important to be considerate of one's gender identity by using the pronouns of the respective gender pronouns [sic] , or gender-‐neutral pronouns, they use
  20. Glicksman, Eve (April 2013). "Transgender terminology: It's complicated". Vol 44, No. 4: American Psychological Association. p. 39. Retrieved 2013-09-17. Use whatever name and gender pronoun the person prefers
  21. "Transgender FAQ". Resources. Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved 2013-09-17. should be identified with their preferred pronoun
  22. "NAMES, PRONOUN USAGE & DESCRIPTIONS" (PDF). GLAAD Media Reference Guide. GLAAD. May 2010. p. 11. Retrieved 2013-09-17. It is usually best to report on transgender people's stories from the present day instead of narrating them from some point or multiple points in the past, thus avoiding confusion and potentially disrespectful use of incorrect pronouns.
  23. Quirk, Randolph; Greenbaum, Sidney; Leech, Geoffrey; Svartvik, Jan (1985). A comprehensive grammar of the English language. Harlow: Longman. pp. 316–317, 342. ISBN 978-0-582-51734-9.
  24. Miller, Casey; Swift, Kate (1995) [1981]. Mosse, Kate (ed.). The Handbook of Non-Sexist Writing (3rd British ed.). London: The Women's Press. p. 58. ISBN 0-7043-4442-4.
  25. Neil Gaiman, 2008, The Graveyard Book, p. 25.
  26. Wagner, Susanne (22 July 2004). "Gender in English Pronouns: Myth and Reality" (PDF). Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  27. O'Conner, Patricia T.; Kellerman, Stewart (July 21, 2009). "All-Purpose Pronoun". The New York Times.
  28. Fowler, H. W. (2009) [1926]. A Dictionary of Modern English Usage. Oxford University Press. pp. 648–649. ISBN 978-0-19-958589-2. Reprint of the original 1926 edition, with an introduction and notes by David Crystal.
  29. Huddleston, Rodney; Pullum, Geoffrey K. (2002). The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 492. ISBN 0-521-43146-8.
  30. Miller, Casey; Swift, Kate (1995) [1981]. Mosse, Kate (ed.). The Handbook of Non-Sexist Writing (3rd British ed.). London: The Women's Press. pp. 46–48. ISBN 0-7043-4442-4.
  31. Dale Spender, Man Made Language, Pandora Press, 1998, p. 152.
  32. Reference to Meaning of Word "Persons" in Section 24 of British North America Act, 1867. (Judicial Committee of The Privy Council). Edwards v. A.G. of Canada [1930] A.C. 124 Archived March 28, 2015, at the Wayback Machine. Human Rights in Canada: A Historical Perspective.
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  35. Adendyck, C. (7 July 1985). "[Letter commenting on] Hypersexism And the Feds". The New York Times.
  36. Fowler, H. W. (2015). Butterfield, Jeremy (ed.). Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage. Oxford University Press. p. 814. ISBN 978-0-19-966135-0.
  37. Huddleston, Rodney; Pullum, Geoffrey K. (2002). The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge / New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 494. ISBN 0-521-43146-8.
  38. Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of (1845) [1759]. "Letters to his Son, CCCLV, dated 27 April 27, 1759". The Works of Lord Chesterfield. Harper. p. 568..
    Quoted in: Fowler, H. W.; Burchfield, R. W. (1996). The New Fowler's Modern English Usage. Oxford University Press. p. 779. ISBN 9780198610212.
  39. Pullum, Geoffrey (13 April 2012). "Sweden's gender-neutral 3rd-person singular pronoun". ... our pronoun they was originally borrowed into English from the Scandinavian language family ... and since then has been doing useful service in English as the morphosyntactically plural but singular-antecedent-permitting gender-neutral pronoun known to linguists as singular they
  40. Michael Newman (1996) Epicene pronouns: The linguistics of a prescriptive problem; Newman (1997) "What can pronouns tell us? A case study of English epicenes", Studies in language 22:2, 353–389.
  41. "Ne doesn't like tem zeeself". The Economist. August 2010. Retrieved 26 June 2016. according to Mr Baron's count there have been 'more than 100 attempts to coin a gender-neutral pronoun over the course of more than 150 years', including heesh, hse, kin, ve, ta, tey, fm, z, ze, shem, se, j/e, jee, ey, ho, po, ae, et, heshe, hann, herm, ala, de, ghach ...
  42. As with all pronouns beginning in h, the h is dropped when the word is unstressed. The reduced form a is pronounced /ə/.
  43. Williams, John (1990s). "History - Native-English GNPs". Gender-Neutral Pronoun FAQ. Archived from the original on December 5, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
  44. Arthur Hughes, Peter Trudgill, Dominic Watt, English Accents and Dialects: An Introduction to Social and Regional Varieties of English in the British Isles, 5th edition, Routledge, 2012, p. 35.
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  51. "Skyhouse Community – Bylaws". Retrieved 2010-06-22.
  52. "Bylaws – Sandhill – 1982". Federation of Egalitarian Communities. Retrieved 2010-06-22.
  53. "Bylaws – East Wind – 1974". Federation of Egalitarian Communities. Archived from the original on 2013-04-15. Retrieved 2010-06-22.
  54. "Bylaws – Twin Oaks". Federation of Egalitarian Communities. Retrieved 2010-06-22.
  55. "Visitor Guide – Twin Oaks Community: What does all this stuff mean?". Retrieved 2010-06-22.
  56. "Pronouns - Safe Zone". Western Oregon University. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  57. Sullivan, Caitlin; Bornstein, Kate (1996). Nearly Roadkill: an Infobahn erotic adventure. High Risk Books via Google Books.
  58. Template:Cite-journal.
  59. Capitalized E, Eir, Eirs, Em. The change from ey to E means that, in speech, the Spivak subject pronoun would often be pronounced the same as he, since the h of he is not pronounced in unstressed positions.
  60. Williams, John. "Technical - Declension of the Major Gender-Neutral Pronouns". Gender-Neutral Pronoun FAQ Archived February 22, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  61. Black, Judie (1975-08-23). "Ey Has a Word for it". Chicago Tribune. p. 12.
  62. Used in several college humanities texts published by Bandanna Books. Originated by editor Sasha Newborn in 1982.
  63. Dicebox's gender-neutral or "gender-irrelevant" pronoun. (2003)
  64. "Explication of Peh". Dicebox. 2012-09-28. Retrieved 2014-11-08.
  65. MediaMOO's "person" gender, derived from Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time (1979), in which people of 2137 use "per" as their sole third-person pronoun.
  66. proposed in 1884 by American lawyer Charles Crozat Converse. Reference: "Epicene". The Mavens' Word of the Day. Random House. 1998-08-12. Retrieved 2006-12-20.
  67. Proposed by New Zealand writer Keri Hulme some time in the 1980s. Also used by writer Greg Egan for non-gendered artificial intelligences and "asex" humans.
    Egan, Greg (July 1998). Diaspora. Gollancz. ISBN 0-7528-0925-3.
    Egan, Greg. Distress. ISBN 1-85799-484-1.
  68. A discussion about theory of Mind Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine: a paper from 2000 that uses and defines these pronouns
  69. Stotko, Elaine M.; Troyer, Margaret (21 September 2007). "A New Gender-Neutral Pronoun in Baltimore, Maryland: A Preliminary Study". American Speech. 82 (3): 262–279. doi:10.1215/00031283-2007-012 via
  70. "Language Log: Yo". January 7, 2008.
  71. Example:
    Bornstein, Kate (1998). My Gender Workbook. ISBN 0-415-91673-9.
  72. Creel, Richard (1997). "Ze, Zer, Mer". APA Newsletters. The American Philosophical Association. Retrieved 2006-05-15.
  73. Gender-Neutral Pronoun FAQ Archived June 25, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  74. Foldvary, Fred (2000). "Zhe, Zher, Zhim". The Progress Report. Economic Justice Network. Archived from the original on 2011-01-31. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  75. "Should we be using "hen," as well as "she" and "he" in Norway? [norwegian]". Aftenposten. Aftenposten. 2015-05-01. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  76. Benaissa, Mina (29 July 2014). "Svenska Akademiens ordlista inför hen". Sveriges Radio.
  77. Fortson, Benjamin W. (2010). Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction (2nd ed.). Chichester, United Kingdom; Malden, Massachusetts: John Wiley & Sons; Blackwell Publishing. p. 407. ISBN 9781405188968. Retrieved 12 May 2011.
  78. King, Gareth (1993). Modern Welsh. A Comprehensive Grammar. (Routledge Grammars). London and New York: Routledge. p. 94. ISBN 0-415-09269-8.
  79. Ettner, Charles (2001). "In Chinese, men and women are equal - or - women and men are equal?". In Hellinger, Maris; Bussmann, Hadumod (eds.). Gender Across Languages: The Linguistic Representation of Women and Men. 1. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 36.
  80. Liu, Lydia (1995). Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity--China, 1900-1937. Stanford University Press. pp. 36–38.
  82. Victor Mair (2013), "He / she / it / none of the above," Language Log, April 19, 2013.
  83. "Chinese Character Database: Phonologically Disambiguated According to the Cantonese Dialect". Chinese University of Hong Kong. 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-16. The entry for "" ( notes its use as a third-person pronoun in Cantonese, but the entry for "姖" ( does not; it only gives the pronunciation geoi6 and notes that it is used in place names.
  84. Japanese: Revised Edition, Iwasaki, Shoichi. Japanese: Shoichi Iwasaki. Philadelphia, PA: J. Benjamins, 2002. Print.
  85. Japanese Language, Gender, and Ideology: Cultural Models and Real People, Okamoto, Shigeko, and Janet S. Shibamoto. Smith. Japanese Language, Gender, and Ideology: Cultural Models and Real People. New York: Oxford UP, 2004. Print.
  86. Odango, Emmerson. 2015. Afféú Fangani ‘Join Together’: A Morphophonemic Analysis Of Possessive Suffix Paradigms And A Discourse-Based Ethnography Of The Elicitation Session In Pakin Lukunosh Mortlockese. University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Ph.D. dissertation. p.121
  87. Walworth, Mary E. The Language Of Rapa Iti: Description Of A Language In Change. University of Hawaii. p. 79.
  88. Walworth, Mary E. The Language Of Rapa Iti: Description Of A Language In Change. University of Hawaii. p. 81.
  89. Walworth, Mary E. The Language Of Rapa Iti: Description Of A Language In Change. University of Hawaii. p. 80.
  90. Walworth, Mary (2017). Reo Rapa: A Polynesian Contact Language — Journal of Language Contact. Brill. p. 113.
  91. Walworth, Mary (2017). Reo Rapa: A Polynesian Contact Language — Journal of Language Contact. Brill. p. 112.
  92. Hafford, James A. Wuvulu Grammar and Vocabulary (PDF). p. 55. Retrieved 10 February 2017.

Further reading

  • Anne Curzan (2003). Gender shifts in the history of English. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521820073. (includes chapters on "she" for ships and generic he)
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