What is a pronoun?
In short, a pronoun is a word used to replace a noun and have a general reference. It refers to either the person talking or someone/something that is being referred to. Gender pronouns (he/she/they/ze etc.) are used to refer to humans that are being spoken about.
What are your pronouns?
Maybe you have an immediate answer to this question. Maybe you have no idea how you would answer this question. Maybe you immediately answered, but want to learn more and truly figure out how you define yourself. No matter where you’re at, there’s always an opportunity to take a dive into self-exploration.
Keep in mind, there are a multitude of pronouns that an individual can choose to use, this is only just a glimpse of some commonly used pronouns.
Check out this Pronouns Game for practicing some commonly used pronouns!
Some people prefer to not use pronouns at all and may ask that you use their name as the pronoun!
How do we normalize using pronouns?
When you introduce yourself, state your name and your pronouns. For example, “Hey, I am Shep and I use she/her pronouns.” This helps to create a safe space for all humans to share, particularly transgender, non-binary, and gender fluid individuals.
Why is it important to share pronouns?
We can’t always rely on what we see to inform us of someone’s pronouns. We should make it a practice to never assume someone’s pronouns and instead, ask or create a space where sharing pronouns is normalized. The inclusion of pronouns on social media accounts, email signatures, zoom meetings, etc. is a way we can show that all humans belong in the space and we want people to feel comfortable to express themselves and who they are.
What if you make a mistake on someone’s pronouns?
It’s okay! Be sure to correct yourself or ask and clarify with the individual what their pronouns are!
Dating all the way back to the late 18th century, the discussion surrounding gender-neutral pronouns has been present. You can find out more on the history and when gender-neutral pronouns came about from Devin-Norelle and Dennis Baron.
A Note on “They”
The American Dialect Society chose the singular “they” as their 2015 Word of the Year recognizing it as a pronoun referring to a known human by conscious choice, rejecting the traditional gender binary labels. Further, Merriam-Webster chose “they” as the 2019 Word of the Year based on the number of times the definition was searched, primarily due to the nonbinary gender identity.
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“Language is variable, and we tailor our language to context and situation.”