Gender Identity/Expression and Sexual Orientation Resource Center

Pronouns

What are pronouns?

Pronouns are short words that English speakers use in lieu of continually using someone's name. The most common pronouns are he/him/his and she/her/hers when you are talking about one person (e.g., Matthew took his dog for a walk. He has a corgi.) and they/them/theirs when talking either about one person or a group of people (e.g., Matthew and Maureen went to the store. They bought snacks for the Center.).

In our society, we automatically assume pronouns, which are based on our guess of someone's gender identity. Rather than guess, it is better to either ask or use the person's name instead of assuming their correct pronouns. One way to learn another person's pronouns is when you introduce yourself, you can include your pronouns for the other person. For example, I am Matthew and I use he/him/his pronouns. Below are the most common pronouns that people use. If you encounter a pronoun that you are unfamiliar with, we recommend searching the internet for more information!

He/Him/His

The pronoun sequence, he/him/his/himself, is most commonly attributed to those who identify as men. However, we cannot guess an individual's gender identity by knowing their chosen pronoun, even if society assumes those who use this sequence identify as men. Some examples of this pronoun in use are:

  • He went to the store to buy milk.
  • Please give the piece of cake to him.
  • This piece of cake is his.
  • His favorite kind of cake is funfetti.
  • He thinks highly of himself.

She/Her/Hers

The pronoun sequence, she/her/hers/herself, is most commonly attributed to those who identify as women. However, we cannot guess an individual's gender identity by knowing their chosen pronoun, even if society assumes those who use this sequence identify as women. Some examples of this pronoun in use are:

  • She went to the store to buy milk.
  • Please give the piece of cake to her.
  • This piece of cake is hers.
  • Her favorite kind of cake is funfetti.
  • She thinks highly of herself.

They/Them/Theirs

The pronoun sequence, they/them/theirs/themself(themselves), is most commonly attributed to those in a group. However, we also can use they/them/theirs/themself as a singular pronoun, meant to be more encompassing of gender. Some examples of this pronoun in its singular use are:

  • They went to the store to buy milk.
  • Please give the piece of cake to them.
  • This piece of cake is theirs.
  • Their favorite kind of cake is funfetti.
  • They thinks highly of themself.

Ze/Hir/Hirs

The pronoun sequence, ze(zie)/hir/hirs/hirself, is a common gender inclusive pronoun. However, we cannot guess or assume an individual's gender identity by knowing their chosen pronoun. Some examples of this pronoun in its singular use are:

  • Ze went to the store to buy milk. (Ze is pronounced like the letter 'z')
  • Please give the piece of cake to hir. (Hir is pronounced like 'here')
  • This piece of cake is hirs.(Hirs is pronounced like 'heres')
  • Hir favorite kind of cake is funfetti.
  • Ze thinks highly of hirself. (Hirself is pronounced like 'here-self')