What is a Pronoun?

Grammatically, pronouns are words that we use in place of nouns, to avoid repeating those nouns. In this case, we’re talking about the third person singular pronouns: he, him, his, she, her, and hers. In standard English (and many other languages), third person singular pronouns are always gendered.

Cisgender (adj.): Non-trans*.

He/him/his: can indicate that the subject identifies as male.

  • Andrew is going to be my roommate in Gender-Neutral Housing. He is bringing the mini-fridge.

  • Tyler would like for us to meet him at Odegaard to study for the exam.

  • Todd can’t go to the movie tonight because his partner is sick.

She/her/hers: can indicate that the subject identifies as female.

  • Monica called me to say that she is applying to be on the ASUW Queer Student Commission.

  • Sarah brought her new puppy to campus!

  • I think Brittany left her phone on the table. Do you think this is hers?

They/them/theirs: do not indicate the subject’s gender. Functions as both singular and plural pronouns.

  • Carl is interested in studying abroad. They want to talk to you about what to expect.

  • Kris is going to the Gender Discussion Group meeting with us. We shouldn't leave without them.

  • Jo’s fraternity is recruiting new members. Are you interested in checking out their organization?

Other pronoun combinations can include:

  • Ze/hir/hirs, Co/co/cos, and Per/per/pers: do not indicate the subject’s gender.

  • Someone may also just wanted to be referred to only by their name: Sarah went back to Sarah’s house to take care of the puppy. Jo asked if I liked the members of Jo’s fraternity. I told Jo that they seemed like fun people.

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