Pronouns

What are pronouns?

Pronouns are words that we can use instead of somebody’s name when we are talking about them. Certain sets of pronouns are often associated with certain genders. For example, the pronouns ‘she’ and ‘her’ are often used when talking about women.

Why do people put their pronouns in their e-mail signatures?

If someone puts their pronouns in their e-mail signature, it means that other people are less likely to have to get their pronouns wrong. This is especially useful for some trans people and for people with names which might make it hard for someone to guess which pronouns they use. Even if people don’t normally get their pronouns wrong, some people choose to put their pronouns in their e-mail signature to show support for their friends and co-workers that need to – doing this makes people feel less like the ‘odd one out’.

Should I put my pronouns in my e-mail signature?

If you want to! Even if nobody ever gets your pronouns wrong, it is a nice way to show other people that you know it’s important to support trans people and other people who often have the wrong pronouns used for them. Putting your pronouns in your e-mail signature shows that you don’t want anyone to feel left out or uncomfortable.

What pronouns should I use for other people?

A person’s pronouns might be shown in their e-mail signature or even on their name badge at work. If you aren’t sure what pronouns to use for someone, you could ask them.

In the English language, women often use the pronouns ‘she’ and ‘her’, men often use the pronouns ‘he’ and ‘him’, and non-binary people (people who are not a boy/man or a girl/woman) use lots of different pronouns (there’s an explanation of some pronouns later on this page). Some people don’t use any pronouns at all and prefer you to just use their name.

How do I use pronouns?

She/her

Samira is a really nice person, I met her at work when it was her first day.

He/him

Vinh has been my friend since school, he was in my class and I used to go swimming with him every weekend.

They/them

Eli is really kind and they volunteer with lots of charities. That’s how I met them.

Ze/hir

Bailey is a nurse and ze works at a hospital in London. I used to work with hir.

(Ze is typically pronounced ‘zee’, rhyming with ‘bee’. Hir is typically pronounced the same as ‘here’, rhyming with ‘cheer’. Pronunciations can vary, if in doubt, ask.)

Xe/xem

Amin moved to Bristol, but xe is coming to visit me next week and I’m excited to see xem!

(Xe is typically pronounced ‘zee’, rhyming with ‘bee’. Xem is typically pronounced the same as ‘zem’, rhyming with ‘stem’. Pronunciations can vary, if in doubt, ask.)

Note: these are just some pronouns a person might use – the best thing to do if you’re not sure is ask them.