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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 gender-specific third-person personal pronouns. 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.
Many of the world's languages do not have gender-specific pronouns. A number of the ones with 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".
Problems of usage may arise in languages like English which have pronominal gender systems, in contexts where a person of unspecified or unknown (social) 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; such use of "he" was also common in English between the 1600s and the latter half of the 20th century (though some regard it as outmoded) or sexist. Use of singular they is another common alternative, but is not universally accepted and regarded by some to be grammatically incorrect.
Pronouns such as who and which are not discussed here, though similar but different consideration may apply to them.
Some languages of the world (including Austronesian languages, many East Asian languages, the Quechuan languages, and the Uralic languages) 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. 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's 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. 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:
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 is much older.
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 ...")
Generally speaking, he refers to males, and she refers to females. 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 like 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 its sex and 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 is used for an animal that is referred to by a proper name (e.g. "Fido adores his blanket".).
She is sometimes used for ships, and may also be used for other inanimates, such as cars. She is also used as an alternative to it for countries, when viewed as political entities.
For the use of he for referring to a person of unspecified sex, as well as the various alternatives to this convention, see the discussion in the sections below.
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.).
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 sex-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.
Whereas "he" and "she" are used for entities treated as persons (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. Quirk et al. give the following example, illustrating use of both "it" and "her" to refer to a bird:
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. Quirk et al. give the following example:
According to The Handbook of Non-Sexist Writing, it is sometimes the "obvious" choice for children. Examples given include:
but also the more colloquial
"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":
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:
In everyday language, generic you is often used instead of one:
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." 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". Older ions of Fowler also took this view.
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).
While the use, in formal English, of he, him or his as a gender-neutral pronoun has traditionally been considered grammatically correct, such use may also be considered to be a violation of gender agreement.:48
It has also been seen as prejudicial by some, as in the following cases:
Its use in some contexts has also been ridiculed, or criticized as absurd or "silly":
"... 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
"... 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
"... 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)
"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."
To redress the perceived imbalance resulting from use of generic he, some authors now adopt a generic she instead, or alternate between she and he. This and some other ways of dealing with the problem are described below.
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:
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".
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. This usage is often called the singular they. Today, it is unexceptional and often not regarded as incorrect, especially in informal language.
Though the "singular they" has a singular antecedent, it is used with a plural verb form.
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:
The generic, or universal, use of he as described above has been a source of controversy, as it appears to reflect a bias towards men and a male-centric society, and against women. 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. Alternatives to generic he have consequently gained in popularity. The chief of these are described in the sections below.
The periphrastics "he or she", "him or her", "his 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[clarification needed] in writing as "he/she", "(s)he", "s/he", "hse",[not in citation given] "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.
Authors sometimes employ rubrics for selecting she or he such as:
Various proposals for the use of 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):
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.
"Co" was coined by feminist writer Mary Orovan in 1970. "Co" is in common usage in intentional communities of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, and "co" appears in the bylaws of several of these communities. 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.
Various variants of ze have been proposed, with different object forms, to meet the need of unspecified gender situations and transgender persons. Kate Bornstein, an American transgender author, used the pronoun forms ze and hir in the book "Nearly Roadkill: an Infobahn erotic adventure" in 1996.
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. When dealing with clients or patients, health practitioners are advised to take note of the pronouns used by the individuals themselves, which may involve using different pronouns at different times. This is also extended to the name preferred by the person concerned. LGBTQ advocacy groups also advise using the pronouns and names preferred or considered appropriate by the person concerned. 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.
The following table summarizes the foregoing approaches.
|Nominative (subject)||Oblique (object)||Possessive determiner||Possessive pronoun||Reflexive|
|He||He is laughing||I called him||His eyes gleam||That is his||He likes himself|
|She||She is laughing||I called her||Her eyes gleam||That is hers||She likes herself|
|It||It is laughing||I called it||Its eyes gleam||That is its||It likes itself|
|One||One is laughing||I called one||One's eyes gleam||That is one's||One likes oneself|
|They||They are laughing||I called them||Their eyes gleam||That is theirs||They like themselves
They like themself
|Conventions based on traditional pronouns|
|She/he||She/he is laughing||I called him/her||His/her eyes gleam||That is his/hers||She/he likes him/herself|
|S/he (compact)||S/he is laughing||I called him/r||His/r eyes gleam||That is his/rs||S/he likes him/herself|
|Apostrophe||'E is laughing||I called h'||'S eyes gleam||That is 'rs||'E likes h'/h'self|
|Gender neutral pronouns|
|E (Spivak, 1983)||E is laughing||I called Em||Eir eyes gleam||That is Eirs||E likes Emself|
|Ey (Elverson, 1975)||Ey is laughing||I called em||Eir eyes gleam||That is eirs||Ey likes eirself|
|Hou (Gom, 2017)||Hou is laughing||I called hee||Hy eyes gleam||That is hine||Hou likes hyself|
|Hu (Humanist, 1982)||Hu is laughing||I called hum||Hus eyes gleam||That is hus||Hu likes humself|
|Peh (Dicebox, 2012?)||Peh is laughing||I called pehm||Peh's eyes gleam||That is peh's||Peh likes pehself|
|Per (Piercy, 1979)||Per is laughing||I called per||Per eyes gleam||That is pers||Per likes perself|
|Thon (Converse, 1884)||Thon is laughing||I called thon||Thons eyes gleam||That is thons||Thon likes thonself|
|Ve (Hulme, c. 1980)||Ve is laughing||I called ver||Vis eyes gleam||That is vis||Ve likes verself|
|Xe (Rickter, c. 1973)||Xe is laughing||I called xem||Xyr eyes gleam||That is xyrs||Xe likes xemself|
|Yo (regional, c. 2004)||Yo is laughing||I called yo||—||—||?|
|Ze, hir (Bornstein, n.d.)||Ze (Zie, Sie) is laughing||I called hir||Hir eyes gleam||That is hirs||Ze (Zie, Sie) likes hirself|
|Ze, mer (Creel, 1997)||Ze is laughing||I called mer||Zer eyes gleam||That is zers||Ze likes zemself|
|Ze, zir (unknown, c. 2013)||Ze (Zie, Sie) is laughing||I called zir/zem||Zir/Zes eyes gleam||That is zirs/zes||Ze (Zie, Sie) likes zirself/zemself|
|Zhe (Foldvary, 2000)||Zhe is laughing||I called zhim||Zher eyes gleam||That is zhers||Zhe likes zhimself|
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, and Czech oni and ony, respectively masculine and feminine equivalents of "they". This is also the case in Greek, 3rd person masc. αυτός/αυτοί and fem. αυτή/αυτές. It is traditional in most languages, in cases of mixed or indeterminate gender, to use the masculine as a default. German differs from the rest, as the feminine form sie is used also as plural for all genders.
For example, in French,
are all gender-inclusive; but
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", 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, tú ("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.
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.
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.
As of 2016[update] 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.
|Look up sie in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
This section may need to be rewritten entirely to comply with Wikipedia's quality standards. (March 2017)
Singular: 1st: ich, 2nd: du, 3rd: er, sie, es
Plural: 1st: wir, 2nd: ihr, 3rd: sie, Sie
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).
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. 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".
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".
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 and in Hebrew, there are gender distictions, 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.
In Hebrew: "Hi" היא is the 3rd person, singular, feminine. "Hu" הוא is the 3rd person, singular, masculine.
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 tā (他) can mean "he", "she", or "it". However, when the antecedent of the spoken pronoun tā is unclear, native speakers will assume it is a male person. In 1917, the Old Chinese graph tā (她, from nǚ 女, "woman") was borrowed into the written language to specifically represent "she" by Liu Bannong. As a result, the old character tā (他), 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 tā is formed with the ungendered character for person rén (人), rather than the character for male nán (男)."
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. Of all the contemporary neologisms from the period, the only ones to remain in common use are tā (它) for objects, tā (牠, from niú 牛, "cow") for animals, and tā (祂 from shì 示, "revelation") for gods. Although Liu and other writers tried to popularize a different pronunciation for the feminine tā, including yi from the Wu dialect and tuo from a literary reading, these efforts failed, and all forms of the pronoun tā retain identical pronunciation. This identical pronunciation of the split characters holds true for not only Mandarin but also many of the varieties of Chinese. 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.
The Cantonese third-person-singular pronoun is keui5 (佢), and may refer to people of any gender. For a specifically female pronoun, some writers replace the person radical rén (亻) with the female radical nǚ (女), forming the character keui5 (姖). However, this analogous variation to tā is neither widely accepted in standard written Cantonese nor grammatically or semantically required. Moreover, while the character keui5 (佢) has no meaning in classical Chinese, the character keui5 (姖) has a separate meaning unrelated to its dialectic use in standard or classical Chinese.
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" (그 "geu", a demonstrative meaning 'that' and 녀 "nyeo", derivative of a Chinese character 女 'woman') is used to refer to a third-person female and 그 "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 gender neutral suffix -san added to it.
For example, "Ms. Saito came" would be "斎藤さんが 来ました" (Saitō-san ga kimashita).
In the modern Japanese, kare (彼) 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 are dropped at the first place—ka-reshi and kanojo are commonly used today to mean "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" respectively.
First-person pronouns, ore, boku, and watashi, while not explicitly carrying gender, can strongly imply gender based on the inherent levels of politeness/formality as well as hierarchical connotation. 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. It is often used by girls who find the pronoun watashi too feminine. To denote a sense of authority, males will tend to resort to ore to display a sense of confidence to their peers.
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.
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').
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.
|First Person Exclusive||ou||ku||māua||mātou|
|First Person Inclusive||tāua||tātou|
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.
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.
The possessive pronouns of Old Rapa are constructed following three morphemes:
"the indefinite article (te) + the possessive marker (a/o) + pronoun"
|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.
Example of First Person Exclusive Singular (Bound) and Third Person Singular (Free) sentence structure.
Example of Second Person Singular (Free)
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.
|1st Person||2nd Person||3rd Person|
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.
Hebrew makes gender distinction between masculine and feminine in 2nd and 3rd persons, both singular and plural. The masculine is collective, inclusive, but colloquially the masculine plural forms may be heard as gender-neutral. Hebrew is a pronoun dropping language, which is facilitated as the verbs are also inflected according to gender, number and person in virtually all forms of 2nd and 3rd singular and plural. Though the pronoun of 1st person is not gender-specific, the verbs, adjectives, numbers etc. all make distinction of whether the speaker is male of female.
Singular – 1st person: אֲנִי (aní), 2nd: masc. אַתָּה (atá) fem. אַתְּ (at), 3rd: masc. הוּא (hu) fem. הִיא (hi)
Plural – 1st person: אֲנַחְנוּ (anákhnu), 2nd: masc. אַתֶּם (atém) fem. אַתֶּן (atén), 3rd: masc. הֵם (hem) fem. הֵן (hen)
Finnish, as other Uralic languages, has no 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 and in some cases pejoratively.
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 closest 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 short and long forms of pronouns, short being just a bit more common for daily use and long being the way to put more emphasis to the pronoun, but there is no way of referring to one's gender, directly or indirectly.
Hungarian also 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.
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:
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:
-tu (you, sing. informal)
-vu (you, sing. formal)
-vi (you, plural, both formal and informal).
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 ("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).
... resort to it cautiously because some people may doubt your literacy
... 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
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 ...
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.
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.
Use the pronoun that matches the person's gender identity
If you are not sure which pronoun to use, you can ask the patient
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.
honor the set of pronouns that clients select and use them throughout the counseling process
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
Use whatever name and gender pronoun the person prefers
should be identified with their preferred pronoun
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.
|Look up Appendix:English third-person singular pronouns or Appendix:List of protologisms/third person singular gender neutral pronouns in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|