Let’s Talk About Pronouns

Let’s Talk About Pronouns (readable PDF)

What are Pronouns?

Pronoun: any of a small set of words in a language that are used as substitutes for nouns or noun phrases and whose referents are named or understood in the context – Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Why are Pronouns so important?

As the definition demonstrates, pronouns provide understanding and context when speaking to others. Many also see pronouns as a label, and to use the correct pronouns when addressing someone shows respect. Neglecting to use someone’s preferred pronouns can make that person feel disrespected, invalidated, dismissed and alienated.

How do I use Pronouns inclusively?

Pronouns often carry a categorization of gender. You might have heard these referred to as “masculine” and “feminine” pronouns such as: she/her/hers and he/him/his.

Many people do not identify as strictly masculine or feminine and it is best not to assume that you know someone’s gender identity. Thus we need gender-inclusive pronouns such as: they/them/theirs.

Wait… there’s more!

In addition to they/them/theirs, there are many other gender-inclusive pronouns out there! Here are a few that you might hear and how you pronounce them, however, we understand this is not a complete list.



  • Introduce your pronouns when meeting someone for the first time.
    *Putting yourself out there will allow others to feel comfortable to do the same.
  • Include pronouns on email signatures, nametags and meeting introductions.
    *Incorporating inclusive language helps to create a culture of belonging.
  • Do not assume you know someone’s gender identity and pronouns: if you have never met them – use they/them/theirs or inquire about pronouns. This is a simple way to show you want to cultivate an environment that respects all gender identities.
    *Remember it is a privilege to not have to worry about what pronouns someone will use for you and not everyone shares that privilege.
  • You might be asking yourself “What if I make a mistake?”. We all slip up sometimes. The best thing to do if you use the incorrect pronouns is to apologize and use the correct pronouns moving forward.
    *Try not to make a big deal or bring extra attention to the situation.


Contact the Office of Campus Life, [email protected].

More Pronoun Resources

Pronouns: A Guide from GLSEN 

Talking About Pronouns in the Workplace

What Are Pronouns? (video)