My Pronouns

I felt that this would get lost on the “About” page, and something involving two declension charts and a detailed analysis of English sentence structure deserves its own page anyway.

English Singular Gender-Neutral Animate Pronouns

Ze

They

Nominative

Ze

They

Possessive

Hir

Their

Objective

Hir

Them

Reflexive

Hirself

Themself

Possessive Predicate Adjective

Hirs

Theirs

Use of these pronouns

Ze can be used in any position in a sentence.

They can be used in most positions in a sentence; however, when the pronoun is separated from the subject by a non-parenthetical or list comma, Ze must be used to avoid antecedent confusion except in cases where there is no other possible antecedent.

Essentially, this means Ze must be used any time when a comma precedes a coordinating conjunction, except in the case of the Oxford Comma.  This is because two linked independent clauses can have separate subjects and objects, and using “they” in one to refer to a gender-neutral person in the other can cause confusion whether the “they” refers to that person or to a different group of persons or objects.  (In the case of another gender-neutral person being mentioned, the situation is the same as with two people who use the same binary pronouns.)

“Chris wrote their name and pronouns on the blackboard.”

“After they wrote their pronouns, Chris asked the girl in the back of the class if the declension chart was readable.”

“When they noticed there was also red, blue, and yellow chalk, Chris wrote the declension chart in color.”

(Even here, the “they” could be ambiguous if context does not clarify.)

“Chris dropped the chalk, and then ze had to bend down and pick it up.  Ze noticed that the chalk had left a mark on hir pants cuff on the way down, and thought to hirself, ‘Dammit, this was my last pair of clean pants.”

Since the declension of Ze essentially follows the declension of the feminine singular and singular They follows the declension of the plural except for taking a singular reflexive suffix, I’m not going to give any more examples here unless somebody specifically asks for it.  (I sometimes get blog hits from the Netherlands or Eastern Europe.)

Note that some people will want Ze (or other pronouns I haven’t covered here) in all situations, and some will want singular They even in situations where it makes the antecedent ambiguous.  I have even heard of people requesting “it,” though this is extremely rare and should never be the default pronoun, since “it” is an inanimate and normally only refers to objects and animals.  These are these people’s personal choices, and you should respect them in speaking and writing.  This page is just a general guideline for a) my own pronouns, b) writing fictional characters, c) if you do not know someone’s preferred pronouns and can’t reasonably guess or are not sure what exact gender-neutral pronouns they want, or d) you are trying to create a form, survey, or auto-post program with a gender-neutral option.  Remember that in a living language, all grammar guides must eventually bow to the speakers of the language–and that goes triply for queerspeak.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog Stats
  • 2,660 views

Join 280 other followers

Top Clicks
  • None
%d bloggers like this: