Gender-specific and gender-neutral pronouns
A gender-neutral pronoun, by contrast, is a pronoun that is not associated with a particular gender, and that does not imply male or female. Many English pronouns are gender-neutral, including they, which can be substituted in a singular use (he/she/they).
Many of the world's languages do not have gender-specific pronouns. Others, however – particularly those which have a pervasive system of grammatical gender (or have historically had such a system, as with English) – have gender-specificity in certain of their pronouns, particularly personal pronouns of the third person.
Problems of usage arise in languages such as English, in contexts where a person of unspecified or unknown sex is being referred to, but the most natural available pronouns (he or she) are gender-specific. In such cases a gender-specific pronoun may be used with intended gender-neutral meaning, as he has been used traditionally in English, although she is now sometimes used instead. Use of singular they is another common alternative. Some attempts have been made, by proponents of gender-neutral language, to introduce invented gender-neutral pronouns.
- 1 Overview
- 2 English
- 3 Other languages
- 4 See also
- 5 Notes
- 6 External links
Some languages of the world (including Austronesian languages, many East Asian 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 appears 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 (in the plural case) mixed. In English and many other languages, the masculine form has traditionally 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 leads to sentences such as:
- In English: If anybody comes, tell him. Here the masculine pronoun him refers to a person of unknown sex.
- In French: Vos amis sont arrivés — ils étaient en avance ("Your friends have arrived – they were early"). Here the masculine plural pronoun ils is used rather than the feminine elles, unless it is known that all the friends in question are female (in which case the noun would also change to amies).
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). These are described in full in the article on English personal pronouns.
Generally speaking, the masculine pronoun is used to refer to male persons and male animals; the feminine to refer to female persons and female animals, and sometimes figuratively in referring to such items as ships and countries; and the neuter to refer to inanimate objects and concepts, animals of unspecified or unimportant sex, and sometimes children of unspecified sex. For full details, see Gender in English. 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.)
Historical and dialectal gender-neutral pronouns
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.
It and one as gender-neutral pronouns
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 robin builds its nest in a well-chosen position ... and, after the eggs have hatched, the mother bird feeds her young there for several weeks.
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:
- A child learns to speak the language of its environment.
According to The Handbook of Non-Sexist Writing, it is sometimes the "obvious" choice for children. Examples given include
- To society, a baby's sex is second in importance to its health.
but also the more colloquial
- When the new baby comes, it's going to sleep in Lil's room.
"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 the narrator refers to it as an "it":
- "He looks like nobody but himself," said Mrs. Owens, firmly. ... It was then that ... the child opened its eyes wide in wakefulness. It stared around 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 change of meaning, to enable "one" to be used instead. Compare:
- Each student should save his questions until the end.
- One should save one's questions until the end.
In everyday language, generic you is often used instead of one:
- You should save your questions until the end.
The use of he to refer to a person of unknown gender was prescribed by manuals of style and school textbooks from the early 18th century until around the 1960s, an early example of which is Anne Fisher's 1745 grammar book "A New Grammar". Older editions of Fowler also took this view.
- The customer brought his purchases to the cashier for checkout.
- In a supermarket, anyone can buy anything he needs.
- When a customer argues, always agree with him.
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).
- "All men are created equal."
- "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."
- "Man cannot live by bread alone."
Gender-specific pronouns were also prescribed when one might presume that most members of some group are the same gender (although in recent times, such presumptions are seen as offensive).
- A secretary should keep her temper in check.
- A janitor should respect and listen to his employers.
- Every plumber has his own tools.
- A nurse must always be kind to her patients.
While the use, in formal English, of he, him or his as a gender-neutral pronoun has traditionally been considered grammatically correct, such use can also be considered to be a violation of gender agreement, as well as being prejudicial and, sometimes, confusing or absurd. For instance,
- I believe it's strictly a matter between the patient and his doctor. — Sen. Hayakawa, on the subject of abortion
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.
Governments, clubs, and other groups have interpreted sentences like "every member must take off his shoes before entering the chapel" to mean that therefore female members may not enter the chapel. The Persons Case, the legal battle over whether Canadian women counted as legal persons eligible to sit in the Senate, partially turned on such a point.
Alternatives to generic he
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 equity, 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.
Since at least the 15th century, they (used with verbs conjugated in the plural, as with you), them, their, theirs, and themselves or themself have been used, in an increasingly accepted fashion, as singular pronouns. This usage is often called the singular they. It is widely used and accepted in Britain, Australia, and North America in conversation. At least one style guide has, in the past, advised against this use.
- I say to each person in this room: may they enjoy themselves tonight!
- Anyone who arrives at the door can let themself in using this key.
- Eche of theym sholde ... make theymselfe redy. — Caxton, Sonnes of Aymon (c. 1489)
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:
- 'Tis meet that some more audience than a mother, since nature makes them partial, should o'erhear the speech — Shakespeare, Hamlet
- There's not a man I meet but doth salute me / As if I were their well-acquainted friend — Shakespeare, Comedy of Errors
- If some guy beat me up, then I'd leave them.
- Every bride hopes that their wedding day will go as planned.
He or she, (s)he, etc.
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. They can be abbreviated in writing as "he/she", "(s)he", "s/he", "him/her", "his/her", "himself/herself", but when spoken have no accepted abbreviation. With the exception of "(s)he" and "s/he", one still has the choice of which pronoun to place first.
Alternation of she and he
Authors sometimes employ rubrics for selecting she or he such as:
- Use the gender of the primary author.
- Alternate between "she" and "he".
- Alternate by paragraph or chapter.
- Use he and she to make distinctions between two groups of people.
Some groups and individuals have invented, borrowed and used non-standard pronouns, hoping they will become standard. Various proposals for such changes have been around since at least the 19th century. For example, abbreviated pronouns have been proposed: 'e (for he or she) or 's (for his/hers); h' (for him/her in object case); "zhe" (also "ze"), "zher(s)" (also "zer" or "zir"), "shi"/"hir", and "zhim" (also "mer") for "he or she", "his or her(s)", and "him or her", respectively; 'self (for himself/herself); and hu, hus, hum, humself (for s/he, his/hers, him/her, himself/herself). The American Heritage Book of English Usage says of these efforts:
Like most efforts at language reform, these well-intended suggestions have been largely ignored by the general English-speaking public, and the project to supplement the English pronoun system has proven to be an ongoing exercise in futility. Pronouns are one of the most basic components of a language, and most speakers appear to have little interest in adopting invented ones. This may be because in most situations people can get by using the plural pronoun they or using other constructions that combine existing pronouns, such as he/she or "he or she".
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 or 1859):
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.
The following table summarizes the foregoing approaches.
|Nominative (subject)||Oblique (object)||Possessive determiner||Possessive pronoun||Reflexive|
|He||He laughed||I called him||His eyes gleam||That is his||He likes himself|
|She||She laughed||I called her||Her eyes gleam||That is hers||She likes herself|
|One||One laughed||I called one||One's eyes gleam||—||One likes oneself|
|Conventions based on traditional pronouns|
|She/he||She/he laughed||I called him/her||His/her eyes gleam||That is his/hers||She/he likes him/herself|
|S/he (compact)||S/he laughed||I called him/r||His/r eyes gleam||That is his/rs||S/he likes him/herself|
|Singular they||They laughed||I called them||Their eyes gleam||That is theirs||They like themself|
|Yo (regional)||Yo laughed||I called yo||—||—||?|
|Spivak (1975)||Ey laughed||I called em||Eir eyes gleam||That is eirs||Ey likes eirself|
|Spivak (1983)||E laughed||I called Em||Eir eyes gleam||That is Eirs||E likes Emself|
|Humanist||Hu laughed||I called hum||Hus eyes gleam||That is hus||Hu likes humself|
|Per||Per laughed||I called per||Per eyes gleam||That is pers||Per likes perself|
|Thon||Thon laughed||I called thon||Thons eyes gleam||That is thons||Thon likes thonself|
|Jee, Jeir, Jem||Jee laughed||I called jem||Jeir eyes gleam||That is jeirs||Jee likes jemself|
|Ve||Ve laughed||I called ver||Vis eyes gleam||That is vis||Ve likes verself|
|Xe||Xe laughed||I called xem||Xyr eyes gleam||That is xyrs||Xe likes xemself|
|Ze (or zie or sie) and zir (Germanic Origin)||Ze laughed||I called zir/zem||Zir/Zes eyes gleam||That is zirs/zes||Ze likes zirself|
|Ze (or zie or sie) and hir||Ze laughed||I called hir||Hir eyes gleam||That is hirs||Ze likes hirself|
|Ze and mer||Ze laughed||I called mer||Zer eyes gleam||That is zers||Ze likes zemself|
|Zhe, Zher, Zhim||Zhe laughed||I called zhim||Zher eyes gleam||That is zhers||Zhe likes zhimself|
In most Indo-European languages (though not in 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 (examples of 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 to "they". It is traditional in most languages, in cases of mixed or indeterminate gender, to use the masculine as a default.
For example, in French,
- First person singular je ('I'), me ('me')
- Second person singular (familiar) tu, te ('you')
- First person plural nous ('we', 'us')
- Second person plural vous ('you')
- Third person possessives leur ('their') and son/sa/ses ('his', 'her' 'its', 'their' (masculine-gender object)/ 'his', 'her' 'its', 'their' (feminine-gender object) / 'his', 'her' 'its', 'their' (objects) )
are all gender-inclusive; but
- Third person pronouns il ('he'), le ('him'), ils ('they', referring to an all-male or mixed-gender group) are all masculine.
- Third person pronouns elle ('she'), la ('her') and elles ('they', referring to an all-female group) are all feminine.
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, Portuguese and Catalan also determine the gender of object but not of the possessor, by possessive pronouns. Seu stands for a masculine object in both languages (o seu livro/el seu llibre), while Portuguese uses sua and Catalan seva, seua or sa for feminine ones (a sua mansão/la seva mansió). In some Brazilian sociolects and in rapid speech in all of its dialects, the /u/ in sua may be completely elided, making pairs where Brazilian Portuguese and Catalan terms do not differ significantly in pronunciation and meaning.
In contrast, Spanish possessive pronouns agree neither with the gender of the possessor nor with that of the possession. In the third person, the possessive pronoun su (or sus for plural - number agrees with the possession) 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 for referring to people in Spanish have gender - él for "him" and ella for "her", there is also the gender neutral lo for "it". Spanish pronouns are usually part of the verb and are only used separately when making a distinction. e.g. The verb vivir - "to live" would usually be conjugated in the third person as vive - "He/she lives". 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".
Italian also behaves like French, with phrases such as il mio/tuo/suo libro not implying anything about the owner's sex 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 scese e portò su le valigie di lei (He went downstairs and 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.
Where a language has grammatical gender, gendered pronouns are sometimes used according to the grammatical gender of their antecedent, as French il ('he') for le livre ('the book' - masculine), whereas in Spanish, el libro is also masculine, but it would not be considered correct to refer to it by using the masculine pronoun él. Instead, something such as "Where is the book?" "It is on the table", would be rendered as "¿Dónde está el libro?" "Está sobre la mesa" where the pronoun is omitted. However, when the pronoun is used as a direct object, gender-specific forms reappear in Spanish. The sentence I can't find it. (always referring to the masculine noun libro (book)) would be No lo encuentro, whereas if I can't find it refers to a magazine (revista in Spanish, which is feminine) then the sentence would be No la encuentro.
If it is absolutely necessary to provide a subject when referring to an object, a demonstrative can be used instead of a pronoun: ¿Qué es eso? translates literally What is that?. And a suitable 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.
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 could 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 ('her') and han ('him'). 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 heteronymous with several older words both in official language and dialectal speech, such as hin as in other and hinsides as in beyond all common sense. One can also use man or en or den (en means 'one'). These three are considered impersonal.
In Swedish hen was introduced in the 2010s as a replacement of 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 first proposed in 1966, and again in 1994, with reference to the Finnosh hän, a personal pronoun that is gender-neutral, since Finnish completely lacks grammatical gender. However, it did not receive widespread recognition until around 2010, when it began to be used in some texts, and provoked media debates and controversy.
It is currently treated as neologism by Swedish manuals of style. Major newspapers like Dagens Nyheter have recommended against its usage, though many 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 inflected forms henom ("her/him") and hens ("her(s)/his"). Hen has two basic usages: as a way 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.
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 un (آن).
Written Chinese has gone in the opposite direction, from non-gendered to gendered pronouns, though this hasn't 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 not only for Mandarin but also for 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 it 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 is it 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.
Written Japanese underwent a transition similar to Chinese when an archaic demonstrative kare (彼) was resurrected to translate the 'he' of European languages, while a word kanojo (彼女) was invented to translate 'she'. Unlike Western languages, pronouns in Japanese are a type of nouns rather than a distinct class.
Nevertheless, pronouns in Japanese usually have traditionally carried a strong gender connotation (though there have been gender-neutral pronouns and the gender conotation has somewhat weakened nowadays), even first-person ones. For instance, ore (俺 or オレ) or boku (僕 or ボク) is used as 'I'/'me' mainly by men (women have begun using boku nowadays), while atashi (あたし or アタシ) is used by women.
Contemporary Korean uses two different gender-specific pronouns not previously in common use. They have developed alongside the globalization of English and have become standard use in Seoul dialect. For males and neutral objects one can use geu (그) "that one". For females, geunyeo (그녀) "that woman" has come into use, though can still have a somewhat demeaning connotation (녀 being the Chinese-derived word (女) for woman). However, in place of these pronominal phrases, gender-neutral i saram (이 사람) "that person" is often heard instead.
In most Afro-Asiatic languages only the first-person pronouns (singular and plural) are gender-inclusive: second and third person pronouns are gender-specific.
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)||เขา (khao)|
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.
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 ŝli for this purpose.
- Gender marking in job titles
- Gender-neutral language
- Gender neutrality in English
- Gender-neutrality in genderless languages
- Gender-neutrality in languages with grammatical gender
- Grammatical gender
- Singular they
- Spivak pronoun
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- Miller, Casey; Swift, Kate (1995) . Mosse, Kate, ed. The Handbook of Non-Sexist Writing (3rd British ed.). London: The Women's Press. pp. 46–48. ISBN 0-7043-4442-4.
- "Alberta's Famous Five named honorary senators." The Globe and Mail, October 11, 2009.
- Dale Spender, Man Made Language, Pandora Press, 1998, p. 152.
- Strunk, William Jr.; White, E.B. (1979) . The Elements of Style (3rd ed.). Allyn and Bacon. pp. 60–61. ISBN 0-205-19158-4.
- Michael Newman (1996) Epicene pronouns: The linguistics of a prescriptive problem; Newman (1997) "What can pronouns tell us? A case study of English epicenes", Studies in language 22:2, 353–389.
- "5.4, Gender: Sexist Language and Assumptions — epicene pronouns". The American Heritage Book of English Usage. Houghton Mifflin Company. 1996. ISBN 0-395-76785-7.
- Writing about literature: essay and translation skills for university, p. 90, Judith Woolf, Routledge, 2005
- john commented on the word thon (2007-10-11). "thon - definition and meaning". Wordnik.com. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
- Baron, Dennis (1986). "10, The Word That Failed". Grammar and Gender. Yale University Press. p. 201. ISBN 0-300-03883-6.
- Baron, Dennis. "The Epicene Pronouns". Retrieved 2010-06-22.
- Kingdon, Jim. "Gender-free Pronouns in English". Retrieved 2010-06-22.
- "Skyhouse Community – Bylaws". Retrieved 2010-06-22.
- "Bylaws – Sandhill – 1982". Retrieved 2010-06-22.
- "Bylaws – East Wind – 1974". Retrieved 2010-06-22.
- "Bylaws – Twin Oaks". Retrieved 2010-06-22.
- "Visitor Guide – Twin Oaks Community: What does all this stuff mean?". Retrieved 2010-06-22.
- Capitalized E, Eir, Eirs, Em. The change from ey to E means that, in speech, the Spivak subject pronoun would often be pronounced the same as he, since the h of he is not pronounced in unstressed positions.
- Williams, John. "Technical - Declension of the Major Gender-Neutral Pronouns". Gender-Neutral Pronoun FAQ[dead link]
- Used in several college humanities texts published by Bandanna Books. Originated by editor Sasha Newborn in 1982.
- MediaMOO's "person" gender, derived from Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time (1979), in which people of 2137 use "per" as their sole third-person pronoun.
- proposed in 1884 by American lawyer Charles Crozat Converse. Reference: "Epicene". The Mavens' Word of the Day. Random House. 1998-08-12. Retrieved 2006-12-20.
- Jayce's Gender-Neutral Pronouns
- Proposed by New Zealand writer Keri Hulme some time in the 1980s. Also used by writer Greg Egan for non-gendered artificial intelligences and "asex" humans.
Egan, Greg (July 1998). Diaspora. Gollancz. ISBN 0-7528-0925-3.
Egan, Greg. Distress. ISBN 1-85799-484-1.
- A discussion about theory of Mind: a paper from 2000 that uses and defines these pronouns
- Gender-Neutral Pronoun FAQ[dead link]
Bornstein, Kate. My Gender Workbook. ISBN 0-415-91673-9.
- Creel, Richard (1997). "Ze, Zer, Mer". APA Newsletters. The American Philosophical Association. Retrieved 2006-05-15.
- Foldvary, Fred (2000). "Zhe, Zher, Zhim". The Progress Report. Economic Justice Network. Retrieved 01-05 2010.
- Fortson, Benjamin W. (2010). Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction (2nd ed.). Chichester, United Kingdom; Malden, Massachusetts: John Wiley & Sons; Blackwell Publishing. p. 407. Retrieved 12 May 2011.
- Ettner, Charles (2001). "In Chinese, men and women are equal - or - women and men are equal?". In Hellinger, Maris; Bussmann, Hadumod. Gender Across Languages: The Linguistic Representation of Women and Men 1. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 36.
- Liu, Lydia (1995). Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity--China, 1900-1937. Stanford University Press. pp. 36–38.
- Victor Mair (2013), "He / she / it / none of the above," Language Log, April 19, 2013.
- "Chinese Character Database: Phonologically Disambiguated According to the Cantonese Dialect". Chinese University of Hong Kong. 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-16. The entry for "佢" (Humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk) notes its use as a third-person pronoun in Cantonese, but the entry for "姖" (Humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk) does not; it only gives the pronunciation geoi6 and notes that it is used in place names.
- Susanne Wagner (22 July 2004). Gender in English pronouns: Myth and reality (PDF). Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg.
- Gender-Neutral Pronouns, a style guide
- Gender-free Legal Writing
- The Epicene Pronouns: A Chronology of the Word That Failed (link updated 5-31-06)
- Footnotes: pronouns
- On the Creation of "She " in Japanese
- Regender can translate webpages to use gender-neutral pronouns.
- Is there a gender-neutral substitute for "his or her"?
- Grammar Girl, Quick and Dirty tips for Better Writing / Yo as Pronoun.
- FGA: "xe", "xem", and "xyr" are sex-neutral pronouns and adjectives
- The dictionary definition of Appendix:English third-person singular pronouns at Wiktionary