How to Share Your Preferred Pronouns: Tips for Every Situation

You deserve to be called by the pronouns that fit you, and we have tips to help you communicate with family, friends, work, and more.

Published May 15, 2024
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Your pronouns are a really important part of your identity, and sharing them is a big deal when you interact with people socially or at work. The thing is, it's not always easy to know when and how to share your preferred pronouns. It all depends on the situation and your own preferences, but we've got some tips to help you navigate this social situation with zero awkwardness — whether you go by "he," "she," "they," or something else.

Common Pronoun Examples You Might Use

Using the correct pronoun when we talk about someone is a priority for most people, and it's part of being an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community. Still, it gets a little confusing for some people who are used to the basics of just "he" and "she." It can help to have a list of the commonly preferred pronouns when you're explaining your choices to friends, family, new acquaintances, and coworkers.

Need to Know

Your preferred pronoun, meaning the word people use when they're talking about you and not using your name, can send a signal about your gender identity. People used to just refer to someone by the pronoun that matched their appearance, but today, things are different, and a person might go by "she," "they," "he," or another pronoun that has nothing to do with what they look like.

These are some of the most common pronouns, but there are actually many options.

"____ smiled" "Talk to ____" "It's ____ bag." "The bag is ____" "____ hurt ____."
they them their theirs they/themself
he him his his he/himself
she her her hers she/herself
ze zir zir zirs ze/zirself
xie hir hir hirs xie/hirself

How to Share Your Preferred Pronouns When Meeting Someone New

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If you're introducing yourself to someone new, sharing your pronouns is actually a kindness to the other person. They may not be sure what you use and may even be hesitant to ask. You can casually clear things up right away and make it easier for the new person to interact with you. That first meeting is a really easy time to politely let them know how you would like to be addressed.

  • I'm Juniper, and my pronouns are "they/them" or "he/him."
  • I'm Jessie, and I use "ze/zir."
  • Hi! My name is Ella, and I use "she/her."
Need to Know

Although many people use the term "preferred pronoun," it's important to keep in mind that gender identity isn't a preference; it's who someone is. If you don't like saying "preferred pronouns," you can also say "I use," "I go by," or "you can call me."

Ways to Introduce Your Gender Pronouns to Family

It's one thing to tell new people your pronouns, but it's another when you're talking to people you've known your whole life. Family members may not be using your correct pronouns for a number of reasons, but it's a common mistake if your assigned gender at birth does not match your gender identity. These people may have known you as one gender for years, so it's important to be clear and helpful when telling them the pronouns you want them to use.

  • Grandma, I know you've always said "he" when you talked about me, but my preferred pronoun is "she." I totally get that switching will be hard, but it's really important to me.
  • I use the pronouns "they/them" now, Dad.
  • I understand why everyone has always said "she" when they talked about me, but I just need to let you all know I use the pronouns "ze/zir."

Related: 54 Empowering LGBTQIA+ Quotes to Celebrate Pride

How to Tell Friends Your Preferred Gender Pronouns

Friends are often really receptive to changes in pronouns. They may know your gender identity before anyone else, and even if they don't, good friends will probably be very supportive of your pronoun choice. There are lots of ways to share your pronouns, but we like keeping it friendly and open.

  • I've been thinking a lot about gender identity lately, and I have decided my pronouns are "they/them."
  • Hey, I know everyone has been calling me "she/her" for a long time now, but I've decided "xie/hir" is right for me.
  • When we're chatting from now on, I just want everyone to know that my pronouns are "ze/zir."

How to Share Your Preferred Pronouns at Work

Whether you're just starting a new job or have been working someplace for years, it's important that the people you work with understand how they should refer to you. Keep your communication clear and professional with a simple statement about your pronouns.

  • I know we've worked together for a long time, and I've always used the pronouns "he/him." I'm now asking everyone to refer to me as "they/them" in communications.
  • I go by "she/her" or "ze/zir" personally and professionally.
  • Thank you in advance for using my preferred pronouns of "they/them."

Ways to Correct Someone Who Uses the Wrong Pronouns for You

Sometimes, people will use the wrong pronoun, even after you've told them what you want them to use. This is often an unintentional slip-up, so a polite reminder is the best way to help them understand. Here are some ways to correct someone about your preferred pronouns:

  • Thanks for mentioning that. It's important to me that people use "he/him" pronouns when talking about me, though.
  • Just a reminder that I prefer "they/them."
  • I know it's hard to remember, but I prefer "she/her."

Be Clear and Kind When Communicating About Pronouns

Everyone deserves to be called by their preferred pronouns, and it's important to advocate for yourself when you're interacting with other people. If you're clear and kind when you talk about this, it will be a positive and effective conversation for everyone.

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How to Share Your Preferred Pronouns: Tips for Every Situation