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ThirteenOnline

They/Them/Theirs can be used as a gender neutral pronoun in English.


cutiehot

so its alright if i just say They/Them/Theirs instead of all other things? cuz my first language is gender neutral and it is so fucking hard to call people with different pronouns bc of that lol


thegreatdonaldo

You especially can use those pronouns if English is not your first language. There are examples of they/them/their being used this way throughout the history of Modern English. You are probably OK as long as you aren’t intentionally calling somebody by the wrong pronoun or one they’ve told you they don’t want to use. As others have said, a speaker might use they/them to hide the gender of the subject. This would be pretty obvious; I’m assuming something like this is what prompted you to post because it stood out to you.


fraiserfir

It depends on who you’re talking to. If you know what someone’s pronouns are, default to what they use. Some people enjoy/don’t mind they/them but most people will use exclusively she or he. They/them is also not very common for one person outside of LGBT spaces, so know your audience and be safe if people thinking you’re queer might get you hurt.


[deleted]

I'd argue you can use they/them for people who identify as he/him or she/her anyway. After all the pronoun refers to anybody, not just non-binary people.


Lmaoboat

Personally, I'm pretty far outside LGBT circles, but I most of the time I wouldn't even notice if someone used the singular "they." I think the "strangeness" is greatly overstated and is probably just one of those relics of stuffy old English teachers making up rules.


Meggers26

It’s not natural to many English speakers to use the singular they/them when referring to a specific person of a known gender. People get confused and think you are referring to multiple people. In gender-inclusive circles it’s normal but outside of those circles the singular they is not as widely used in that context.


majestic_failure

They became a gender neutral pronoun in the past 10 years to accommodate the rise of nonbinary people. The rules are still developing, so it's not a perfect system. You wouldn't want to mix they and it up (calling a person it is super rude and dehumanizing), but if you just want to avoid he/she, they works fine most of the time. Even if a little awkwardly.


[deleted]

Some people might find it strange, but there is nothing wrong with calling everyone they/them regardless of gender.


Meggers26

I would try to practice properly using he/she and his/hers in writing and practicing in your head. Using the singular they when you are talking about a specific person of a known gender is not common. It’s especially confusing for older people who aren’t as in touch with modern gender ideas and how the singular they is used for non-binary people. It’s an important skill to master in English. That being said, if you keep mixing up he/she and his/hers, I’d default to the singular they/them/theirs until you get better at it. The singular they is commonly used to describe a type of person or a single person of unknown gender, so it’s not totally unfamiliar. So it might be somewhat but not totally confusing to use the singular they when referring to a known person of a known gender. It can be extremely confusing, however, to use incorrectly gendered pronouns. If you use he and then hers in the same sentence to refer to the same person, the listener would think you are talking about two different people and it can change the entire meaning of the sentence. It can also be more insulting to use the wrong gendered pronoun instead of the gender-neutral they.


ThirteenOnline

So you can use they/them/theirs but it can feel distant or cold, and Americans especially but I suspect the whole English speaking culture, try to make others feel warm and welcome. So it’s common that people want you to use their preferred pronouns which might be he/she her/him. Not because it’s grammatically “wrong” but culturally. And so you should respect that.


king-of-new_york

It's not cold at all! It's the preferred way to refer to many thousands of people.


ThirteenOnline

Yes people who's prefered pronoun is they/them but if their prefered pronoun is he/him or she/her and you use they/them when referring to them. It's not grammatically incorrect but it can feel more distant.


peteroh9

But not for hundreds of millions of people.


king-of-new_york

So don't use it for them. There are many many people, myself included who use they/them pronouns.


peteroh9

That doesn't mean that it doesn't feel distant or cold for hundreds of millions of people.


king-of-new_york

Singular use they had been a thing since Shakespeare. If you have an issue with that, that's you're problem.


peteroh9

That's completely irrelevant to what I was saying and I have no problem with singular *they*. Singular *they* is (generally) used when you don't know if *he* or *she* is appropriate. When you know the answer, but still say "they," it's seen as distant or cold. Would you consider it cold if someone referred to you as *he* when they know you prefer *they*?


king-of-new_york

I would consider *that* transphobia. It's alright to not like using they pronouns but it's not cold or distant.


cara27hhh

Because for any number of reasons, they don't want to reveal the gender of the person they are talking about


castle-girl

I would use they for one of three reasons. 1. I don’t know the gender of the person. 2. The person wants me to use they/them. 3. I’m talking about a person and want to make it harder for people to guess who that person is, so I use they/them to avoid giving any information to help narrow it down.


handwritten_emojis

I agree, but I would add 4. Their gender isn’t relevant to the story. In some cases even though I know the person’s gender, if I refer to them as their role (the doctor, the cashier) I’ll just use gender neutral since their gender isn’t overly relevant


TheKFakt0r

No particular reason, most of the time


Green_3100

\- (usually online for me) because sometimes I don't know the person that well or haven't ever talked directly to them, and have found about their gender from a third party. \- (again online) when I didn't know someone's identity earlier, but now do-- it's just easier/more comfortable to continue using they/them, sudden transition can be a little awkward. these are two reasons why I use they/them despite being aware of their gender, probably it's the same for a few others but definitely not all


_Lisichka_

Sometimes when I tell a story about something, the gender of the people involved is irrelevant information, so I choose to not specify it. Sometimes specifying the gender can lead to unnecessary questions instead of people focusing on what you're talking about. I can also use it if I don't know enough about the person's gender.


sunrisegular

Agree. Sometimes the gender isn't relevant to the story. If I am making a general point, I don't feel a need to include it -- especially online, where people can be very reactive with gender-based stereotypes in a way incongruent with real life.


megustanlosidiomas

Someone people identify and specifically go by the pronouns "they/them."


cutiehot

yeah, i know that thing. but they do it even if the person they're talking about identifies as a man or woman. ill find an example...


Rolls_

It's perfectly natural to refer to people as "they," even before gender identity became a bigger thing. "I was talking with the cashier and they said I can't get a refund." If you state the person's name, it sounds weird to me to use "they." For example, "Jane called me and they said they can't make it (to the party)." Other people may have different opinions though.


cutiehot

>If you state the person's name, it sounds weird to me to use "they." [check out my comment.](https://www.reddit.com/r/EnglishLearning/comments/vppl7q/why_people_use_theythemthemselves_when_their/ielgpy7?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share)


cutiehot

i found one. [read the first paragraph](https://www.reddit.com/r/detrans/comments/vbdoun/matt_walshes_documentary_does_it_fairly_represent/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share) matt walsh is a conservative anti-trans and he says biological males are men and biological females are women. so what's the point of using "they" for him?


megustanlosidiomas

I don't know. The user uses "himself" later in the post, so maybe it's just a mistake.


Jamesbarros

Yes. All politics aside it’s just simpler and more consistent. I do it almost exclusively.


Thunderbolt1011

Being vague for added mystery. Or just being casual lol


RogueMoonbow

My partner and freind started going by they/them at the same time. I started calling everyone they/them even if they went by other pronouns. When you're used to being around nonbinary people it becomes more automatic. Could be why you see that.


[deleted]

Do you think that could be disrespectful to people though? Non binary people often feel disrespected when people don’t refer to them as they/ them. Don’t you think a male to female trans would feel disrespected if you refused to use she and used they instead? Or denouncing anyone’s gender who prefers he or she? I’m not easily offended, but if someone kept referring to me directly as they/ them, I would correct them.


RogueMoonbow

If I refused to, yes. If I repeatedly did despite knowing they were uncomfortable with it. Most of the time if it's a learned pronoun, as in they went by one pronoun and I had to learn a new one, that autofill-of they/them doesn't happen, and most of the time I catch myself saying they/them and switch it to their preferred. In general I think that most trans/nb people would appreciate someone's automatic and assumed pronoun for people as they/them rather than assuming based on presentation. I spoke more generally here because it applied to OP's question. But this habit doesn't make me misgender anyone-- if I do accidentally use they/them for someone who doesn't use it, it's for my sister or a freind, both who are queer and don't care if they/them gets used. If I'm talking about, say, my dad, I'd correct myself immediately or catch it before it came out-z he's not queer in any way, and they/them would be confusing. If someone tells me explicitly "hey my pronouns are he/him" I'll use he/him. Yeah, using they/them when someone specifically asks you to use a different set is not great, but personally I think your brain getting trained to use they/them until told otherwise is more inclusive of trans people. I don't know a single trans person that would be offended by you using they/them *before* they've told you their pronouns. Of course I'm going to use their preferred pronouns as best I can.


[deleted]

Yeah I think being respectful is always the key to anything. I just know some people who are trans (male to female and vice versa) and I think the way they feel is very differently than people who are non gender conforming. It could be hurtful to a person who’s clearly trying to pass as female as a they.


[deleted]

some people aren't comfortable with he or she, so they use "they" instead


askmekaigainiki

It's interesting that something similar happened to "you". "You" is grammatically plural that's why we say "you ARE".


South-Marionberry

Well, it often sounds more formal, and it gives the subject some anonymity (if the person doesn’t want their gender disclosed in an embarrassing story, because it may be an identifying characteristic of them), or just because they want to :D Hope that helps!


Informal-Amphibian-4

We're lazy and/or like to keep it varied


kingcrabmeat

You can use they them for people, anyone!


friendly_extrovert

There’s two main reasons: 1. It’s an informal way of referring to people, especially in modern English. 2. It’s a gender neutral way of referring to people. If you don’t know someone’s preferred pronouns or don’t want to use gendered pronouns, they/them can be a great choice.


Shahid-e-gomnam

To Respect them!!