5 tips and tricks for getting pronouns right
Just the thing to send to your family before the holidays!
Ask & Offer - Always Use Pronouns During Introductions
When first meeting someone new, introduce yourself with your name and pronouns, and ask what pronouns the other person uses. If it feels awkward to lead with pronouns, sneak it into conversation later. “Oh, by the way, what pronouns do you prefer? I use ‘she and her.’“ Make it a habit!
Practice - Take Time to Learn in Private
If you’re struggling with a specific person‘s pronouns, take the time to practice when you’re alone. Practice saying out loud, “His name is Kelly and he is my friend. He likes riding his bike.” Keep practicing until it comes naturally. You can also add people’s pronouns to their contact in your phone so that you are reminded when you communicate!
Slow Down - Speak Slowly to Give Yourself Time
When you’re rushed or distracted it’s common to talk more quickly, and that makes it easier to slip up and use the wrong pronoun. Remember, getting pronouns right is more important than getting your words out fast. Messing up pronouns is a sure fire way to distract someone from what you’re saying anyway, so take the time to get it right.
Don’t Guess - Resist the Urge to Use “They” for Everyone
If you don’t know someone’s pronouns, just use their name. It may sound awkward, but “they” is a pronoun that non-binary people choose and is not just a catch all pronoun. Just ask the person you’re referring to or ask a close friend. Asking someone’s pronouns shows genuine interest in knowing who they are!
Question Gender - Learn to See Gender as Nuanced
Like people watching? This one’s for you! When you see strangers on the street, (privately!) notice what assumptions you make a
bout them. What assumptions have people made about you based on your gender? Traditional gender roles — how people are expected by society to act based on the gender assigned to them at birth — are a social construct, not a biological one. There's no denying that gender identity is an important part of everyone's life and no one wants to be stereotyped. Practicing gender imaginatively the more nuance you see in gender, the easier it will be to get pronouns right.