English pronouns are only gender-specific in the third person singular. When a person's gender is binary, use she
) for female gender and he
for male gender.
When someone’s gender is non-binary, use that person’s self-identified pronouns, meaning the pronouns with which the person wants to be referred. In English, some people self-identify with the pronouns they
), while others use sets of pronouns that have been introduced into the language to make it more gender-inclusive, like ze
), or like hen
). In the example below, the writer respects two people’s use of self-identified pronouns.
|My colleague James Rollins will be waiting for you in the main terminal when you clear customs; James is tall with a beard and they will be carrying a sign with your name on it, so it should be easy to recognize them.
|Dr Sara Shields explains why ze believes hir formula would help hir and other scientists to simplify the procedure in an article published last week in a leading journal.
When the person’s gender is not known or not relevant, as is usually the case for institutional texts at the UB, use they
|Only one student submitted their assignment on time.
|Before 15 October, each tutor must speak to the students that they have been assigned.
Alternatively, rephrase the sentence so that the pronoun is unnecessary or pluralize the subject.
|Only one student submitted the assignment on time.
|Before 15 October, all tutors must speak to the students that they have been assigned.