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Gender-neutral pronoun

In non-sexist language, gender-neutral or epicene pronouns neither reveal nor imply sex or gender when referring to people, animals or things.

In English, the only gender-specific pronouns are the third-person singular: he, him, himself, his, she, her, herself, and hers. The third-person plural pronouns they, them, themselves, their, and theirs work equally well for either sex, as do the others, such as I, thou, we, you, and so on.

For those people seeking a gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun, this is a problem. Common solutions include singular they, the generic male, he or she, using he and she in alternate passages, and rewording sentences [1].

The following sets of neologisms have articles in wikipedia, though they are all very rare and most commentators do not believe any of them will ever become widespread:

The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis can be interpreted to predict that people will be less sexist if they don't distinguish between genders in pronouns and other aspects of speech.

Table of contents
1 Example
2 Modern Chinese
3 Japanese
4 External links


Co is one example of a proposed third person, singular, gender-neutral pronoun. The subject and object form are the same, and the possessive pronoun is cos.

Modern Chinese

The pronoun 他 (ta) means "he" and "she". So gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun should not be a problem in Chinese. However, at the time around May Fourth Movement, a new pronoun 她 (ta) has been invented to represent "she" and 他 is now often used as "he" only. It is called "modernisation" (after European languages). Sometimes 他/她 is used to mean "he/she", opponents view this usage as unnecessarily cumbersome.


Japanese underwent a transition similar to Chinese in which the gender neutral third person referent "kare" became associated with he, while the word "kanojo" was invented to represent she in translated Western novels. Today, "kare" is exclusively masculine. The words can also imply boyfriend or girlfriend, respectively.

External links