When people talking about their gender pronouns, why do people use all 3 components?

For example, I identify myself as a male, so I understand the use of "HE", but why people use "HE/HIM/HIS"? Is it possible to have your gender pronoun as "HE/HER/THEM"?

(FYI, I'm not a native English speaker but fluent)

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    For potential answerers, all the current answers talk about the reason for specifying any kind of gender pronoun at all, but that' snot what the OP is asking for. They are asking about why the three one for nominative, one for accusative, and one for possessive.
    – Mitch
    Feb 2, 2020 at 16:17
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    There are not "three forms" to a personal pronoun; there are five. For example: I, me, my, mine, myself or they, them, their, theirs, themself.
    – tchrist
    Feb 3, 2020 at 4:16
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    Reading the answers below, I've decided to buzz in for deviation from the English language as we know it.
    – Steve
    Apr 14, 2021 at 6:42
  • @Mitch - is the second one accusative or dative? (Serious question: I wanted to know what the three cases/declinations/whatever were for "identity pronouns" and it is surprisingly hard (for me) to query the interwebs for this - so I came here and found this question with your comment. IMO only your comment is truly the answer. But this page here uses "dative" for what seems to be the second (middle) one - where you said accusative.)
    – davidbak
    Aug 23, 2022 at 23:03
  • @davidbak The second is called 'accusative'. The answer at that link is not how people usually say it (linguists, English teachers). 'Dative' is just not used to describe English. For direct and indirect object, for personal pronouns, the forms me, him, her, us, them are called accusative. By the way, my comment contains no answer at all, just suggests that answers should address the 'why three parts?' rather than 'why at all?'.
    – Mitch
    Aug 24, 2022 at 0:01

5 Answers 5


People who have gender identities that conform to their biological sex (oft referred to as "cisgendered") can show solidarity with the trans community by offering our own pronouns whenever appropriate, thereby helping to normalize the practice. If all trans people used "he," "she," or "they," simply giving a nomative pronoun would allow the listener to extrapolate all other pronouns. However, some trans people prefer to use Neopronouns, which don't always declinate in a intuitive way, such as e/em/es or thon/thon/thons. Neopronoun users give their nomative, accusitive and predicative possessive pronouns out of necessity, so those of us using standard pronouns follow suit.

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    Verbs conjugate; pronouns decline. And this is an excellent point.
    – Aaron K
    Feb 2, 2020 at 12:52

There are now a number of additional pronouns, mostly used by people who identify as non-binary (neither 100% male, nor 100% female, or a third gender). Most people are not familiar with them, so don't know how to use them when only one is presented. If one pronoun is "xe" or "chis", what are the others? Can you work out the rules without being told?

The generally accepted pronouns are not regular, in fact they're highly irregular so they have to be memorised. Most people have not had enough exposure to these additional pronouns to have memorised them and be familiar with them.

This is why two, three, or even the full set of five pronouns will be mentioned.

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    +1. Of course, that assumes your audience knows that there are five forms, and how to use them.
    – GEdgar
    Feb 2, 2020 at 19:09

Not all people want others to use the standard pronouns, whether masculine feminine or plural. Other possible pronouns exist such as ze, hir, zirs etc. Many people are unfamiliar with the usage of those and what the object and possessive forms are, so it makes sense to specify all of the ones you want to be called by in each circumstance.


Isn't it patently obvious that it would not be she/him/they? Or could it? Seems like one pronoun would be sufficient to get the message across. I have only seen she/hers/her. Haven't seen any men (is that ok to say?) doing it.

  • I have seen all of: he/him. he/him/his. he/they. they/he. (But yes, it is less common to see cis males specifying their pronouns, as "he/him" is already the assumed default for many people.)
    – arp
    Aug 7 at 20:53

There are badges and T-shirts on sale, each displaying the 3 forms of a pronoun, e.g. "she/her/hers". So that sort of set of 3 forms is what people display (those people who do that sort of thing), so that's what people see, so with positive feedback that's what's become popular.

Why those badges/T-shirts are made like that, I don't know -- that's a different question. It could be argued that another form, the -self form, should be included (e.g. himself, herself, xyrself). Then again, it could be argued that not only is that -self form needless, so is the -s form (e.g. hers).

  • Remember that there are not "three forms" to a personal pronoun; there are five. For example: I, me, my, mine, myself or they, them, their, theirs, themself.
    – tchrist
    Feb 3, 2020 at 4:17
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    @tchrist I know. That's why I didn't say how many there are in total. The three forms I mentioned are the three the OP mentioned.
    – Rosie F
    Feb 3, 2020 at 6:32

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