Pronouns 1: The Basics

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First lets focus on the double duty pronouns: it and they. Both are singular and plural based on context.

What’s the difference?
It is used for non living things.
They is used for living things.

The band playing “Long Live the Queen” is impressive.
They are impressive. [They refers to the living item in the sentence. (the band)]
It is an impressive rendition of the song. [It refers to the non living part. (the song)]

This means pronouns can be connected to certain people, places and things. It allows us to focus in on different pieces of the sentence and situation.

If I said: George is a cute little boy. Candice is his baby sister. His would refer to George. For one, the statement wouldn’t make sense if Candice was being referenced by the pronoun. She cannot be her own sister. And since she is a sister, her pronoun would be assume she.

If there is a question, normally (properly), the last possible option for the pronoun would be the correct noun being replaced. [This is why rereading Unwanted annoyed me. The pronouns got wacky a few times.]

For each species/character you should have a list of desired and acceptable pronouns for use. Then a collection of do not use: ie ones the character would fight over. It’s a helpful item to add to your character profile.

There are many pronouns. And you can create a new set of pronouns for your species or characters. Nothing is wrong with that. Just treat it with the same care as the rest of the pronoun rules.

Pronouns can be hard to understand at times. If two characters use the same pronouns, it may be hard to say who is who. In those times use the names of the characters more. Don’t just switch it out with a description. Occasionally adding in a descriptor instead of a name or pronoun is okay. Doing so often will turn off readers.

If you have any questions, please ask. I will be posting another pronouns post next week about the annoying grammar rules.

What is your pronoun?
What is your favorite pronoun?
What pronoun would you fight if someone used it for you?


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[Writer’s Stuff] [About Cat Hartliebe]

2 thoughts on “Pronouns 1: The Basics”

  1. Yeah I’ve always hated it when it’s hard to distinguish who is who in a book.
    My pronoun is she/her — or at least that’s what I preferred to be called
    My favorite pronoun is ‘it’ just because it’s so ambiguous — I mean, is it a boy? is it a girl? lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed.

      ‘It’ doesn’t get enough consideration by people. It can replace everything.
      Although when referring to humans – unless told otherwise – ‘it’ normally offers a objectifying or condescending view. I try to be wary when my characters use it to refer to someone. Gotta double check if it reads negatively.

      Liked by 1 person

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