Pronouns. Everybody has them, and they are becoming a much more prominent point of conversation these days.
With preferred pronouns coming into the limelight over the past several years, many people need clarity about what it means when you see something like “she/her” in an Instagram bio or email signature.
Today, we’re going to break down the meaning of she/her. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a solid understanding of what it means, how to use it, and the history behind it.
Let’s get started.
What Is the Definition of She/Her?
You already know the meanings of the words “she” and “her” on their own.
They’re a set of gendered pronouns that are essential to the English language. In English, there are three sets of pronouns: masculine, feminine, and gender-neutral.
However, when you combine these pronouns, tying them together with a forward slash, they take on a new meaning that carries a lot more with it than just the simple meaning of a pronoun.
Here’s a definition of the phrase she/her:
- A set of feminine pronouns used by a specific person to indicate that they prefer to be referred to by the pronouns “she” and “her” as opposed to other pronouns
The qualifier “she/her” is often used when a person is introducing herself. It could also be placed in a bio on social media or on an email signature. It’s a helpful, quick, and easy way to convey a person’s gender to new people. This use is specifically meant to prevent misgendering — when somebody is mistaken about a person’s gender.
The practice of adding pronouns like she/her/hers to conversations and introductions is meant as a challenge to social norms.
Up until recent history, it has been common practice to assume a person’s gender based on their physical appearance. Introducing yourself with your preferred pronouns takes this assumption out of the equation.
This change is particularly important because of the growing population of transgender people in the world. Gender identity is becoming an increasingly important topic, and a common problem that transgender people face is being misgendered. Integrating this practice is helpful for transgender people, non-binary people, gender-fluid people, and other members of the LGBTQ community.
Where Did She/Her Come From?
The history of the words “she” and “her” dates back centuries. It is estimated that these words first took their English form all the way back in the 12th century. We have been using this group of feminine pronouns since even before modern English was around!
However, the coupling of pronouns with a slash symbol (/) did not begin until the 21st century. As transgender rights became a big deal, and as more people became concerned with being identified properly and identifying other people properly, people began using this practice.
What Are Some Examples of She/Her in a Sentence?
To bring further clarity to the meaning of “she/her,” here are some example sentences that use it.
- My name is Taylor, and I go by she/her.
- I really appreciate how more and more people are putting she/her and other pronouns on their social media profiles.
- TTFN, Marley (she/her)
- Geri McMann, Albuquerque, NM, she/her
- This is my friend Max, and her personal pronouns are she/her.
More About Pronouns
Gender expression can be an incredibly difficult topic to navigate. For people who are used to assuming gender identity based on physical appearance, adopting the process of using different pronouns can be difficult, and mistakes are often made.
To some people, pronouns might not seem like a very big deal. However, for many genderqueer or gender non-conforming folx, pronouns are incredibly significant. If you are repeatedly called the wrong gender, it can really wear you.
When somebody considers a specific gender to be their identity, it’s important that we respect that and refer to them how they want to be referred to, whether their pronouns are she/her, he/him, they/them, hir/hirs, or some other set of pronouns.
This practice is even important for cisgender people to take on. Even if you have never been mispronounced, introducing yourself with your pronouns is a great thing to do. It will contribute to making it a more common practice and, overall, help everyone to use the correct pronouns for each person and helps to include the queer community in the way we conduct ourselves.
What Are Other Pronoun Options?
There are several different pronoun options out there. Most people will use the gender binary pronouns: he/him and she/her. These gender-specific pronouns refer to men and women, respectively.
However, many people prefer to use gender-neutral pronouns for themselves. The most common among these are they/them pronouns. For years, these pronouns have been used in the third person to refer to groups of people, but these pronouns can also be used to refer to singular individuals. In fact, in 2019, Merriam-Webster’s word of the year was “they” as a singular pronoun.
But there are a variety of other gender-neutral pronouns out there as well, such as zie/zim/zir, ve/ver, tey/ter, e/em, and xe/xer. Although they are less common, it’s still important to be familiar with them, so you don’t use the wrong pronoun for somebody who prefers these to other options.
She/her and other sets of pronouns are incredibly important, and introducing yourself with them is becoming a much more common practice in culture. And now you know the meaning of she/her and how to use these pronouns in your conversation and your writing.
If you need a refresher on she/her and its meaning, just come back to this article for the information you need.
Merriam-Webster Singles Out Nonbinary ‘They’ For Word Of The Year Honors | NPR
Pronouns – LGBTQ Center | Binghamton University