Pronouns are words that refer to a person as something other than their name. Neopronouns are a category of new (neo) pronouns used to refer to a person. They are being used over other pronouns like “she,” “he,” or “they.”
They are any set of singular third-person pronouns not officially recognized in their language. Generally, they are used to be a gender-neutral pronoun set. Some people use “they/them” as gender-neutral pronouns, although some tend to steer away from this convention. They prefer neopronouns as an alternative gender-neutral pronoun. It can also be used to avoid confusion that sometimes occurs with using the singular “they.”
Neopronouns can express something unique about a person’s gender, like xenogender (an umbrella term for gender non-conforming identities that cannot be described through concepts surrounding gender such as masculinity, femininity, androgyny, neutrality, and more). It can also be more comfortable for someone to use a neopronoun over a standard pronoun set.
What Are Some Examples of Neopronouns?
A few examples of neopronouns include: ze/hir/hirs, xe/xem/xyr, and ey/em/eir. There are many more, and you can find a longer list at LGBTA Wiki.
A person who uses “ze” pronouns is referred to by using “ze” and its associated pronouns (in the third person). This means that they will generally go by “ze/hir” pronouns,” ze/zir” pronouns, and other variations.
Anyone can use neopronouns to describe their gender. Even though many people think that neopronouns are gender-neutral, people who use them could identify by any gender. Often, though, they are used by gender non-conforming folks or transgender people.
How to Use Neopronouns in a Sentence
When a person uses neopronouns, it means that you can refer to them by using the pronoun neopronoun instead of their name.
If Billie goes by “ze”:
“Billie went to the lake, and Ze rented a kayak.”
If Billie goes by Ze/hir/hirs:
“Ze is a blogger and wrote that article hirself. Those ideas ze came up with are hirs, and I love hir writing.
If Billie goes by Ze/zir/zirs:
“Ze is a blogger and wrote that article zirself. Those ideas ze came up with are zirs, and I love zir writing.
“Ze” is generally pronounced with a long “e” and “hir” and its forms are usually pronounced like the word “here.”
Instead of ze/hir pronouns, many people go by “ze/zir” pronouns due to the more consistent spelling and pronunciation.
If Billie goes by xe/xem/xyr:
“Xe is late for band practice, be sure to tell xem that not to forget xyr guitar.
These neopronouns are pronounced as zee, zeem, zeers, zeerself.
If Billie goes by ey/em/eir:
Ey is a musician; I saw em play yesterday with eir band.
These neopronouns are pronounced as eye as “ay,” em as “em,” and eir as “air.”
Other Things to Note
It is also essential to know that some people go by multiple sets of pronouns or by specific sets of pronouns. If you aren’t sure how someone uses neopronouns, it’s always good practice to ask the person.