She/Her Pronouns: What They Mean and When to Use Them

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She, her, and hers are gender-specific pronouns that are typically used to refer to women or girls. She/her pronouns may also be used by gender nonconforming, nonbinary, or gender expansive people.

The user of she/her/hers pronouns generally denotes that someone identifies as female or feminine without using their name. However, that isn't always the case, and sometimes people's pronouns shift. For example, a person whose gender identity is fluid may use she/her pronouns at some times but not others.

The pronouns of she and her are believed to have originated in the 12th century. Prior to that, the pronunciation of gendered pronouns was very similar, and they could be indistinguishable from one another.

Why Are Pronouns Important?

Pronoun usage may feel important or unimportant to you personally, but on the whole, they are an important matter. That's because by using someone's correct pronouns, you validate their identity, whereas by using the wrong pronouns for someone, you may invalidate it. Using incorrect pronouns for a person can feel harmful to them, and making an effort to learn a person's pronouns, rather than assuming them, ensures that you have a positive experience with someone rather than a negative one.

Pronoun usage can be especially important for people who are moving through a transition of their gender. In this situation, the usage of their correct pronoun can help them be more comfortable in their transition, whereas the use of an incorrect pronoun could lead to them feeling upset or hurt.

It has been proven that trans people who experience validation in their transition have better mental health outcomes than those who face strife and discrimination.

Multiple studies have shown that correct pronoun usage leads to feelings of one's gender being affirmed. This, in turn, leads to an improved sense of well-being.

Who Would Use She/Her Pronouns?

The pronouns she, her, and hers are mostly commonly used by women and girls. However, anyone may use she/her pronouns if they feel that those pronouns best suit their identity. People who are nonbinary, gender fluid, gender nonconforming, gender expansive, genderqueer, or other identity may also use she/her pronouns if those pronouns fit their identity best at that time.

What Does It Mean When Someone Puts She/Her in Their Bio?

If a person notes their pronouns in their bio, then those are the pronouns you should use for them. Their mention of it means that they are giving you the information needed to refer to them in the third person. While it used to be a less common practice, sharing one's pronouns has become very commonplace in recent years. There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, providing your pronouns publicly takes the guesswork out of someone having to ask you about them. It provides all the information needed to know how to refer to someone without asking them. Additionally, it helps normalize the practice for people whose pronouns may not be perceived as synonymous with their looks.

By making it a habitual part of getting to know someone, we normalize the sharing of pronouns and take the pressure off of the people who may feel awkward about sharing their own.

Social media and dating apps are two common places where pronoun use is something you can add to your bio. Doing this is considered a smart move for the reason above.

What Are the Four Gender Pronouns?

Some pronouns are gendered, and some are not. The gendered pronouns are she/her and he/him. These denote that someone identifies with the feminine or masculine side, at least at that time.

Some pronouns are not gendered. They/them can be used for anyone when you do not know their pronouns, and those pronouns are also used by people for whom they fit best. Neopronouns, which include ze/zir and ne/nir, are also not gendered.

How to Ask Someone What Their Pronouns Are

There's no need to overthink it: If you want to know someone's pronouns, just ask. The best way to do that is by saying, "What are your pronouns?" or "What pronouns do you use?"

It's best to avoid the word "preferred" when asking someone what their pronouns are. That's because our identities aren't choices. We don't choose to be cisgender or transgender any more than we choose to be Black or Latinx. By omitting this word from your question, you are displaying that you understand someone's identity as a real thing versus an idea they came up with.

What to Do If You Get Pronouns Wrong

Sometimes people's pronouns are what you expect them to be, such as when a person uses she/her pronouns and presents in a way we associate with women or standard femininity. Other times, though, someone's pronouns may differ from what you'd expect. If someone has she/her pronouns and you accidentally call them by different pronouns, you should correct your mistake.

Collaborate Consulting uses an acronym to help people learn about what to do when you accidentally use the wrong pronouns for someone.

A.C.M. Method

If you have made a mistake about someone's pronouns:

  • Apologize briefly
  • Correct your mistake
  • Move on

That's it! Nothing more is needed.

How to Learn More

Even though she/her pronouns are common to our culture and have been for a long time, we're still learning about pronoun usage, and it is an ever-evolving part of our society. For anyone wanting to understand pronoun use better, there are educational materials about them that are suited for everyone, from children to adults. "What's Your Pronoun? Beyond He and She" delves into the history of pronoun use, language, and gender and is suitable for adults and older readers. "Us: An Intro to Pronouns" is for younger readers and aims to be an inclusive read for LGBTQIA+ youth.

If you have a child who is showing signs of gender expansiveness, it's wise to check in with them about their pronouns. Here are other steps you can take to affirm your child's expansive identity.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Gender pronouns | lgbtq+ resource center [Internet]. [cited 2023 Feb 7].

  2. Restar A, Jin H, Breslow A, Reisner SL, Mimiaga M, Cahill S, et al. Legal gender marker and name change is associated with lower negative emotional response to gender-based mistreatment and improve mental health outcomes among trans populations. SSM Popul Health. 2020 May 11;11:100595.

  3. Sevelius JM, Chakravarty D, Dilworth SE, Rebchook G, Neilands TB. Gender affirmation through correct pronoun usage: development and validation of the transgender women’s importance of pronouns (Tw-ip) scale. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Dec;17(24):9525.

By Ariane Resnick, CNC
Ariane Resnick, CNC is a mental health writer, certified nutritionist, and wellness author who advocates for accessibility and inclusivity.