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Revised Poll - Pronoun Usage in D&D

How should pronouns be handled in RPG manuals?

  • Use masculine pronouns generically.

    Votes: 17 43.6%
  • Both masculine and feminine pronouns together ('he or she', 'his or her', 'him or her').

    Votes: 2 5.1%
  • Alternating masculine and feminine pronouns (Please explain how they should alternate.)

    Votes: 17 43.6%
  • Use 'they as a generic pronoun

    Votes: 3 7.7%
  • Avoid the use of pronouns altogether.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Something else (please explain below).

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters


First Post
Last month I started a thread about the ways that pronouns are handled in RPG manuals. As I mentioned, I am doing an investigation on pronoun usage in D&D for my graduate sociolinguistics class and am curious about what gamers on these forums think. When I created the original poll, I forgot to add the option of both masculine and feminine pronouns (i.e. 'he or she'). Therefore, I would like to redo the poll with this option. If you did the original poll, please take a minute to take this poll. Again, please feel free to leave your thoughts on the matter. (Let's be careful not to start a flame war.)
Last edited:

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Alternating, no particular order, no particular assignment to classes or races. Not every other one, but consistent within the particular syntax, ie: if you start referring to a class or character or race as "he", keep it consistent, don't switch back and forth.


I opted for alternating, but really, periodic and occasional use of his or her (rarely) and the generic are fine also provided the whole text isn't littered with them. Otherwise, liberally distribute the assigned gender in examples and whatnot without regard to GM/Player, race/species, or class, or any other thing - so long as the gendered pronoun remains consistent within one set of examples of course. (So if, in a given paragraph, you're referring to the GM as female, you don't randomly revise that within that example.)


First Post
I voted for use of both together, but as a secondary I would say that using iconic characters as specific examples would be just as good.

Jan van Leyden

Alternating sound good to me. You could use it to distinguish between persons in a given context, like "he" for the GM, "she" for a player in examples.

Alternating, with the use of iconic characters and with the examples following those characters. See either the D&D 3e or Pathfinder core rulebooks for an example of how this is done.


First Post
I am glad to see that I am not the only one struggling with this issue. I've found that alternating in different sections to be the fairest approach. The approach can get laborious fairly quickly, and can be troublesome to edit properly, but it is the most inclusive.


< insert two posts from the first poll on this topic and a few more from the one about language annoyances about why "singular they" is more elegant, has historic precedent, and seems to be the way the language is evolving (as languages are wont to do) >


First Post
I like the use of "they" as a neutral, but another solution that should work for everyone is for each author to use their own gender (i.e. male authors use "he" and "him", female authors use "she" and "her")


I like the idea of using the authors gender. To be politically correct for politically correct's sake is annoying. If you are a female and want to write an RPG and use the word "she" go right ahead. If you are a guy who only wants to use the word "HE" go right ahead. If you don't like what the other person is doing (ie a female complaining about the fact that the male is using the word he) simply write your own book. Problem solved.