Personal agential gender

From Teflpedia

Personal agential gender is a gender system in English, one of the two gender systems, the other being the natural sex gender system. In this system, people, some animals and some miscellaneous things possess personal agency - basically the ability to make behavioural choices - so use one set of pronouns (I, you, he, she, we, they) and other things non-agency and so use another set of pronouns (it, they).

All first person (I, we) and second person (you) pronouns are agential; it is only the third person pronouns that are split into agential (he, she, they) and non-agential pronouns (it, they). Note that the pronoun they can be used agentially or non-agentially.

Both non-agential pronouns (it, they) are neuter in the natural sex gender system.

The agential pronouns "I", "you" and "they" are common, so may refer to either masculine or feminine, but he is the third person masculine pronoun and she is the third person feminine pronoun. They can be used in either in a singular or plural sense; see singular they, common he, and he/she.

Assigning agency can sometimes be somewhat arbitrary or based on personal choice. Should a particularly animal be referred to as he, she or it? Should a ship be referred to as she or it?

Because some people do not identify as being binarily masculine or feminine, some feminists have proposed language reform in this area.