85 – Pronouns in Writing

The Mythcreant Podcast

Pronouns. Who’d have guessed these little placeholders would have such power over us. To be a writer, one must fully understand pronouns and how to use them, not to mention how important they are. This week, the hosts dig into the topics of singular they, how to differentiate multiple people with the same pronouns, and why language doesn’t care what you think. Chris talks of her difficulty using pronouns for a living tree. Oren recommends using first person to give yourself an entirely new pronoun. Special guest host Dash recommends bloody revolution against the tyranny of pronouns everywhere.

Download Episode 85 Subscription Feed

Have a question or comment for our hosts? Send it to [email protected]

Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton. Used with permission.

Show Notes:

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch Book 1) by Ann Leckie

P.S. Our bills are paid by our wonderful patrons. Could you chip in?

Read more about



  1. Quinte

    I think you uploaded the wrong episode onto iTunes. Love the podcasts by the way I think they can be insightful

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      Hmm, if you don’t mind, could you tell me what episode you’re getting from iTunes? It has the right episode when I test it but if there’s a problem I’d like to figure it out.

      • Quinte

        Got the 2 second clip saying “I am not a prescriptivist”. I might be wrong but that doesn’t seem intentional.

        • Oren Ashkenazi

          Thanks for bringing that to our attention. If you have time, let us know if it keeps being a problem. ITunes hasn’t done it to any of us, but iTunes is tricky!

  2. Inner Prop

    I don’t like singular, “They” because you are removing information from the language by using a word that has a specific meaning. I have established in my blog that I would be using “Ze” for this, and I plan on writing all my short stories using this pronoun.

    I also prefer, “Ya’ll” because the double use of, “You” is aggravating. Unfortunately in the Chicago area it is a very clear indicator you are from somewhere else.

    Anyway, I’m on a crusade (ya’ll and ze) and it is motivating me to become even more successful so that everybody will naturally follow my lead and use the words I like.

    While we’re at it we should add pronouns for an inclusive and exclusive group (“We,” meaning my friends and I, but not you (exclusive) or “We,” meaning my friends, you, and I (inclusive)).

  3. Librin Latone

    I was hoping you would also talk about pronouns not just re: gender, but also re: situational power (The Secret Life of Pronouns by James Pennebaker changed the way I looked at pronouns and their use – it’s fascinating). You should see if you could do this as a follow-up segment, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      That sounds really interesting, though I’m not sure I understand it. Can you give me the abstract?

      • Librin Latone

        So this is 100% me (not Amazon), but it’s about the paradigm of power and how people use pronouns. Would you think “I” is a submissive or aggressive pronoun? How much does someone in a peer/submissive/leadership position use “I” (or “you”)? Using computers to track emails, letter, memos, etc. Pennebaker (a social psychologist and language expert) has studied how people use pronouns IN power and TO power (situational power between people).

        When you start applying it to dialogue – it really can make a difference!

  4. Pyrut13

    I’m getting that two second podcast mentioned above when I try to use the Podcasts app to listen to this podcast, please fix ASAP.

    • Chris Winkle

      I’ve completely deleted that 2-second file from the system, so nothing should be confusing iTunes on our end anymore. However, you may need to do something in iTunes to make it reindex our RSS and grab the correct file. You can try restarting iTunes or deleting the feed and re-adding it, etc.

  5. Pyrut13

    Hey, can you give me a written version of the gender neutral words used in the podcast (as well as any you’ve thought of since) and the context just so I can be sure not to misuse them?

  6. Bellis

    ugh I WISH german had a singular gender neutral pronoun! unfortunately we don’t even have something equivalent to singular they. If you mean “sie”, it either translates to singular gendered “she” or plural “they” or singular “you” (honorific). So it is only non-gendered in situations where the english equivalent would also not be gendered. Singular third person pronouns are exactly like in english “he, she, it” except we also call objects she and he a lot of the times. (and sometimes people “it” but that is becoming less common I think)

    And then we also gender our nouns that refer to people (like teacher, role player, commenter…) and articles and adjectives. Trying to write (and, worse, speak) german while being gender-neutral is very frustrating and sticks out a lot to people who aren’t used to it.

    – sincerely, ein*e frustrierte*r deutsche*r nichtbinäre*r Kommentator*in


Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy (updated 03/28/20) and our privacy policy for details on how we moderate comments and who receives your information.