Can someone explain how gender pronouns work

I’m not trying to be a dick, I’m just confused as to why there are two of them.

Like he/him or she/her. Is one based on your biological identity and the other based on your cognitive identity? Like is a male who feels like a female referred to as he/she, is a woman who identifies both biologically and cognitively as a woman she/her? I am just curious how the terms work. I’m from an older generation and I’m trying to look it up online but I’m still confused.

Also why are some terms singular vs plural, and some terms are 1st person vs 3rd person?

Is they/them a term for someone who feels non-binary?

I assume, for example, He/Him means:
He went to the market.
The bagged groceries will be handed to him.
But I tend to be an idiot.

A smart idiot, 'cause AIUI . . . you nailed it.

For some people, pronoun sets don’t match. A non binary person may go for example by she/them. A woman (cis or trans) would go by she/her. ‘Cognitive Identity’ enters into it. ‘biological identity’, whatever that is, does not.

I think you are a bit confused here- it’s not that there is one for biology and one for how you identify. The difference between he and him and she and her is their function in a sentence. He and she are subject pronouns and him and her are object pronouns. You would never say “Him went to work” or " That’s she car" unless you were a child still learning to speak. There are also possessive pronouns.

Singular they/them is used by anyone who chooses to and also when a person’s pronouns are unknown especially if they are unknown because a specific person is not being spoken of - for example, “Someone left their book on the desk”

Are there terms for trans people whose biological and cognitive identity do not line up, or do they generally prefer to be referred to as the pronouns of their cognitive identity? So a biological man with a woman’s identity would be she/her?

What are the plural terms for? Are those for people who do not feel binary?

Each person uses the pronouns that they feel are most appropriate - the fact that I am a cis-woman doesn’t mean my pronouns cannot be they/them/theirs.

If you mean they/them/theirs , they are used when speaking about more than one person, when speaking about an indeterminate person and when speaking about a person who uses those pronouns and may identify as male/female/non-binary/agender or anything I’ve missed.

Which is why the repetition of the same pronoun gender in redundant subjective and objective forms has always seemed a bit pointless to me. If I tell you my preferred pronoun is “she”, and you are fluent in English, then you know right away that I also prefer the pronoun “her” in the objective case and “hers” as the corresponding possessive pronoun.

IAN transgender or non-binary so can’t speak with authority on that, but I think the “plural” pronouns are actually the gender-neutral singular “they” and “them” pronouns. IME, such pronouns are often used by non-binary people but also by many people who just don’t particularly care about, or for some reason are avoiding, asserting their gender identification via pronouns.

The two pronouns, if they match up, are just there because it sounds weird to just say “John Smith, him.”

If they don’t match up, they indicate that the person will go by more than one. So, he/they means the person is okay with he or they.

The preferred pronoun tends to go first, as in someone who says “they/she” are their pronouns tends to prefer “they,” and is more likely non-binary, but feminine leaning.

Before I would have said “she/they” or “he/they” meant something similar. But lately it’s been used a lot by cisgender people just to indicate they are okay with singular they.

And note that you also see “he/them,” but it means the same thing. And that occasionally you see nonstandard (or neo) pronouns, which inherently list all the pronouns.

Indeed. The one time I’ve run into someone who uses uses plural (as in they literally refer to themselves as “we”), they listed their pronouns as “they/them (plural).”

I think it’s because when people first started sharing pronouns, they often shared novel pronouns, like e, em, ers, and they really did need to give all the forms. Now that the singular “they” has pretty much won, it’s superfluous, but maybe it is because “John Smith, he” sounds funny. But honestly, when I give people a checkbox for pronouns, it looks like:
any pronouns
other (please tell me, so I can add it to the list)

(and I let people click multiple boxes if they use both “they” and “he”, for instance.)

Some people use more than one set of pronouns, and they will list something like “he, they”. As I indicated above, I think listing both the 1st and 2nd person of the same pronoun is kinda a holdover.

It can be. It’s also used by people who feel masculine or feminine, but are striking a blow for gender-neutral pronouns.

Nitpick: Not “first and second person”, but “subjective/objective/possessive forms” of the same pronoun.

First-person pronouns like “I” and “we” are by definition different from second-person pronouns like “thou” and “you” and from third-person pronouns like “she” and “he” and “they”.

“I/me/mine” lists the subjective, objective, and possessive forms of the first-person singular pronoun, as “he/him/his” does for the third-person masculine singular pronoun, and so forth.

Over the last few years, I have schooled myself to use “they” as a singular pronoun in any situation where I don’t know a preferred alternative.

At first, it sounded weird, but it has become normalised over time. I still find sentences like "Cynthia can do anything they want" weird though and try to avoid them.

thanks. I thought that sounded wrong.

Previous thread:

Is there anyone who goes by “non-matching” object/subject pronouns who could explain more about what’s going on here?

Like, I understand he/him, she/her, they/them, and he/they/him/them.

I’m struggling to wrap my head around she/them. If a gendered pronoun is ok for the object, why not for the subject?

Pronouns are partly a way of communicating something about oneself, but I have no idea what’s being communicated by she/them or they/him or other not-grammatically matching sets.

As I said, she/them usually just means the person will go by either she or they for subject pronouns, and her or them for object pronouns (and her/hers or their/theirs for possessive pronouns).

Do you know anyone who actually insists on a gendered subject pronoun and an ungendered object pronoun?

I think she/them is just because it’s shorter than

she/they might be a little easier to understand , but I suspect people don’t put that much thought into it

I’ve mostly heard “she/they”, and honestly, if i saw “she/them” i would assume it means the same thing.

Fwiw, i just made 45 name tags, most of which have gender pronouns (it was an option) and not one was of the form “he/them”. I have a “she/they”, and a “they/he”, and all the rest are just different forms of one of the standard pronouns, he, she, or they.