Gender pronouns are used to indicate gender and include third- person singular pronouns such as, him, her, her, him, his, hers, herself, himself, he’d and she’d. The other kinds of pronouns do not make any distinctions between genders and are gender-neutral and also referred as “GNPs”, “gender-free pronouns”, “epicene pronouns”, “ungendered pronouns”, “genderless pronouns”, or “natural-gender pronouns”. “It” (“its” and “itself”) is the only singular pronoun in the third person used a gender-neutral pronoun. Pronouns in the third-person plural such as they, them, their, theirs and themselves can be used for either gender and are called gender neutral pronouns.
In the English language the pronouns such as I, we, he, she, it, they are called Personal pronouns. Of these, the pronouns in the third person singular are gender-specific. They include “he” (singular masculine), ‘she” (singular feminine), and “it” (singular non-personal) used for objects, most animals and for abstractions. Gender neutral pronouns are so called as they do not reveal the gender of a person. Pronouns in the third-person plural such as they, them, their, theirs and themselves can be used for either gender and are called gender neutral pronouns. In the nominative case the pronoun one is used in a general sense irrespective of the gender.
Many times the masculine form is used as a gender neutral pronoun. The argument is that such a word is all inclusive. It is generally used to refer to an indefinite person or when one is not sure of the gender, for example, “If someone comes for me, tell him to wait in the office". But such a usage of the pronoun “he” is not always considered appropriate and writers are under pressure to include the feminine gender also in the sentences. So the new style was to use “she” sometimes while referring in general to a person. Soon it came to be replaced by the term s/he used to indicate either gender. But the term was not well accepted by the academicians and is rarely in use nowadays.
In English, “It” (“its” and “itself”) is the only singular pronoun in the third person used a gender-neutral pronoun. The pronoun “it” may also refer to places, objects, materials, animals, or non-human life of unknown gender. However, the pronoun “it” is used in impersonal constructions and is considered offensive to use it to refer to a human being of unknown gender. Some examples of the usage of “it’ as a pronoun includes sentences such as “It screamed like a siren”, “That is its tail”, “I call it a non-entity”
The new trend in pronoun usage currently is the use of the plural pronoun “their” as a singular pronoun to denote gender neutral pronouns. The pronouns “they”, “them”, “themselves” are being increasingly used as singular pronouns in Britain, North America and Australia. As a result the problem of referring to any particular gender is solved. This technique seeks to please both the genders and many publications seem to have accepted this usage. But staunch grammarians have yet to accept the new trend.