Using "it" as main character's pronouns

In my story main character is part of the project focused on creating artificial pilots for mecha. Given the fact they’re explicitly created by one of the major corporations in the setting for a singular purpose, I viewed it prudent to give PC no name or gender with the expectations he / she / they / it will develop it during the course of the game.

What I’m stuck with is the pronoun system. Currently androids refer to each other by model name and “it” in singular while switching to “they” in plural. For example, an android would call another KAISER-7 both in thoughts and speech and then switch to “it” after naming its model. While I like this idea, I would like to hear your opinion about it. What would work best? They / them feels a bit confusing to work with.


Shouldn’t the MC be “you” or “I”

I’d say do it. It makes sense for the story. Do we ever call robots in our world as they/them? If the people within your world view the character as a non-living being, then they will be treated as a non-living being.


Yeah, but generally the idea was that androids are programmed to refer to each other as “it”. They understand the concepts of gender and sex - but only when it comes to humans, because they’re machines of war, worrying about gender should not be their concern. The story is written in second person, but people would have to refer to PC in third, right?


I mean…

I guess?

I thought you meant in the narration.

I was like “that would be confusing as fuck”

You may want to refer to this discussion for details, and any other made up (non binary) pronouns.

Edit: My story also has humans and robots. But not any old robots. They are called “Reploids”. Like humans, Reploids do have a gender: they can be male, female or nonbinary. In the third case, they use “they” (pun intended) as their preferred pronouns. Fun fact: most nonbinary Reploids are nonbinary because they still see themselves as not just second-class citizens, but separate species from humans altogether. Feeling prejudiced, they choose of their own freewill to label as nonbinary.

Personally I quite like that idea. There’s a sci-fi series that I love whose main character is a human-bot construct and is exclusively referred to by it/its pronouns. I think both in character and narrative wise it was a really good choice, and the writing didn’t suffer from it from a comprehension/flow standpoint. From what you’ve told from your own project, I think it/its pronouns and no name is the best choice and would lead to a very interesting path if the MC develops a sense of identity and wishes to use diferent pronouns/name. I’m sucker for robots/monsters developing human-ish traits while keeping their non-human sense of self, so I’m kinda hoping you end up sharing your story with us :)). Anyway, hope this helped.


Makes sense; it might be tricky to differentiate between characters in the same way that it can be when everyone is called “he”, but that can’t be judged without seeing how it feels to read in a longer piece of writing with context, description etc.

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What is wrong with inclusivity? There’s no need to invalidate nonbinary people. You may not agree with the company values, but CoG is supportive of different identities, so inclusivity will always be encouraged (and rightfully so).


If you don’t like it, you’re free to leave, no one is holding back your outdated believes, simple as; whichever pronouns a person wants to have is on them, and if you have any decency, you’d respect the person behind them and use their chosen pronouns


The main character is android, and not a human? If so, then yes, “it” and “they” are very much appropriate, especially because the name of the android is a model name. The pronouns I use for androids are the same I use for electronic devices (for example, when at school, I refer to calculators by their brand and model, and use “it” for singular, and “they” for plural).

I think the only times when “it” as a pronoun for an android would not work is if the android was programmed specifically in a masculine or feminine manner (so you would use he or she, in this case).

My apologies, I know this is off-topic, but…

I beg your pardon, but this piqued my curiosity. May I ask why these machines of war need to understand gender and sex? You don’t have to answer this if it’s a spoiler in your work :blush:

Seems like “it” is an excellent pronoun to use here!

Using “it” for any sentient creature would be extremely disrespectful, but only if it’s contrary to what the creature’s preferred pronouns are. It weirded me out at first to see some supernatural, sentient non-humans in some games go by “it,” but, hey, if that’s what it wants, I can oblige.

Mainly because they’re working very closely with humans. They serve as their coordinators and navigators, thus it would be important to discern one by all available characteristics. Sex and gender are one of such characteristics.

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If you read Martha Wells’ Murderbot series, she deals with this issue. Murderbot is an it, and is disgusted by even the idea that gender specific terms could be applied to it (“I’m not a sexbot” is what Murderbot would say about it,) and everyone around it who knows what it is simply has to deal with that. It isn’t made a plot point (meaning there’s no real discussion about using it as a pronoun,) that’s just the way things are. It might help you get a handle on this, seeing how someone else has dealt with it in her writing.

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