Microsoft Office is getting pronoun choices

In a move sure to anger some folks, Microsoft is adding pronoun choices to contacts details on profile cards.  People will be able to let others know how they like to be addressed: she/her, her/him, they/them or other choices. Before some blood pressure levels rise to dangerous levels, Office Watch will explain what’s happening.

What are pronouns?

Pronouns are a standard part of English in words such as I, me, him, her etc. These days some people prefer to be mentioned with gender neutral pronouns such as ‘they’ and ‘them’ instead of ‘he/him’ or ‘she/her’.

Opinion: Gender neutral pronouns sound strange to this humble but aging correspondent.  But it’s a harmless choice that a few people make and respecting their choice is simple politeness. The people who don’t like these new pronouns don’t have to use them.

Alas, the pronoun issue gets some people very angry. A Twitter mention of this article received a two-word rude response less than an hour after posting. As Office nerds we’re focused on what Microsoft services can do, not making judgements about their place in society.


All Microsoft will do is offer a CHOICE that people can include, or not, in their own contact details as they appear on profile cards in Outlook and Teams.

Microsoft is NOT forcing gender neutral pronouns on customers.  They don’t even require people to choose what pronouns they prefer.

Contact details for business and education are getting a new option ‘Pronouns’ like this.

Source: Microsoft

Click on that button to add your preferred pronouns so that others in your organization can see them.

Source: Microsoft

A pronoun choice is saved in the Exchange Mailbox, along with all the other details of that contact.

When is this happening?

According to Microsoft, pronoun preference will be available in Microsoft Teams this month (February 2023) and generally in Outlook profiles for hosted Microsoft 365 mailboxes in March 2023.

NOTE: the Pronouns option can be turned on/off by IT admins, so it might not show up in your organization. It’s not clear from Microsoft’s pre-release documents whether the option will default on or off.

At present, it appears to only apply to online services (browser based). Presumably, pronoun preferences will later appear on Outlook desktop/app.

Alas, some commentators will probably seize on this change and twist it to make their audience angry … over nothing. Just like the false story Microsoft Word had gone ‘woke’ and politically correct which could be disproven in seconds.

Microsoft must know there’s a likely backlash so they’ve made a series of pages starting here and including an exclamation of what pronouns are. We’ve done the same thing, since some folks use the word ‘pronouns’ only referring to the modern usage (like ‘they/them’) when it’s really an indispensable part of English grammar that we all use every day.

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