The Pronoun Test

Instructions

Paste the text of your story (or novel) into the text box below, tick the pronoun groups you want to look for, and click the Pronouns! button. (Your story isn’t sent to our server, or anywhere else. The analysis is all done by a script running in your own browser.)

See “Why the Pronoun Test?” below for why we devised this test, and what it might tell you.

(You’ll need Javascript enabled in your browser for this tool to work.)

Your story text


Female:
Male:
First person:
Non-gendered:
Plural:

Results

Enter your text and click Pronouns!...

 
 
 
 
 

Why the Pronoun Test?

In Nabakov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve: The literary quirks and oddities of our most-loved authors, Ben Blatt’s fun and intriguing look at what digital analysis of literary texts can tell us, Blatt looked into how easy it was to tell, using a statistical analysis of a text, whether it was written by a man or a woman.

After looking at Neal Krawetz’s technique based on the occurrence of 51 specific words in a text, Blatt derived his own, far rougher but strangely (or perhaps not-so-strangely) effective test: a simple check of the relative occurrences of “he” and “she". In general, men used mostly “he"; women (though more balanced) used more “she".

Blatt makes clear this is not true for every author, and certainly not every book by every author. Story and subject (war, nunneries), of course, will dictate some results. But it still makes for an interesting, quick test.

(Blatt also found other differences in the use of words between males and females. Read his book for more on this.)

So why the Pronoun Test? It’s just presented here for interest, fun, and any use you care to make of it. It looks not just for “he”, but “him” and “his", and so on, and you can bring other pronoun types in as you want.

What will it tell you? We have no idea. Play around with it and find out!

To round off, here are some results from a handful of literary classics (texts courtesy of Gutenberg.org). (Non-gendered pronouns have not been included in this table as, these being old texts, they were all at 0%.):

Title & author female male first-person plural
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy 19% 53% 16% 12%
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 27% 47% 18% 8%
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 33% 28% 27% 12%
Persuasion by Jane Austen 35% 30% 22% 14%
This Side of Paradise by F Scott Fitzgerald 16% 44% 28% 12%
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley 8% 17% 69% 6%
Dracula by Bram Stoker 12% 32% 48% 7%
Middlemarch by George Eliot 25% 42% 26% 7%
The War of the Worlds by H G Wells 3% 22% 55% 20%
Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman 14% 17% 31% 37%
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott 35% 22% 34% 9%
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens 11% 28% 56% 5%

(Non-gendered pronouns have been taken from this page at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center, at the University of Milwaukee.)