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Singular they

As many people keep asking about it, here is an explanation about the use of the singular they: *Usage Note: “Singular they” English does not have a way of identifying a single person with a pronoun if his or her gender is not known, so sometimes the third-person plural forms (they, them, etc.) are used as a gender-neutral alternative to the third-person feminine/masculine forms. This is sometimes called “singular they.” For example: “You shouldn’t judge someone until you know what they are really like.” “If anyone needs extra help with their studies, they should feel free to see me after class.” “Singular they” is gradually becoming accepted as the norm, especially in instances with indefinite pronouns that sound plural but are grammatically singular (like someone or anyone in the examples above). However, it is still considered incorrect by many writers and writing guides, especially in American English. Previously, it was standard practice to simply use the masculine third-person singular forms (he, him, his, himself), but this is now seen as being potentially sexist. Likewise, using only the feminine third-person singular would be exclusionary, and mixing him and her throughout a piece of writing would be confusing. Therefore, in formal or professional writing, the best form to use is “he or she” or “him or her,” or else simply to rewrite the sentence to avoid sounding cluttered or awkward. In informal writing or speech, though, using “singular they” is generally OK.

November 25, 2016

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Source: The English Free Dictionary Farlex

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