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I'm writing my Bachelor's thesis where I describe students' activities in a dormitory.

A student produces with a valid ID or passport here and hands in an ID card photo. In case he/she has a reserved room, there is prepared a printed dormitory agreement.

Should I use only plural in the whole document or is singular form also applicable?

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Welcome! I think this has appeared before: this is a possible duplicate of Is there a correct gender-neutral, singular pronoun ("his" versus "her" versus "their")? –  Andrew Leach Dec 21 '12 at 11:23
    
Replace "he/she" with "the student"; change "In case" to "If": If the student has a reserved room.... Also, remove the first "with": A student produces a valid ID... To answer your questions: the singular is acceptable, but, as you've discovered, it can lead to some awkward pronoun-gender problems. Two solutions: (1) use "they" in place of "he/she"; or (2) use one or the other, and put a note at the front of your thesis that says that gender-specific pronouns are not meant to be restrictive, and are only used in place of the much uglier he/she or (s)he. –  J.R. Dec 21 '12 at 11:24
    
I have removed the second part of your question because it is a duplicate of this question and the many questions linked from there. On a more general note, Stack Exchange works best when questions are limited to one question, especially if the several questions are unrelated, as was the case here. Otherwise you can get a good answer that focuses on question one, an equally good answer that focuses on question two, etc. — and you have no idea which of them to mark as accepted. –  RegDwigнt Dec 21 '12 at 11:26
    
Thank you for altering of the topic. I didn't know how to search for a similar topic, because I didn't know correct phrases and words. Also, thank you J.R. for pointing out some other things. –  Ondrej Janacek Dec 21 '12 at 13:31
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@FumbleFingers Yes, I have a good reason. And if I am writing it in my native language, I would still have to think about how to write it and then let a corrector to check it. So I'll take my chances here :) –  Ondrej Janacek Dec 24 '12 at 12:08

1 Answer 1

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The singular, as you have used with A student produces... is not only possible but may be clearer than the plural. This is because with Students produce...ID photos, it would not be clear whether each student should produce one photograph or a set; A student produces a photo is unambiguous.

Whichever you choose, do check (repeatedly) that you remain consistent throughout the document. If you start Students produce their valid IDs and later go on to a dormitory agreement, it would be reasonable to assume that only one agreement is produced per dormitory. Conversely, A student arrives with a valid ID which later mutates to their passports is arguably ungrammatical, and quite possibly confusing.

(Note to supporters of singular their; the word was 'arguably'. Your dictionary citations do not alter the fact that it is controversial , and therefore best avoided in a thesis written in your second language. Can we please not have this same argument every time the point is mentioned?)

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"A student arrives with a valid ID which later mutates to their passports" is unarguably ungrammatical. For it to be grammatical, even for members of the singular they/them/their cadre, it'd have to be "A student arrives with a valid ID which later mutates to their passport", unless each student has two or more passports, which would be probable only at 007 University. –  user21497 Dec 21 '12 at 12:42

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