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I want to use singular they with the phrase known as. I am not sure if the appellation following known as should be in the singular or plural. Which of the following is correct?

  1. After completing the Hajj to Mecca, wherever one goes, they are known as a Hajji.

  2. After completing the Hajj to Mecca, wherever one goes, they are known as Hajjis.

Or, with a gender-neutral appellation (based on the comment below)

  1. After emigrating to the US, when one visits India, they are jokingly called an American Desi by their friends back home.

  2. After emigrating to the US, when one visits India, they are jokingly called American Desis by their friends back home.

Which one is grammatically correct?

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    Since only men get the title "Haji" -- the title for women is "Hajiya" -- you might want to reconsider rephrasing your sentence entirely. – deadrat Aug 30 '15 at 1:50
  • I added another example which is gender-neutral. I would like to know the answer irrespective of whether the appellation is gender-neutral or not. – user22209 Aug 30 '15 at 2:15
  • Use the pronoun one to refer back to one (the full paradigm: one, one's, oneself.) – Anonym Aug 30 '15 at 2:27
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    That said, singular they functions the same as singular you: i.e. if talking to one person, you will say After completing the Hajj to Mecca, wherever you go, you are known as a Hajji, and, if talking to more than one, you will say After completing the Hajj to Mecca, wherever you go, you are known as Hajjis. Use the same logic with they. – Anonym Aug 30 '15 at 2:29
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The word 'they' as singular is gender neutral and refers to anyone at all, which means you can replace the word with any other singular pronoun and the sentence should still make sense.
e.g.
Someone called; they had a really hoarse voice.
Someone called; he had a really hoarse voice.

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The singular "they" can be tricky. You will probably want to do some editing in order to minimize its use. For example:

An emigré to the U.S. who visits India is jokingly called an American Desi by old friends back home.

After emigrating to the US, someone who visits India is jokingly called "American Desi" by their friends back home.

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