I'm writing content with dynamic names, e.g. "Alice" or "Bill" may be substituted in place of (name). Without knowing the gender of the name, what is the best way to reference the individual? Using "their" feels clunky. I could try to write the content in a way to avoid this issue but it gets complicated.

Sample: (name1) needs to rewrite their resume, but (name2) does not.

  • Alice needs to rewrite her resume, but Bill does not. (ok)
  • Alice needs to rewrite their resume, but Bill does not. (feels clunky - is this ok?)

Links to related articles:

Is it correct to use "their" instead of "his or her"?

Is there a correct gender-neutral singular pronoun ("his" vs. "her" vs. "their")?

  • You've found the relevant related articles. You're asking essentially the same thing. "They" and "their" are your only options, short of "it" and "its". Sadly, English was not designed to be written with gender-unspecified placeholders. – GoldenGremlin Jul 26 '16 at 22:24
  • Your only options are "their" as a gender neutral pronoun determiner, or the quite cumbersome "his or her," or the not recommended "its" unless "it" is an unborn baby in which case "it" is appropriate, but then unborn babies rarely have the need to write resumes much less rewrite them. – Benjamin Harman Jul 26 '16 at 22:49
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    Do you control which names are used? You could use gender neutral names and it sounds far less clunky. The problem is within the context of the sentences you have, we do know their gender. "Alex needs to rewrite their resume" sounds fine – Slepz Jul 26 '16 at 22:59
  • Thanks for the comments. FYI though - saying it's a duplicate without explanation isn't helpful when I've already included a link to the other articles in my answer. The other articles don't mention proper nouns, which was why I asked this specific question. – Justin Jul 27 '16 at 15:49

'Their' cannot be used in the place of 'his' or 'her'. Usually, in such cases, we have to use 'his or her' within brackets, like (his or her).

There is nothing redundant here, as it is required in the interest of clarity.

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  • You should probably take a look at "singular they". It's a thing and it's becoming more and more common. – Catija Jul 26 '16 at 23:01
  • actually using they and their in the first person for gender neutral pronouns is pretty common – Slepz Jul 26 '16 at 23:01

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