So, I have been wondering about this for a while. Why is there still no gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun? The best in English is the compound phrase "he or she". And are there other languages that do have a gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun?

  • They've only been looking for one for about 50 years. It takes a lot longer than that to establish this kind of word in English.
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 1, 2017 at 12:04
  • 4
    English has had a gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun for hundreds of years. What kind of nonsensical question is this? "Why is there still no word for dog in English?" Well. Um. Wat.
    – RegDwigнt
    Aug 1, 2017 at 12:22
  • "they" and "their" being used even for the singular has come into very common use. It looks like it is winning out. Our language has merged "thou" ('singular') and "you" plural to make 'you' apply in both cases so this sort of accommodation really shouldn't be anything too appalling.
    – Tom22
    Aug 1, 2017 at 22:10
  • Not a duplicate, but should be closed on other grounds. Aug 1, 2017 at 22:42

2 Answers 2


While languages change all the time, they are very resistant to people trying to impose change upon them. Consider l'Académie française, which has been trying unsuccessfully for decades to get the French to stop saying le weekend and similar Anglicisms. While there have been numerous attempts to introduce a third-person gender neutral pronoun, none of them have gained any traction.

Meanwhile, the use of singular they, which had been used in English for centuries, but which had been discouraged by grammarians for around a century, is now undergoing a renaissance, to the point where it has become widely acceptable among young people. See this language-log post.

While using singular they will occasionally give rise to an ambiguity, any attempt to get people to start using any other singular gender-neutral third-person pronoun is tilting at windmills.


They can be used to avoid saying he or she [Cambridge].

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