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If you want to refer to a singular person, you've got He/She/They. Has this always been the case in English? Was the pronoun 'it' once a part of this list?

Either way, do we know what patterns led to the English-speaking decision that 'it' should be reserved for mostly non-living things?

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  • There was no "English-speaking decision"; the English language wasn't planned, it just kind of happened.
    – Robusto
    Feb 8, 2019 at 15:02
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    It was (and is still) sometimes used for babies. It can even be used for other humans when their identity is seen as less important than their status as a member of the human race. For example, something like “A lone human appeared over the ridge. It moved slowly forward, looking around as it went” is not unusual in certain types of fiction. This is an edge case, though, and you’re right that we don’t in general use it to refer to human beings (unless your name happens to be Gollum, that is). Feb 8, 2019 at 15:06
  • @Robusto I'm aware. With the phrasing I used I hoped to overcome that very point. Hopefully you can still understand that I am looking for the patterns behind how this happened and not get too caught up in one word like 'decision', because my language skills are not always optimal. Feb 8, 2019 at 15:14

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