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Can "individual" be referred to as "it"? Or only he/she/they?

marked as duplicate by Laurel, Jason Bassford, J. Taylor, Mitch, TimLymington Feb 27 at 23:25

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It's generally inappropriate to refer to an individual as "it". "It" is used to refer to an unintelligent/unthinking target.

If referring to a human individual of unknown gender, use singular "they". It is usually acceptable to refer to an animal as "it" if the gender is unknown

  • But what about the word "individual" itself? Namely, is it grammatically correct to say "each individual can reach its full potential"? Or should it be "they" in this case? Thanks. – Pavel Emelyanov Feb 27 at 22:40

"It's a boy" or "It's a girl" is commonly used to refer to a newborn of previously unknown gender. However, as Mattark noted, "it" is inappropriate to refer to anyone older.

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