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Example:

A philosophy student has to go before a panel of judges and debate his topic.

if I make it:

A philosophy student has to go before a panel of judges and debate their topic.

The reader isn't sure if I'm talking about the student's topic or the judges' topic.

Another example:

These people will then teach the philosophy student taking into account his background of experience.

if I make it:

These people will then teach the philosophy student taking into account their background of experience.

The reader isn't sure if I'm talking about the student's background or these people background.

What to do in these types of situations?

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    It's no more ambiguous that "A philosophy student has to go before an examiner and debate his topic." Get rid of it in the same way you would get rid of the ambiguity in that sentence. You could, for example, say "A philosophy student has to debate his topic before an examiner." Nov 6, 2022 at 14:38
  • @PeterShor If you don't mind me asking, how would you solve the ambiguity in that sentence?
    – Johny
    Nov 6, 2022 at 14:41
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    ... But it doesn't resolve 'The professor will then teach him taking into account his background.' Singular they and generic his both have drawbacks. Nov 6, 2022 at 20:06
  • 1
    1. A philosophy student has to debate their topic before a panel of judges. Nov 7, 2022 at 3:03
  • 1
    2. Taking into account the philosophy student's background of experience, these people will then design an individualized curriculum. Nov 7, 2022 at 3:10

1 Answer 1

1

Deletion of "go" and 'pronoun shifting' will do the job.

A philosophy student has to debate his topic before a panel of judges.

A philosophy student has to debate their topic before a panel of judges.

Taking into account the philosophy student's background of experience, these people will teach him.

Taking into account their background of experience, these people will teach him.

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