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Questions tagged [singular-they]

Questions about the use of “they”, “them”, “their”, “themself”, or “themselves” to refer to a singular animate antecedent of unspecified gender.

328
votes
22answers
96k views

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

Is there a pronoun I can use as a gender-neutral pronoun when referring back to a singular noun phrase? Each student should save his questions until the end. Each student should save her ...
65
votes
7answers
201k views

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

Is this sentence grammatically correct? Anyone who loves the English language should have a copy of this book in their bookcase. or should it be: Anyone who loves the English language should ...
31
votes
6answers
30k views

Is using “he” for a gender-neutral third-person correct?

I know there are different opinions on this issue. My question: Is using "he" for a general, gender-neutral third person still in common use for formal writing? By common use I mean, can I expect my ...
31
votes
9answers
2k views

The hidden flaw in “singular they”—what to do about reflexive pronouns?

We have a highly regarded answer by nohat to a question about gender-neutral pronouns, in which he points to the "singular they" and its long history of use in English. (Note that he also advises ...
27
votes
5answers
19k views

Reason for the current trend to use «she» as the gender-neutral pronoun?

There are some questions on gender-neutral pronouns both here and on Writers. User Christine Letts writes: In academia, there is currently a movement toward using the feminine pronoun at all ...
16
votes
6answers
10k views

Using both “one’s” and “their” to refer to the same entity

Consider this example: Sustainability management in large organisations is an important activity that helps to achieve one’s business goals while at the same time reducing their environmental ...
15
votes
4answers
27k views

Gender neutral reflexive pronoun — equivalent to “himself” and “herself”

How would you refer to a gender neutral subject with a reflexive pronoun? It is unbelievable how a perpetrator will cast oneself in the role of victim. That does not seem right. Is there a better ...
13
votes
6answers
3k views

why is “their” the wrong usage in this sentence?

Why is their in the following sentence wrong? The modern American family differs in many significant ways from their nineteenth-century counterpart.
13
votes
4answers
64k views

Should I use “his/her” or “its”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicates: Gender neutral pronoun Is it correct to use “their” instead of “his or her”? I am writing software documentation. I have this issue: I am talking ...
12
votes
3answers
3k views

Why isn’t singular ‘they’ used with 3Sg verb forms?

There are many (duplicate) questions about the acceptance, popularity and history of singular they (and their, them and themself) around here, it even got a tag of its own. If I didn’t miss anything, ...
10
votes
2answers
10k views

What is a proper gender-neutral form of himself or herself [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is there a correct gender-neutral, singular pronoun (“his” versus “her” versus “their”)? Gender neutral reflexive pronoun — equivalent to &...
10
votes
1answer
79k views

'Him or herself' v. 'himself or herself'?

I was reading this article on the New York Times. This sentence caused me some confusion: But what I’m teaching are topics such as 5th-century Indian theories of logical inference, or the ...
9
votes
5answers
11k views

Is it appropriate to refer to a person of unknown sex by “it”?

I would like to treat a user as a non-gender noun and refer to it with the gender-neutral pronoun, it. E.g., The user defines two variables, x and y. It then multiplies each variable by a prime ...
8
votes
3answers
6k views

Why isn't “it” used in place of “he or she”, “he/she”, “s/he” etc.?

There is a related discussion on this Q&A site. My question is different. I'm all for gender awareness, but why hasn't a properly defined pronoun "it" been used instead of "he/she" or "he or she",...
8
votes
3answers
650 views

Whoever had the lice, they're dead now

This sentence is from South Park. There was a lice problem in the school and the children demand that their teacher Mrs. Garrison tell them who exactly had the lice. She says that it's not important ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

Can “a person” be used as plural? [duplicate]

Is it acceptable to write: A person can develop their talent. or a person can develop their uniqueness? In this case the person is used as a general term, not a specific person.
7
votes
5answers
3k views

How to avoid sexist language? [closed]

I have observed that I use a lot of sexist terms; it comes naturally to me! I have resolved to be "perfectly" non-sexist from now onwards. I would like to know how to avoid sexist language. Yes, I'...
7
votes
5answers
2k views

What is the accepted stance on using “they” in a singular form? [duplicate]

Is it good English to say "They have just left", when talking about a single person (perhaps someone you don't know the gender of)? (I am a native English speaker, I'm looking for the view held by ...
7
votes
2answers
520 views

Why are “he”, “she”, and “it” distinct in the singular, but all “they” in the plural?

Other languages have gender-specific third-person plural pronouns (e.g., ellos and ellas in Spanish). English does not, despite the masculine/feminine/neuter distinction being obligatory in the ...
7
votes
3answers
4k views

She/he to refer a user [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Reason for the current trend to use «she» as the gender-neutral pronoun? Can the feminine pronouns be gender-neutral? Is there a correct gender-neutral, singular ...
7
votes
8answers
535 views

Rewrite this grammatically troubling movie poster

On a Wiki-walk the other day, I stumbled across the movie poster for Devil. The tagline on the poster is: Five strangers trapped. One of them is not what they seem. The writer was obviously using ...
6
votes
2answers
3k views

What are the most popular gender-neutral pronouns that aren't the same as other contemporary pronouns?

There have been attempts to use other contemporary English pronouns to stand-in as a true gender-neutral pronoun, given that English is lacking a commonly-accepted one for adult humans (non-humans and ...
6
votes
1answer
692 views

Stack Exchange profile: “This user prefers to keep an air of mystery about them” [duplicate]

When a user does not fill his "about me" section in his profile, the following sentence appears: Apparently, this user prefers to keep an air of mystery about them. To my knowledge (which are ...
5
votes
5answers
2k views

Using “she” with gender-neutral nouns

The song “Frozen” from Madonna’s Ray of Light (1998) contains the lyrics: Love is a bird, she needs to fly, Let all the hurt inside of you die. Does she refer to bird or love? And why is it ...
5
votes
3answers
937 views

“His head” or “their head”?

I was disappointed to see a favorite storybook from my childhood has been edited. (Harry, the Dirty Dog; ISBN-13: 978-0064430098) I distinctly remember the text written as follows: ...but ...
4
votes
3answers
5k views

Can “his/her” be replaced by “his”?

Yesterday, I asked this question on Web Apps: If a Facebook user dies, what happens to the account? Actually, I wanted to ask it this way: If a Facebook user dies, what happens to his/her ...
4
votes
2answers
9k views

User: She, He, She or He, or They? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is there a correct gender neutral, singular pronoun (his vs. her vs. their)? I would like to know if when I'm writing about a "user" (in the broad sense), what do I use? ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Can the feminine pronouns be gender-neutral? [closed]

I know this sounds weird but I've been noticing a lot of texts on the Internet like this one: "Any citizen is concerned with her well-being ...". The word in question is "her". To me it seems like in ...
3
votes
2answers
616 views

Is the formation “[s]he” overly distracting?

Does the use of "[s]he" as a gender-neutral pronoun prompt eye-rolling in the reader or is it generally accepted? I know it cannot be pronounced, but it seems to me a helpful contraction in written ...
3
votes
1answer
3k views

What's the right possessive pronoun for “nobody”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is there a correct gender-neutral, singular pronoun (“his” versus “her” versus “their”)? None as plural indefinite pronoun Should it be ...
3
votes
3answers
334 views

What might this example teach us about singular “they”?

I just now encountered the following sentence in a student paper: Any new parents that have adopted a child of a different race generally embrace their biological parents[’] race. Having ...
3
votes
1answer
93 views

Can it ever be acceptable to use singular “they” with a specific referent of known but undisclosed gender?

I am not sure whether these two examples using singular they to refer to a specific, singular referent are acceptable in educated speech: I had a friend in Paris, and they had to visit the doctor for ...
2
votes
3answers
3k views

“They're using a cell phone” vs. “They're using cell phones”

The usage of singular and plural has always been confusing for me. I often see sentences like these People are using cell phones. People are using a cell phone. Does the first sentence ...
2
votes
4answers
8k views

Need to clarify use of “its” and “their”

I am having a debate at work regarding the correct choice: No investor has ever lost its capital. or No investor has ever lost their capital. It seems to sound awkward to say "its capital" as ...
2
votes
3answers
13k views

Is the singular “they” acceptable in formal writing? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is there a correct gender-neutral, singular pronoun (“his” versus “her” versus “their”)? I am linking to this post for reference. The ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Speaking about someone of unknown gender [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Gender neutral pronoun For example, user clicked the button. I don't know if the user is male or female, what gender should I use? Now I read a book, where the user is "she", ...
2
votes
1answer
30k views

“These stuff” vs. “this stuff” [closed]

I wrote “I know all these stuff; I don’t have to go over them again” in my writing-exam paper and the teacher corrected it to read, “I know all this stuff; I don’t have to go over it again.” The ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

subject-verb agreement for singular they [duplicate]

The singular-they is becoming trendy*, and I'm curious about conjugating the verbs for this pronoun. For example, instead of "Jim is over there," is it correct to say "They are over there," or "They ...
2
votes
1answer
653 views

Is the sentence “ask any doctor — they'll all tell you that alcohol is a poison” grammatically correct? [duplicate]

I am not a native speaker and I find the following sentence pretty confusing. Ask any doctor — they'll all tell you that alcohol is a poison. Here the speaker is referring to any doctor. Why is ...
2
votes
1answer
292 views

Should a noun following “singular they” be singular or plural?

I've understood how to use singular they on a single sentence, but the problem comes with articulated sentences like this one: If a person lies to you this way, they are probably thieves. My ...
2
votes
1answer
13k views

Anyone: (“they” or “he/she”) why is it sometimes plural? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is it correct to use “their” instead of “his or her”? Plural versus singular: Anyone can learn to dance if they want to. Anyone can learn to ...
2
votes
3answers
683 views

Use of they as singular [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is it correct to use “their” instead of “his or her”? I, and many people I have heard, occasionally use 'they' and 'their' in the singular when gender ...
2
votes
1answer
95 views

Singular “they” in 1954

During the June 13, 1954, episode of American television's What's My Line, the panel was blindfolded and had to identify the guests, Les Paul and Mary Ford, by asking a series of questions that the ...
2
votes
1answer
279 views

Gender neutral singular “they” in the first person singular [duplicate]

Can I use they in the following fashion when referring to oneself? [Name] is a Web Developer at [company Name]. They holds a B.S. in Computer Science. The emphasis here is when one tries to refer ...
2
votes
1answer
577 views

Which pronoun should I use when writing about a generic activity in a thesis?

I'm writing my Bachelor's thesis where I describe students' activities in a dormitory. A student produces with a valid ID or passport here and hands in an ID card photo. In case he/she has a ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Using 'they' for person of unknown sex [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Gender neutral pronoun. In everyday use, I often use the pronoun "they" to refer to a unknown person if I do not know their sex. As in: Bob: Who was it that emailed you ...
1
vote
2answers
3k views

Which pronoun should be used with “anyone”? “They” or “you”?

Sample sentence: If anyone has the files, could (they or you) please upload them to a file-hosting website? Context: I am writing an email to a group of people requesting that if anyone has the files ...
1
vote
1answer
470 views

TOEFL gerund vs infinitive question [closed]

While doing my TOEFL prep I encountered the following statement where I am asked to find which of the bold words is being used wrongly in the sentence: If one has a special medical condition such ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

Is/Are “SAP Data Services” singular or plural?

I have sentences with software products, such as SAP Business Objects and SAP Data Services. The first one is the name of the company and the name of the family of software applications. The second ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Why are “player”, “researcher” and “designer” referred to by a feminine gender specific pronoun? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Can the feminine pronouns be gender-neutral? Reason for the current trend to use "she" as the gender-neutral pronoun? In a lot of academic literature that I'm reading for ...