43 votes

Why does English use singular they instead of making up a new word for this?

People have created new gender-neutral pronouns. They are known as neopronouns. (A good list of currently used ones can be found on Wikipedia.) Furthermore, the move to create gender-neutral pronouns ...
Laurel's user avatar
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38 votes
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The pronoun for "many a language"

Neither of those sounds correct to me. Many a is a rather unusual construction: as you know, it takes a singular verb because each individual of the "many" acts or is acted on one at a time. ...
1006a's user avatar
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38 votes
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"Royal we" agreement

It's certainly not standard to use phrases like "we are hypocrites" to mean "I (royalty) am a hypocrite". Quite simply, in English (as well as in French), the "honorific" type of "plural" pronouns do ...
herisson's user avatar
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29 votes

Is "one" unnecessary in this quote of Melville?

Here, one serves as a pronoun whose antecedent is classification. Here’s a simple example: Which bag would you like? I’d like the blue one, please. Adding a comma between the descriptor and the ...
Lawrence's user avatar
  • 38.5k
29 votes

Can you write "... me's" (the possessive)?

"The person behind me's breathing" is called a "group genitive". Grammarian Richard Nordquist states in his introduction to the topic on ThoughtCo: In English grammar, the group ...
Shoe's user avatar
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27 votes

Did King Charles III use the pronoun "myself" correctly?

This usage is explained in CoGEL (A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language). (CoGEL § 6.27 Optional reflexive pronoun The basic reflexive pronoun is sometimes optional, in the sense that it ...
LPH's user avatar
  • 20k
25 votes

-sen for -self in English: history and usage

It appears to be a dialectal variant from East Midlands where: Reflexive pronouns are characterized by the replacement of "self" with sen (from Middle English seluen): Y'usen – Yourself, ...
user 66974's user avatar
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24 votes

"...will divide the people (who/whom) most need to be brought together"

Because the subject of who most need is simply who, you have to use With a two-party system, our nation will divide the people who most need to be brought together. If you want a whom example, try ...
tchrist's user avatar
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23 votes
Accepted

"One can do his homework in the library"

In my opinion, using one in this sense is grammatical but awkward. I don't think it is entirely a matter of formality or that the usage has fallen out of practice (although, comparing one can, he can, ...
Benjamin Kuykendall's user avatar
23 votes
Accepted

Why does second person only have 'you' whereas first person has "I" and "me"?

The simplest explanation is that in Middle English the unstressed forms "ye" (subject) and "you" (object) were both pronounced the same, /jə/. This led to confusion as to how they ...
Stuart F's user avatar
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21 votes
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Is the signature of a letter a subject or an object?

The default pronoun to use in English is the objective case. See this EL&U.SE answer. For example, if you were to label a picture, you would label it "me at the beach in 2011" and not "I at the ...
Peter Shor 's user avatar
21 votes

Is "one" unnecessary in this quote of Melville?

One is a pronoun, referring to the classification. It's the center of the noun clause “an easy outline one”, in which both easy and outline qualify one. While older grammars classify one as a pronoun, ...
Gilles 'SO- stop being evil''s user avatar
20 votes
Accepted

The film [that/which] I selected for viewing

The Original Poster's Question The film that I chose for the class to watch is called The Life of Igor. The film which I chose for the class to watch is called The Life of Igor. Both that ...
Araucaria - Him's user avatar
20 votes
Accepted

Choice of “it” versus “he/she”

In a comment John Lawler wrote: It's my aunt at the door is grammatical, and therefore so is it's my aunt. The it is a dummy and doesn't refer to your aunt.
19 votes

Why does English use singular they instead of making up a new word for this?

Mostly, because they already have singular they. It's been in the language since the 14th century. Prior to that, there was generic he, which continued to also be used until the 20th century and is ...
Jon Hanna's user avatar
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19 votes
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Is "Who art" correct?

Yes, "thou (...) who art" or "thee (...) who art" are correct. I wasn't sure from the title whether you were asking about relative pronouns or interrogative pronouns, so I will discuss both in my ...
herisson's user avatar
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16 votes

Why did "ich" change to "I"?

The transition from "ic/ich" to "I" did not happen all of a sudden; as the quoted Etymonline entry indicates, both forms coexisted for a period of time (and "ich"-like ...
herisson's user avatar
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16 votes

"I showed the monkey himself in the mirror". Why is this sentence grammatical?

tl;dr – Short answer Your example is grammatical because the reflexive pronoun has an antecedent (a noun phrase with which it is coreferential) and both are complements of the same verb. The ...
Janus Bahs Jacquet's user avatar
16 votes

Did King Charles III use the pronoun "myself" correctly?

The Oxford English Dictionary has many examples of "myself" used like this. I searched only for "and myself". Examples: 1904 W. B. Yeats Let. 16 Apr. (1994) III. 582 Miss ...
GEdgar's user avatar
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15 votes

Pronoun: one vs it

In the sentence Learning a language as a child seems to involve no effort, but learning it as an adult requires a lot of time and effort. a language has been mentioned in the gerund clause, so it ...
deadrat's user avatar
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15 votes
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What's the origin of the second-person 'we'?

This is often called the "patronizing we", among other names (see this answer of mine for more details on its names). According to the Oxford English Dictionary's page for "we" (pron., n., and adj.), ...
Laurel's user avatar
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15 votes
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Why do people use all 3 components in their gender pronouns?

People who have gender identities that conform to their biological sex (oft referred to as "cisgendered") can show solidarity with the trans community by offering our own pronouns whenever ...
Dallium's user avatar
  • 382
14 votes
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It was he ... / It was him

Strictly speaking, proper grammar requires subject pronouns be used when they rename the subject. So the subject pronoun "he" follows the verb "to be" as follows: It is he. This is she speaking. It ...
Benjamin Harman's user avatar
14 votes

Alternatives to y'all?

According to dialect maps created in 2013 by Joshua Katz, the majority of people in the Chicago area report that they usually use "you guys" to "describe groups of two or more". In ...
Laurel's user avatar
  • 66.1k
13 votes

Did noted 17th century poet Katherine Philips make a grammatical error?

At the time Philips wrote the poem, around the middle of the 17th century, the use of 'I' as the object of a verb or preposition was (sometimes) considered grammatical. As noted in the entry under I, ...
JEL's user avatar
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13 votes

"One can do his homework in the library"

These days, one seldom uses the subject "one", meaning the impersonal "one", though one generally still understands when others use it. It sounds stilted and old-fashioned. It's too bad that it has ...
Greg Lee's user avatar
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13 votes
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Usage of "you" in scientific papers

In particularly formal writing, the pronoun "one" would likely be preferred over either "we" or "you" in situations like this. As Cambridge states, "one" is ...
alphabet's user avatar
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12 votes
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What to do when "it" is redundant?

You do not need to use full sentences when writing definitions. The implied subject is the term which is being defined, and the implied verb is an expression of equivalency (generally the verb is ...
Tony DiRienzo's user avatar
12 votes

Why does English use singular they instead of making up a new word for this?

Because creating a new closed-class word is a hugely invasive change to people's way of speaking. It's much more drastic than creating a new noun (euphemism) for an old (derogatory) noun. The ...
Kilian Foth's user avatar

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