1. Maxtina
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    Maxtina Banned

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    Everyone

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Maxtina, Oct 16, 2009.

    probably a ridiculous question, but which one of these two is correct?

    1) "Everyone does whatever they want"

    2) "Everyone does whatever he wants"

    I thinks it's the first one, but my college professor argued with me over the latter.
     
  2. seije
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    seije Member

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    the second one is correct. think of it as 'every one person does whatever he/she wants.'

    if that still seems confusing, just drop the 'every'. one does whatever he wants.
     
  3. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    But if the 'everyone' isn't gender specific, you can't just say "he". The Feminists would cry.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The second is correct. Political correctness aside, the masculine pronoun is still the standard for a person of unspecified gender.

    You could also say, "Everyone does whatever he or she wants." Just don't bring it to the attention of the radical feminists that the masculine pronoun still conventionally comes first.

    Language changes more slowly than social attitudes.
     
  5. dgraham
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    dgraham Senior Member

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    Actually... people have been using "they" as the non-gender-specific singular pronoun of choice since at least 600 years ago (see, for example, Chaucer, Lewis Carroll, Walt Whitman, George Eliot, Shakespeare, William Thackeray, Jane Austen, and Oscar Wilde).

    Anyway, you can just read this article.

    I'll admit it was the first I found, but, "singular he" is only the prescriptivist standard, not the actual usage standard. If you want a more in-depth discussion of the history and syntax of it, you can probably find one of the many articles available on Language Log very easily (see the bottom of the linked article).
     
  6. Sound of Silence
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    Sound of Silence Member

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    Functional V generative, prescriptive V descriptive... there's nowt more passionate (or bloodier) than language debate. Good article, hun.;)
     
  7. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    You can avoid the problem of sex, but then you sound like a robot.

    Everyone can do whatever one wants.
     
  8. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    Ugh. . yeah. .

    I prefer to say "he". If you're going to avoid the "he", you may as well spell "woman" as "womyn" and so on.

    I just write whatever sounds and looks right. And "their", as a singular, doesn't make sense to me, regardless of whether or not it's acceptable. . "He or she" is clutter. "S/he" is more efficient, but looks casual and lazy and still smacks of paranoia. Never forget: subtlety is key to PC.

    What, then, are we left with? Nothing good, really. . .
     
  9. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    The only option left is a battle of the sexes...only one can survive....for literary convenience...
     
  10. Mister Micawber
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    Mister Micawber Member

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    'They all do whatever they want' is a popular option for those who are queasy about 'they' as a singular pronoun.

    In certain situations, I also use 's/he'.
     

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