1. dillseed
    Offline

    dillseed Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Messages:
    390
    Likes Received:
    19

    Grammar Singular 'they/their'

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by dillseed, May 19, 2014.

    Do you support or frown upon the use of the singular 'they/their'?

    Should it not be used in formal correspondence? The use of 'he/she,' 'his/her' can become annoyingly cumbersome and unwieldy.

    Without rewording, would you frown upon these?

    Everyone at the meeting said they felt uncomfortable with the new CEO.

    Everybody was upset with their choices.

    Everyone returned to their seats.

    Somebody left their camera in the lobby.

    Thanks. :)
     
  2. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,936
    Likes Received:
    5,473
    I was torn about this usage until I learned that it's a very old usage--the prohibition of the singular "they" and the insistence on the generic "he" is relatively recent. (Where "relatively" is measured in centuries--it's less than two hundred years old.) Now I'm entirely in its favor, though that doesn't necessarily mean that I would use it in situations where someone's judgement of the correctness of my writing would have substantial consequences.
     
  3. dillseed
    Offline

    dillseed Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Messages:
    390
    Likes Received:
    19
    Thanks, ChickenFreak. :)
     
  4. dillseed
    Offline

    dillseed Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Messages:
    390
    Likes Received:
    19
    Although 'somebody' is singular and 'their' is plural, I think they sound good together.

    'Somebody left their camera in the lobby' sounds better than 'Somebody left his or her camera in the lobby.'

    There's no disputing this, IMO.
     
  5. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    More and more people are using the singular they, and I actually think it's considered accepted usage by some style guides. I don't mind when people use it. I sometimes use it myself, though I tend to use "he" instead.
     
  6. Kekec
    Offline

    Kekec Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2014
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Bosnia
    Yes, this is the only way to substitute writing he/she or his or hers every time.
     
  7. dillseed
    Offline

    dillseed Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Messages:
    390
    Likes Received:
    19
    Thank you. :)
     
  8. stevesh
    Offline

    stevesh Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2008
    Messages:
    968
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    Mid-Michigan USA
    I would use 'he' or 'his' when the unidentified subject is singular. It sounds wrong to me otherwise. Before I'm accused (again) of misogyny, my solution to the his/her thing is for the speaker or writer use his or her own gender. I would say, "A good plumber is worth his weight in gold." My sister would write, "A good plumber is worth her weight in gold." Since there are roughly as many men as women, it would average out.
     

Share This Page