Thursday, November 23, 2006


OK, I must speak to this. It's been bugging me for months, ever since I learned better.

When you're referring to a non-gender specific individual, the correct pronoun usage is "he/she." To say "they" when trying to avoid using a generic pronoun (now that everybody is afraid of "he") is ridiculous, and indicates a plurality where there is none.

Example: "If anybody wants to go to the park, they should should sign the permission form first." Sounds right? Wrong. "...he or she should sign the permission form first" is the appropriate way to say this.

You may now consider yourself smarter.

Next week: "They're, There, and Their: Why The Confusion?"


  1. If I have ever done this I am sure it is only a venial sin and I hope you can forgive me.

  2. You might need to rally against significant works in the history of English literature, specifically the translators of the King James Bible... perhaps not "the" inspired word of God among Catholics, but still a sign of acceptable usage in the 1600s. Read the follow up for a more direct rebuking of the "singular they" is evil myth by a linguist.

    As an example:

    I doubt the person who abhors the singular "they" would actually find himself or herself using his or her own rule in practice.

    If he or she actually thought about it, he or she would probably find that his or her own rule sounded fairly awkward, even to his or herself.

    As opposed to:

    I doubt the person who abhors the singular "they" would actually find themselves using their own rule in practice.

    If they actually thought about it, they would probably find that their own rule sounded fairly awkward, even to themselves.

  3. Its a shame people don't take they're grammar more seriously. CLANG CLANG SCREECH

  4. Hmm... I get the feeling some of you are purposefully pushing my buttons. >:<

    The problem here, Jonathan, lies in the fact that we've made the gender-netural "he" (and also "man") extinct in our language for artificial political reasons, thus requiring either excessively awkward bastardization of the only alternative, or plainly incorrect grammar.

    You may not be surprised to learn that I'm obsessive enough that I now catch myself before I use "they" in this manner.


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