A Singular “They”? (A thought)

I just recently had a short discussion online about the use “they” as a singular pronoun. In English, there is no neuter singular pronoun to refer to a person an unknown gender. “It” is the closest we have, and nobody likes to be an “it”. While I understand how language changes over time, and words change in usage and meaning, it still seems… wrong.

Wikipedia has an article on it.  So does the Oxford Dictionary. I understand the need for a gender neutral nominative pronoun, but “they” isn’t grammatically correct as a singular pronoun. So, what’s the solution?

2 Comments

Filed under English, Grammar

2 responses to “A Singular “They”? (A thought)

  1. Language is so interesting. I’m a 50-year old English-speaking monoglot and have never realized that we use “they” in this way… but we do! Are you proposing a new word? I’ve had conversation with other writers about the written gender-neutral pronoun. I prefer “s/he” because it can be subvocalized — or read-over — easily. If this transfers to spoken language, the female singular pronoun will finally dominate our language!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was taught to use “He” if I didn’t know the gender. But since becoming a teacher and in this age of political correctness, I use h/she. Language is a funny thing, so expressive, and yet so limited too!

      Liked by 1 person

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