Re: pronouns and portfolios

Subject: Re: pronouns and portfolios
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 06 Apr 2001 10:50:32 -0700

jhamilton%XN_TECHNOLOGIES -at- xn-tech -dot- com wrote:
> I'm a student (and a tech writer intern), and we had a discussion about
> this in a grammar class where the teacher said using "they" as a pronoun
> for an unidentified someone may eventually become common usage.
> Personally, I think it's a great way to overcome the "s/he" conundrum,
> although I avoid it in my papers. What do you think?

I've got news for your teacher: "they" has been used in this way for
at least a thousand years. It's commonplace in both speech and

Of course, some people will say that it's unacceptable to use a
plural pronoun for a singular subject. However, what these people
don't understand is that, if it becomes generally used, it becomes a
singular subject. The situation is as simple as that.

Language, I'm glad to say, continues to defy the people who want to
put everything into labelled boxes. If the grammatical pedants ever
have their way, the language will be much less interesting. I hope
that English remains its own unruly self for centuries to come.

Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com

"We did it ! And everything else as well,
We're all Libyan students from hell."
- Attila the Stockbroker, "Libyan Students from Hell"


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