Re: Sexism and Pronouns

Subject: Re: Sexism and Pronouns
From: Paula R Berger <pberger -at- WORLD -dot- STD -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 1995 15:29:27 +0001

Marci Andrews wrote:

> I predict that "they" will evolve to mean the singular as
> well as the plural third person. Any other predictions out there?

"They" is already a commonly used term in *spoken* English for exactly
the reasons we've been discussing: it avoids the use of a gender-specific
pronoun. However, spoken English changes much more quickly than written
English, so I think we'll have to wait awhile to be able to use it in

When I teach technical writing classes, I always include an exercise on
rewriting gender-specific sentences (after offering 10 suggestions for
ways to change sentences). It's amazing how often the students prefer to
break the rules of grammar (as they stand now) and use "they," rather
than use one of the grammatically-correct methods of changing the sentence.
It's probably used more than 50% of the time, even when there's a
simpler, correct fix to the sentence.

Paula Berger
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