Re: use of he/she/they

Subject: Re: use of he/she/they
From: "Huber, Mike" <mrhuber -at- SOFTWARE -dot- ROCKWELL -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 12 Aug 1997 16:49:01 -0500

Well, yeah. Look at the content - the number is jerked around twice.
When each of us goes to our respective bosses they are, in fact, plural,
and the singular is a bit off to begin with. Then the number gets messed
with more.

Another problem - other than context, how do I know how many bosses?
Maybe we all report to the same person? Maybe you are referring to Eric.

So you fix the sentence up to make it clear, and (if you are talking
about Eric-I know you weren't but only because of the context) you get

"I think each of us should go to the boss and see what he thinks."

or (if you are saying what I think the context implies)

"I think each of us should go to our respective bosses and see what they

While I agree about writing the way you talk for first drafts and for
casual writing, it doesn't always work in technical or formal documents.

I have yet to *need* a pronoun other than "you" in documentation. It's
either "you" or some specific third person (usually "the operator" or
"the designer" or possibly, though I avoid it, "the user") or else I
look again and find I've been sloppy or vague. Having to deal with the
"he/she/them" problem is one of my self-editing red flags, like the
passive voice. More reliable than passive voice, actually.

Mike Huber
mike -dot- huber -at- software -dot- rockwell -dot- com

>-----Original Message-----
>From: Tim Covil [SMTP:covil_t -at- WIZTEC-USA -dot- COM]
>Sent: Tuesday, August 12, 1997 3:21 PM
>Subject: Re: use of he/she/they
>I think each of us should go to the boss and see what they think.
>See? It's AWFUL!
>>From: David Dvorkin[SMTP:dvorkin -at- BOLIX -dot- COM]
>>>But as we've discussed before, english is changing (rules are relaxing?)
>>>and some of those changes have to do with gender awareness.

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