Tag Archives: grammar

They As A Singular

During my winter semester I had a professor who insisted that we use “he” or “she” in our papers. He refused to accept “they” as singular. But “they” has been used as a singular in English for a long time. Writings from historical authors prove as much. Shakespeare and Jane Austin are just two of these authors.

It is true that “they” had lost favor as a singular for a while, but it is reemerging with the increased acceptance of the transgender community. Personally, I’m happy that it is coming back. “He” as an all encompassing term is, frankly, insulting. Why is it okay to assume that a woman is a man if you don’t know her gender but it’s considered wrong to assume that a man is a woman if you don’t know his gender? And “he/she” isn’t much better. For one, it’s more time consuming than “they” and, for another, it assumes that gender is binary. 

“They” is both more inclusive and more convenient. So why do so many people get up in arms over the use of “they” as a singular?

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