Lawrence Creaghan

The Marvellous, Magical Singular “They”

They can be used as a third-person singular pronoun. Because it’s totally inclusive, it eliminates any risk of making potentially upsetting assumptions about someone’s gender.

While the singular they was once frowned on, its use is now widely accepted and encouraged by many sources, including:

• The Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary
• The American Dialect Society (2015 Word of the Year)
• The International Writing Centers Association
• The National Council of Teachers of English
• The New Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage
• The New Oxford American Dictionary
• The New Oxford Dictionary of English
• The Washington Post

• Use they as a generic third-person singular pronoun to refer to someone whose gender is unknown.
• Always use a person’s self-identified pronoun, especially when a person uses the singular they as their pronoun.
• Do not use “he” or “she” as third-person singular pronouns unless you know the actual gender of those being addressed.
• If you don’t know the pronoun of the person being addressed, reword your message without using a pronoun or use the singular they.
• Do not use hybrid formulations like “s/he.”

Holly, a Chinese documentary filmmaker in their late twenties, told me that they recently secured a U.K. visa. “The most important thing for me is freedom. The ability to choose, and to control things around me,” Holly said. In the past, they had misgivings about leaving China: “I felt guilty or ashamed. But after the lockdown, and after my friends were leaving, I was, like, ‘Well, sometimes we can just take care of ourselves.’” – The New Yorker, October 30, 2023

The IT Help Desk Technician is ultimately responsible for providing first-level technical support to internal and external users. They will need to have proven ability for operating in a dynamic and changing environment with a healthy aptitude for learning in a cloud-based environment where Microsoft 365 and Azure tools are used.

• A new teacher is coming to our school. They are here for an interview with the principal.
• We need a new manager for the store downtown. They will need to have some managerial experience to apply for the job.
• Find a babysitter who can prove they are responsible and certified in CPR.
• A new employee will not do a good job if you don’t give them the right training.
• Everyone should take their seats.
• Someone was just here, and they left their phone behind.
• Anyone can learn to ride a bike if they try.

Easy Guide to Canadian Spelling