A note about pronouns

It's just a fun fact, really, but I noticed the D&D Next playtest packages are first D&D products since Rules Cyclopedia (1991) and the original Unearthed Arcana (1985) to use "he or she". That's 21 years (1991-2012)! The rest of AD&D line and even D&D (Basic and d20) from 1992-2012 eschewed it in favor of "he", "he/she" (depending on context and provided example) or (in 4e) "you".

I agree with the decision, but if I may ask - why "he or she" and not e.g., "singular they"? I'm asking out of sheer curiosity.
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Sidenote: "a note about pronouns" was part of AD&D 2e handbooks; it "explained" why the rules are written only with male pronoun. If I'm not mistaken, it first appeared in AD&D 1e, in one of Survival Guides from 1985-1986.
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Edit: I stand corrected. The honor goes to 4th edition rulebooks, and the manner of using "you" referring in equal measure to player and the character is still in use in D&D Next playtest packages.
gender-neutral pronouns are a little trickier to use than "he or she".

i'm also a big fan of the decision to ditch the exclusive use of the male pronoun. the little sidebar in the 2e books didn't help at all with how exclusionary that book read. 
Singular "they" is still technically grammatically incorrect. "You" suffers from the implicit pushiness of 2nd person rhetoric. "One" is too formal.

English lacks a singular, gender-neutral, 3rd-person pronoun, so I usually recommend to students that they pluralize the entire mess when they can.

What I hope to see is a return to the play-examples which read like scripts that you could find scattered through the older rule books. Hilarious and useful both.
Singular "they" is still technically grammatically incorrect.

No, it is perfectly grammatically correct (feel free to check a dictionary or wikipedia). A lot of people have trouble grasping that, though, because it's not what they initially learned in elementary school. Similarly, a lot of people think that it's incorrect to split infinities or to end a sentence with a preposition.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
gender-neutral pronouns are a little trickier to use than "he or she".

it

Singular they is technically incorrect, but honestly it is the way we all talk and have for decades, by most definitions of language it is grammatically correct.
As Crimson points out, the singular they is grammatically correct. Actually, it preexists concerns about gender and comes into existence because of concerns about number. For example, “Whoever it is, they better speak up.”


The custom of referring to an indefinite person by the singular they is as old as the English language itself. The custom of referring to “he” for indefinite was mostly a recent fad.


“Generic he has been a preference in usage [since the 1800s], not a binding grammatical "rule", as Thackeray's use of both forms demonstrates. The alternative to the masculine generic with the longest and most distinguished history in English is the third-person plural pronoun. Recognized writers have used they, them, themselves, and their to refer to singular nouns such as one, a person, an individual, and each since the 1300s.”
The problem with “s/he” is, it reads as “she” and seems equally sexist.


Plural “they” seems the most natural answer, then switching to “one” when needing to specify a single individual.
Yes, Haldrik. That was part of the joke.
I prefer the 3e style with names. Be nice if they introduced them first. Could use the party from the cartoon.
 This is not because im a male chauvinist only based on purely empirical evidence among anyone I know:

 I would prefer they used "she" across the board. I have never met a man who cared, but met a lot of women having a small rage at the grave injustice of using "he". So why not just give in? (Is it  too obvious that Im married?)
Ne

It's halfway between he and she and is only 2 letters. Imagine all the saved ink.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!





Funny stuff. Hope it doesn't get reported.

My vote is for "it."   I wouldn't mind heshe for subjective and herhis for possesive and himher 1/2 the time and herhim for objective 1/2 the time but I can hear the complaints already.
S/He reads clumsily.  He/She is even worse.

The best way to tackle the situation is to set up gender usage from the begining, that way it doesn't sound awkward or forced.  When you initially talk about the ranger class, make it a she.  When you initially talk about the sorcerer class make it a he.  Distribute equally.  This way it seems as both genders are enjoying the game, and both can be whatever they wish to be.

Once the combat examples or skill examples begin, simply refer back to those same characters.  "The paladin from our class is example is about to choose her background.  She often wanted to play a character that grew up from an impoverished family, and slowly, through the church's help, made her way toward nobility."   
S/He reads clumsily.  He/She is even worse.

The best way to tackle the situation is to set up gender usage from the begining, that way it doesn't sound awkward or forced.  When you initially talk about the ranger class, make it a she.  When you initially talk about the sorcerer class make it a he.  Distribute equally.  This way it seems as both genders are enjoying the game, and both can be whatever they wish to be.

Once the combat examples or skill examples begin, simply refer back to those same characters.  "The paladin from our class is example is about to choose her background.  She often wanted to play a character that grew up from an impoverished family, and slowly, through the church's help, made her way toward nobility."   



Hmm, what happens when she is the wizard and he is the fighter. We all know wizards are worth more...  How's that fair?!?
S/He reads clumsily.  He/She is even worse.

The best way to tackle the situation is to set up gender usage from the begining, that way it doesn't sound awkward or forced.  When you initially talk about the ranger class, make it a she.  When you initially talk about the sorcerer class make it a he.  Distribute equally.  This way it seems as both genders are enjoying the game, and both can be whatever they wish to be.

Once the combat examples or skill examples begin, simply refer back to those same characters.  "The paladin from our class is example is about to choose her background.  She often wanted to play a character that grew up from an impoverished family, and slowly, through the church's help, made her way toward nobility."   



Hmm, what happens when she is the wizard and he is the fighter. We all know wizards are worth more...  How's that fair?!?



It is fair.  You distribute evenly.  Do you really think someone reading a 300 page rulebook doesn't have the intelligence to distinguish between a character generated example and a rule?
Singular "they" vs. generic "he" is one of those common usage vs. snooty academic usage debates, one that has been raging for centuries.

From Wikipedia: "In the 19th century, grammarians in England petitioned the British Parliament to declare gender-indeterminate pronouns as 'he' rather than 'they', which was common usage at the time."

If I happen to meet a 19th century grammarian, and they object to my usage, I'll gladly thumb my nose at them.

"I want 'punch magic in the face' to be a maneuver." -- wrecan

Please note that while Wikipedia is a useful source, if you are actually writing, whether for a term paper or a book to be published, your audience will probably think the 'singular they' is ungrammatical. Even the Wiki source some posters here are citing notes that style manuals such as the Chicago Manual of Style consider the singular they to be incorrect:

"A singular antecedent requires a singular referent pronoun. Because he is no longer accepted as a generic pronoun referring to a person of either sex, it has become common in speech and in informal writing to substitute the third-person plural pronouns they, them, their, and themselves, and the nonstandard singular themself. While this usage is accepted in casual contexts, it is still considered ungrammatical in formal writing. . . "

The singular they is generally inferior to a singular pronoun. As one website noted, consider the sentence, 'Many professors make every student buy their own books.' To what does the 'they' here refer? To the professor or to the students? This is one of the reasons why many people still reject the singular they.

Speaking as a university professor, I can say that most professors still consider the 'singular they' to be an error. Do not use it on your resume, and do not write it in your term papers or manuscripts that you hope to get published. Avoid using it in your speech if you are presenting at a board meeting or in front of your class. It still sounds incorrect to many of us, regardless of whether or not you may think the historical argument has any merit. You may be right that there is nothing wrong with a 'singular they'... but you also need to realize that what counts is what your audience thinks, especially if you are interviewing for a job or trying to get a manuscript published. If you want to sound educated, avoid the singular they.

 

"What is the sort of thing that I do care about is a failure to seriously evaluate what does and doesn't work in favor of a sort of cargo cult posturing. And yes, it's painful to read design notes columns that are all just "So D&D 3.5 sort of had these problems. We know people have some issues with them. What a puzzler! But we think we have a solution in the form of X", where X is sort of a half-baked version of an idea that 4e executed perfectly well and which worked fine." - Lesp

Please note that while Wikipedia is a useful source, if you are actually writing, whether for a term paper or a book to be published, your audience will probably think the 'singular they' is ungrammatical. Even the Wiki source some posters here are citing notes that style manuals such as the Chicago Manual of Style consider the singular they to be incorrect:

"A singular antecedent requires a singular referent pronoun. Because he is no longer accepted as a generic pronoun referring to a person of either sex, it has become common in speech and in informal writing to substitute the third-person plural pronouns they, them, their, and themselves, and the nonstandard singular themself. While this usage is accepted in casual contexts, it is still considered ungrammatical in formal writing. . . "

The singular they is generally inferior to a singular pronoun. As one website noted, consider the sentence, 'Many professors make every student buy their own books.' To what does the 'they' here refer? To the professor or to the students? This is one of the reasons why many people still reject the singular they.

Speaking as a university professor, I can say that most professors still consider the 'singular they' to be an error. Do not use it on your resume, and do not write it in your term papers or manuscripts that you hope to get published. Avoid using it in your speech if you are presenting at a board meeting or in front of your class. It still sounds incorrect to many of us, regardless of whether or not you may think the historical argument has any merit. You may be right that there is nothing wrong with a 'singular they'... but you also need to realize that what counts is what your audience thinks, especially if you are interviewing for a job or trying to get a manuscript published. If you want to sound educated, avoid the singular they.


Heh, the word “themself” even exists in the 1400s. It is fine grammatically - and always has been.

A *style* is just that: a style. Not a rule.

Trying to force the English language to fit prescriptive artificial grammatical constructs - such as using masculine he as if gender indefinite, forcing subject verb agreement, or never end a sentence with a preposition - these unnatural conceits, are themselves the problematic.


Trying to force the English language to fit prescriptive artificial grammatical constructs - such as using masculine he as if gender indefinite, forcing subject verb agreement, or never end a sentence with a preposition - these unnatural conceits, are themselves the error.




You might be correct... but do you really want to fail a job interview or kill your chances of getting your manuscript published just to make a point of principle?

  

 

"What is the sort of thing that I do care about is a failure to seriously evaluate what does and doesn't work in favor of a sort of cargo cult posturing. And yes, it's painful to read design notes columns that are all just "So D&D 3.5 sort of had these problems. We know people have some issues with them. What a puzzler! But we think we have a solution in the form of X", where X is sort of a half-baked version of an idea that 4e executed perfectly well and which worked fine." - Lesp

If the employer cares about grammar, being able to explain why you use the grammar that you do, is probably more impressive.

For example, I intentionally dont use the apostrophe. (Not “don't”.) I consider it obsolete, especially because it interferes often with computer usage.
If the employer cares about grammar, being able to explain why you use the grammar that you do, is probably more impressive.



And you find that they usually give you the opportunity to explain your grammar usage during the interview?

 

"What is the sort of thing that I do care about is a failure to seriously evaluate what does and doesn't work in favor of a sort of cargo cult posturing. And yes, it's painful to read design notes columns that are all just "So D&D 3.5 sort of had these problems. We know people have some issues with them. What a puzzler! But we think we have a solution in the form of X", where X is sort of a half-baked version of an idea that 4e executed perfectly well and which worked fine." - Lesp

Well, anyone who cares about grammar is familiar with the school of thought that promotes the singular they.

Sometimes if there is uncertainty, a footnote informs the reader the form is intentional.
Yes, Haldrik. That was part of the joke.

 

“I used ‘he’ in a sentence. Will s/he ever forgive me?”
 
Heh, I totally missed that joke. I assumed the humor was simply mean-spirited sarcasm. I missed the fact the humor was self-effacingly ironic.
Well, anyone who cares about grammar is familiar with the school of thought that promotes the singular they.



'Familiar with' and 'agrees with' are two very different things. 

Sometimes if there is uncertainty, a footnote informs the reader the form is intentional.



Sometimes, perhaps. Other times there is no opportunity. You usually can't stop a board meeting to give an excursus on the history of the 'singular they'. I would also suggest that you usually don't want to take time out of a job interview to explain Thackeray's usage of pronouns.

Do you think it likely that the people in the audience who have been taught that the 'singular they' is an error will take the time to look up the history of the usage and familiarize themselves with each side of the debate, or do you think it more likely that they will simply think you made a grammatical error?

I'm not trying to argue that proponents of the 'singular they' are wrong. I'm just noting that many people (including many of the people who will hold your fate in their hands) consider it wrong. Consequently, if you want to avoid the possibility of suffering, then you should not use it.   


  

 

"What is the sort of thing that I do care about is a failure to seriously evaluate what does and doesn't work in favor of a sort of cargo cult posturing. And yes, it's painful to read design notes columns that are all just "So D&D 3.5 sort of had these problems. We know people have some issues with them. What a puzzler! But we think we have a solution in the form of X", where X is sort of a half-baked version of an idea that 4e executed perfectly well and which worked fine." - Lesp

if you are actually writing, whether for a term paper or a book to be published, your audience will probably think the 'singular they' is ungrammatical.

The vast majority of people, while under the misinterpretation that it is incorrect, actually don't notice because its usage is so widespread. This is one of those things that people only think is incorrect when they're actually talking about it. It's funny, I took a professional editing class once, and at the beginning of one class we all edited this same document. Later on in the class, we were discussing singular they, with the majority of the class against it, but then the professor referred back to the document that we edited at the beginning of class; it turned out that it had made consistent use of the singular they and nobody had marked it wrong because nobody had noticed.

Even the Wiki source some posters here are citing notes that style manuals such as the Chicago Manual of Style consider the singular they to be incorrect:

And the Chicago Manual of Style would be mistaken.

The singular they is generally inferior to a singular pronoun. As one website noted, consider the sentence, 'Many professors make every student buy their own books.' To what does the 'they' here refer? To the professor or to the students? This is one of the reasons why many people still reject the singular they.

No, that is a problem that every existing pronoun has. For example:
"Mark let Tim know that he had been at the movies when the robbery took place."
Without further context, it's impossible to know whether "he" refers to Mark or Tim.

Speaking as a university professor, I can say that most professors still consider the 'singular they' to be an error.

Most say that in theory but then don't actually notice in practice. If a professor deducts points for it, then they were clearly out to get you to begin with.

If you want to sound educated, avoid the singular they.

It's actually quite the opposite. Knowing better than to use he as singular is what makes one sound educated.

If the employer cares about grammar, being able to explain why you use the grammar that you do, is probably more impressive.
For example, I intentionally dont use the apostrophe. (Not “don't”.) I consider it obsolete, especially because it interferes often with computer usage.

Bingo!
If I may offer another example, I don't feel it necessary to use any comma before or after a quotation and won't put ending punctuation inside of quotes unless that punctuation is actually part of the quote, and even then I will follow up with actual punctuation. Example:
She asked "Are you going to the mall?".

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Most literate educated people use singular they.

The singular they is both more “normal” - and more “elite”.

Very few people are going to force people to not use indefinite language - and if they do, you probably dont want to work for them anyway, or even shop there, or do any business with them.
I think it is a very good thing that Crimson and Hal are not writing the rulebook.  If you can't take the time to place in an apostrophe or comma, well, I don't even know how to respond to that.  Grammar changes.  Words change.  But until they do in my dictionary, rules are rules. 

As for they sounding more elite, that is just so very wrong.  Try as you might, we'll definitely see two seperate sides on this one. 


And the Chicago Manual of Style would be mistaken.



And yet, it remains the standard. In fields like my own (history), it literally defines what is acceptable and unacceptable usage. You may disagree with the usage, but you can't disagree with the fact that the Chicago Manual is the standard manual.   
 


 

"What is the sort of thing that I do care about is a failure to seriously evaluate what does and doesn't work in favor of a sort of cargo cult posturing. And yes, it's painful to read design notes columns that are all just "So D&D 3.5 sort of had these problems. We know people have some issues with them. What a puzzler! But we think we have a solution in the form of X", where X is sort of a half-baked version of an idea that 4e executed perfectly well and which worked fine." - Lesp

Most literate educated people use singular they.



No, they most certainly do not. 

The singular they is both more “normal” - and more “elite”.



Again, I can assure you this is not the case. Note, for example, the outcry when the Chicago Manual adopted a neutral stance.

Very few people are going to force people to not use indefinite language - and if they do, you probably dont want to work for them anyway, or even shop there, or do any business with them.



Again, I think you are really being misleading to the people who are reading this thread. How do you know where they want to work, or shop, or do business? Doesn't your conscience bother you when you realize that you may actually be hurting these people's chances of getting a job?

It is actually quite simple. There are two usages: one involves the 'singular they', the other does not. The latter is universally accepted, the former is not. So which one do you think it is better to use when you are trying to get a publisher to print your manuscript, or when you are trying to get a job?  

 

"What is the sort of thing that I do care about is a failure to seriously evaluate what does and doesn't work in favor of a sort of cargo cult posturing. And yes, it's painful to read design notes columns that are all just "So D&D 3.5 sort of had these problems. We know people have some issues with them. What a puzzler! But we think we have a solution in the form of X", where X is sort of a half-baked version of an idea that 4e executed perfectly well and which worked fine." - Lesp

I think it is a very good thing that Crimson and Hal are not writing the rulebook.  If you can't take the time to place in an apostrophe or comma, well, I don't even know how to respond to that.  Grammar changes.  Words change.  But until they do in my dictionary, rules are rules. 

As for they sounding more elite, that is just so very wrong.  Try as you might, we'll definitely see two seperate sides on this one. 


Ironically, the ones trying to misuse “he” as if gender indefinite, are the ones who are literally “elite”, lawyers trying to push this unnatural usage into law.

Today, the “elites” prefer descriptive natural usage.

The singular they is the normal natural usage, since as long as English existed.
rules are rules.

Actually, no. See, that's probably the biggest misunderstanding of grammar out there, that there's only one right answer and that the rules aren't open for debate. If you can't explain why you precede a quote with a comma but I can explain why I don't, then I am more in the right.

You may disagree with the usage, but you can't disagree with the fact that the Chicago Manual is the standard manual.

Of course, but that doesn't mean that it can't be wrong. There's probably little way for this not to sound condescending, but you can tell what level people are at in a conversation depending on how they refer to sources of authority. There are some people that just cite the source and have that be the end of their argument; but then there are the people on a higher level that will actually question and critique the authoritative source (or, to be fair on the other side, who can actually explain why the authoritative source says what it does rather than just repeating it). That the Chicago Manual of Style says this, despite being a source of authority on the subject to many, does not sway me because my level of understanding of the subject is such that I'm questioning and critiquing rather than just accepting.

It is actually quite simple. There are two usages: one involves the 'singular they', the other does not. The latter is universally accepted, the former is not.

You overstate this. First of all, the latter is not universally accepted and is becoming increasingly unacceptable because using "he" as gender-neutral is becoming more widely recognized as sexist. Second of all, the former, while not universally accepted, is increasing in acceptance, and that's not even getting into the fact that most people who say they consider it unacceptable when asked don't actually notice in practice.
So, you're concerned about getting a job or getting published? Then demonstrate that you're ahead of the times. If you have no idea what your potential employer or publisher would prefer, the singular they or the gender-neutral he, then would you rather take the chance that they think you made a grammatical error or that you're sexist?

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Slightly off-topic but along with the finer points of English diction: I saw an awesome teeshirt. LOL.
 
“When people use the word 'literally' wrong,
it figuratively drives me insane.”
“When people use the word 'literally' wrong,
it figuratively drives me insane.”

That used to bug me a lot, but then I called somebody out on it, and they said "I'm using 'literally' figuratively." and now I'm okay with it because that's funny.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
So, you're concerned about getting a job or getting published? Then demonstrate that you're ahead of the times.

Besides, your potential employer is just as likely to be female, who probably will notice - and appreciate - or at least understand the need for the singular they.

I'd kill for pronouns that are defined as referring to subject, direct object, etc.

I'd literally kill for them.
Most literate educated people use singular they.



No, they most certainly do not.

In universities, they most certainly do. Similarly, in the scientific literature that I read, they use singular they.

The singular they is so natural, when people use it, readers often dont notice the shift in number. They naturally understand the reference is to an indefinite person or an indefinite number of persons.
I'd kill for pronouns that are defined as referring to subject, direct object, etc.

I'd literally kill for them.

Im unsure about the point here.

The term “they” is the subject. The term “them” is the object.

Grammar is much like DDN. It's modular and mostly optional. For example, I have never once not been hired because of how I wrote or how I spoke. Why?  Because, in most fields if you are somewhat intelligble that is fine enough. This he, she, it, they, them, yous, yall stull is fascinating in the same way people who mispronounce Uranus and harass are. It's a solution looking for a problem.
Regarding professional writing, I have always been trained to use the APA.



Here is what the APA recommends:



Avoid Gendered Pronouns

While you should always be clear about the sex identity of your participants (if you conducted an experiment), so that gender differences are obvious, you should not use gender terms when they aren't necessary. In other words, you should not use "he," "his" or "men" as generic terms applying to both sexes.


APA does not recommend replacing "he" with "he or she," "she or he," "he/she," "(s)he," "s/he," or alternating between "he" and "she" because these substitutions are awkward and can distract the reader from the point you are trying to make. The pronouns "he" or "she" inevitably cause the reader to think of only that gender, which may not be what you intend.


To avoid the bias of using gendered pronouns:



  • Rephrase the sentence

  • Use plural nouns or plural pronouns - this way you can use "they" or "their"

  • Replace the pronoun with an article - instead of "his," use "the"

  • Drop the pronoun - many sentences sound fine if you just omit the troublesome "his" from the sentence

  • Replace the pronoun with a noun such as "person," "individual," "child," "researcher," etc.






So, I always use “they” when speaking indefinitely.
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