Singular They: Older than you Think

I had not realized that there was history about this issue–I’ve read some current articles on the use of the singular they.

Nicholas C. Rossis

Singular they | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books Image:

Elle Boca, a dear author friend of mine, went through my Beats manuscript with a fine comb (for which I can’t thank her enough).

Most of her comments I readily accepted. To my surprise, however, she repeatedly complained about my use of singular they, which she assumed were typos.

This prompted this post, as I’m curious to hear what you think.

What is Singular They?

Wikipedia defines singular they as the use in English of the pronoun they, or its inflected or derivative forms, such as them, their, themself, or themselves, as a gender-neutral pronoun to refer to a single person or an antecedent that is grammatically singular. It typically occurs with an antecedent of indeterminate gender, as in sentences such as:

  • Somebody left their umbrella in the office. Would they please collect it?”
  • The patient should be told at the outset how much they will…

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