Singular They and the Pronoun Proposal

Person looking down at their shoes as they stand on wooden walkway over cloudy water.
Photo by Nicholas Kampouris on Unsplash
  • As early as 1977, the National Conference of Teachers of English proposed that their is preferable to his as a singular possessive pronoun.
  • The nineteenth century saw writers trying to coin alternatives for a [gender neutral pronoun].
  • Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, and T.S. Eliot all used they for purposes of gender neutrality or syntactic clarity.
  • This usage has occurred in every century of English language usage.
  • Even the most recent edition of Fowler’s Modern English Usage notes that the singular they is widely accepted and uncorrected by copy editors in publishing houses.




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