Eight years ago, I struggled with the trend of using they as a singular pronoun. I understood the importance of respecting nonbinary people's choice of pronoun to express themselves, but the grammar snob inside me was not having it.
Over the past few years, several people I love chose to express themselves with they as a pronoun. So I went on a quest to get my writer's brain on board, and here is what I've learned.
English as a language has constantly been evolving throughout time. The singular "they" is becoming increasingly accepted as a gender-neutral pronoun, allowing people to refer to any individual without reference to their gender. Let's explore why the singular they is becoming more commonplace, what it means to those who use it, and how to incorporate it into daily conversations.
What is the singular they?
The singular they is a gender-neutral pronoun used to refer to a single person whose gender is unknown or does not matter in the context of a sentence. It is essential for creating a more inclusive language, as it allows us to refer to a person without making assumptions or guesses about their gender.
The singular they can take the place of he/she, him/her, and even (s)he in many contexts. For example, you might use the singular they when referring to a person whose gender is unknown or irrelevant: "The customer said they wanted more information."
The singular they is a valuable and vital tool for creating more inclusive language. As its usage continues to become more widespread, the singular they will become an increasingly important part of the English language.
Understanding the historical context of the singular they
It's important to understand the historical context of the singular they in order to appreciate why it matters today. The singular they has been used for centuries, as far back as the 16th century, when it was used by writers such as William Shakespeare in his plays. The singular they was also used by other famous authors such as Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. This shows that the singular they has been a part of the English language for a long time and is not a recent invention.
In recent years, there has been a push to use gender-neutral language, which has led to an increase in the use of the singular they. This is because it allows us to refer to someone without assuming their gender. This is especially important in situations where the gender of the person is unknown or when referring to someone who identifies as non-binary. Using the singular they shows respect for all genders and helps to create an inclusive environment.
Using this pronoun is not only a matter of respect for all genders, but also of recognizing its long history. By using the singular they, we are honoring the language of the past and showing respect for the identities of all people.
The importance of using the singular "they"
The importance of using the singular they cannot be overstated. It is a powerful tool for non-binary gender expression and more importantly, it allows for gender-neutral language in contexts where gender may be unknown or irrelevant. It is an integral part of creating an inclusive environment for all genders, regardless of how they identify.
Using the singular they is also incredibly easy. It can be used in used without changing the meaning or structure of a sentence. For example, instead of "he or she", you can simply use "they". This simple change can make a big difference in how people feel in your presence.
Moreover, by using the singular they, you are showing your commitment to creating an inclusive environment. When people feel accepted and affirmed in their identity, they are more likely to feel safe and comfortable. This is especially important in professional and academic settings, where language is often used to subtly communicate messages about identity and belonging.
Using the singular they is an important part of creating an inclusive environment for all genders. It is a simple change that can have a big impact, so make sure to start using it in your conversations today!
Examples of the singular they in use
By using the singular they, we can ensure that no one is excluded or marginalized, regardless of gender identity.
So how can we use the singular they correctly? Here are some examples of the singular they in everyday use:
"Everyone has their own opinion."
"Someone left their bag on the bus."
"Someone needs to take responsibility for their actions."
Using the singular they creates a more inclusive language that respects the gender identity of all individuals. It eliminates the need to guess at someone's gender and opens up conversations to everyone.
What's more, using the singular they has implications beyond language. It can help to create a more inclusive and diverse society, where everyone is respected and accepted. So let's start using the singular they today and help create a more equitable world for all. Everyone deserves to be seen and heard, regardless of gender identity.