Last week I published a post that has garnered a lot of attention — some positive, some not so much. But everyone had something to say about the reality of using a plural pronoun in a sentence that has no clear gender identification of the subject.
Yes, I’m a dinosaur, trying not to become irrelevant with this topic. Yes, I’ll still try my darnedest to not use those three pronouns listed above when I’m unsure or unclear about the appropriate gender.
There is one time when writers must not use those pronouns — they, their, them — in a sentence.
When the writer knows the gender of the singular subject!
Here’s the type of writing that makes me want to tear my hair out (and I really don’t have enough to spare):
- Every boy ran their race well.
- Each mother should pick up their child after school.
- Every girl was able to jump higher than they could before!
- Each dad held their kids in their arms during the performance.
Since when are mothers or girls not female?
Since when are dads or boys not male?
Gentle readers — when you KNOW absolutely, positively that the singular subject of your sentence is either male or female, you must use the appropriate pronoun. That’s what he, she, his, her, hers were created for, after all.
So let’s rewrite those sentences using the correct and appropriate singular gender-specific pronoun.
- Every boy ran his race well.
- Each mother should pick up her child after school.
- Every girl was able to jump higher than she could before!
- Each dad held his kids in his arms during the performance.
I hope you can see the sense of writing this way!