Posts Tagged ‘pronouns’

I was recently reading “Style – The Basics of Clarity and Grace” by Joseph M. Williams for an English class.  The author states using the word “he” as a generic pronoun could become a problem of biased language.  “Common sense demands that we not gratuitously offend reader, but if we reject he as a generic pronoun because it’s biased and they because some readers consider it ungrammatical, we are left with several bad choices.  We can try a first person we.  Some writers use one.  For years to come, we’ll have a problem with singular generic pronouns, and to some readers, any solution will be awkward.  I suspect that eventually we will accept the plural they as a correct singular.”  (p. 24- 25 – Style by Joseph M. Williams)

I don’t know how many times I have seen children’s magazines for parents with articles that use both he and she to describe a toddlers growth and so forth.  I just accept it because they are trying to write an article that encompasses both genders without using a they.   I have had instructors tell me to be more specific when I use a generic pronoun and it seems to help the story line.  Replacing a they with a different description helps too.  I don’t know if I agree totally with Williams about pronouns being biased.  I don’t get offended when I read articles that just use he.

So I guess the lesson here is seeing what works for you and your audience.


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