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56 comments

[–] SecondSkin 16 points Edited

They is correct if we don’t know the sex of the person and it is colloquial language.

Formal language unisex or unknown sex should be she/he or he/she.

One and only grammar rule I managed to pick up during my honours MA in English Literature because every single professor battered it into all of us by hauling us up in front of the class for lazy language every time we used they to mean the gender neutral reader.

They in formal writing detracts from meaning very quickly. Try reading (or writing) a novel/essay/play or whatever, with a group scene using both they for plural and they for the unisex character/person. Meaning disappears almost instantly.

I am no grammar pedant but this bugs the fucking hell out of me, because kids will write as they speak. Communication should not be turned into nonsense.

Try reading (or writing) a novel/essay/play or whatever, with a group scene using both they for plural and they for the unisex character/person. Meaning disappears almost instantly.

It makes it almost completely unreadable. As soon as there's more than one person in the scene, it gets you into this "Huh? Who are we talking about now? The enby or both of them?" situation incredibly quickly. That might be the saving grace of literature: that serious authors realize it's more important to put out work that makes sense than including virtue-signalling nonsense.