|SINGULAR – GENDER STATED||PLURAL – GENDER NOT STATED|
Formally, a singular possessive pronoun is used with a singular personal noun such as anyone, everyone, each person, a baby, a chid, a person (an indefinite pronoun that does not specify gender.) Use formal agreement for business and academic English.
Informally, and mostly in speech, a plural possessive pronoun is often heard together with a singular personal noun such as anyone, everyone, each person, a baby, a chid, a person (an indefinite pronoun that does not specify gender.)
Everyone had his picture taken.
Everyone had his or her picture taken. (disjunctive coordination)
Everyone had her picture taken.
Everyone had his/her picture taken. (composite forms– s/he)
Everyone had their picture taken. ("singular they")
CaGEL "Purportedly, sex-neutral he" 17.2.4 (a)
— "Purportedly, sex-neutral she" 17.2.4 (b)
— "Disjunctive Coordination" [he or she] 17.2.4 (c)
— "Composite Forms" [(s)he, s/he] 17.2.4 (d)
— "Singular they" 17.2.4(e)
A gender neutral pronoun means that a pronoun is not masculine-only or feminine-only.
In formal English, we use the pronoun his to refer to a male or a female. However, some speakers and writers feel that his does not reflect modern attitudes toward gender equity. "Attempts to invent pronouns for this purpose date back at least to 1850." (Williams)
"The issue is unresolved, but it begins to look as if the use of an indefinite third person singular is not passing unnoticed by standard speakers (except those trained in grammar) and is being left unaltered by copy editors. (Fowler 776)
"As most commentators note, the traditional pronoun for each of these cases is the masculine third person singular, he, his, him. This tradition goes back to the 18th century grammarians, who boxed themselves into the position by first deciding that the indefinite pronouns must always be singular. They then had to decide between the masculine and feminine pronouns for use in reference to the indefinites, and they chose the masculine (they were of course, all men). (Merriam-Webster 902)
Speakers and writers apply different strategies to deal with the problem. Some avoid the problem by rephrasing (using passive voice), others use both his and her, and others use the plural form – their. (CaGEL 494-5)
Bodine, Anne. "Androcentrism in prescriptive grammar: singular ‘they’, sex-indefinite ‘he’, and ‘he or she." Language in Society (1975), 4 : 129-146 Cambridge University Press < Link >
Huddleston, Rodney and Geoffrey K. Pullum. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (CaGEL) . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Print. 17.2.4 (p. 490)
Lakoff, Robin. Language and Woman's Place. Oxford University Press. 1975. p. 70 -71. Print < Link >
Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1994.Print. (p. 902)
Williams, John (1990s). "History — Modern Neologism". Gender-Neutral Pronoun FAQ. 30 April, 2004. Web.< http://www.aetherlumina.com/gnp/history.html#net >7 July 2011.
†"Gender Neutral Pronoun." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 10 June 2011. Web. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender-neutral_pronoun > 6 July 2011
"Singular They." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 7 July 201a. Web.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they
Read the paragraph about a basketball summer camp. The writer wants to encourage both boys and girls to attend. However, the paragraph has pronoun agreement problems.
Basketball Camp: More Than Champions
Our camp provides a service to help everyone reach their potential. Our goal is for each camper to work hard and feel good about themselves in a safe, disciplined, highly structured and motivated environment of learning and fun. We place every child and their personal development ahead of the game.
Every one of our children gets positive encouragement to improve their fundamental skills. Players also learn sportsmanship while working with their team to win. By the end of the camp session, every child will get their certificate. Every child will have enjoyed his basketball camp program.
day-camp (n.) – a place where children can go in the day during the school holidays to do sports, art etc
certificate (n.) – an official paper stating completion of a course, study or exam
champions (n.) – winners of a competitiondevelopment (n.) – the process of becoming bigger, better, stronger, or more advanced
disciplined (adj.) – obeying rules and controlling beha
encouragement (adj.) – giving a person confidence to do something
environment (n.) – the people and things that are around the person, the general situation and feeling one has in the place
fundamentals (n.) – the most important ideas, rules, the basics
goal (n.) – something that a person hopes to achieve in the future, an objective
motivated (adj.) – very much wanting to do or achieve something, especially because it is interesting or
excitingphilosophy (adj.) – the attitude or set of ideas that guides the behaviour of a person or organization
potential (n.) – a natural ability or quality that one has, a talent that practice enables
skills (n.) – an ability to do something well, especially because you have learned and practiced / practised it
structured (adj.) – carefully organized, planned, or arranged