Dealing with Pesky He/She Pronouns

My post last week about “what an editor can do for you” led to a question from a reader of my website. He asked why I listed proofreaders as female and copy editors as male.

In our modern, politically correct world there is often confusion about using the he and she pronouns in our writing. Everyone wants to be inclusive, but writing “he/she” to cover all possibilities is a little cumbersome and interrupts the flow of reading.

Some people use “they” to get around this problem instead of he or she, but that makes grammar gurus gnash their teeth. This use is considered wrong, as “they” clearly indicates at least two people, not just one lowly male or female.

To get around “he/she” or the improper use of “they”, many writers use both he and she throughout their text, but never cobbled together with a slash.  They will alternate the use of male and female pronouns by example, by paragraph or by chapter. This equitable distribution will keep you on the good side of both the politically correct and the defenders of proper English grammar.

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About Prairie Scribe Writing

Susan is the owner of Prairie Scribe, a technical writing, editing and training company located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
This entry was posted in General, Technical Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Dealing with Pesky He/She Pronouns

  1. Kim Forgetta says:

    Great blog post. I think I prefer to use they and avoid it all together, but I’ll try alternating now.

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