Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: they do or does

  1. #1
    AlexAD's Avatar
    AlexAD is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Belarus
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    632
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default they do or does

    Hello.

    I have this line, 'A flake is someone who says they will do something but then they decide not to do it'

    I thought 'they' means 'he' or 'she'. And if that correct then it must have been, they (he or she) decides.
    Could you please, elaborate.

    Thanks, Alex.

  2. #2
    shannico's Avatar
    shannico is offline Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • Italian
      • Home Country:
      • Italy
      • Current Location:
      • Italy
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    366
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: they do or does

    Yes, it's an impersonal usage of they instead of "one" (he or she if the gender is not stated). And because the gender may not be important or may be unknown you may use they and stick to the third person plural.
    Hope it helps.

  3. #3
    TheParser is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    4,877
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: they do or does

    CAUTION: NOT A TEACHER


    (1) You have touched a very sensitive nerve in many people.

    (2) For many centuries, "he" referred to males and females.

    (a) So everyone accepted: A flake is someone who says he will do something ....

    (3) Then in the 1960's, the whole world started to change. Women, children, old people, racial groups, etc., demanded equality.

    (a) A few (a very few!) women were even angered by the word "history"!!!

    (4) So today we can say/write

    A flake is someone who says she or he ....
    A flake is someone who says s/he ....
    A flake is someone who says they ....
    Flakes are people who say they ....


    For older people like me, the third choice is horrible and outrageous. But it seems to be the accepted form. And , as you know, language is very democratic. If most people decide to say something, then that becomes the "correct" form.

    P.S. Of course, "A flake is someone who says he ...." is still correct, but most

    people who want to use it are afraid. They do not want to be criticized by their

    friends and colleagues. In fact, if you used it at your business, you would probably get

    a reminder from the boss that it is no longer acceptable.

  4. #4
    AlexAD's Avatar
    AlexAD is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Belarus
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    632
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: they do or does

    Thank you, very much for your answers!
    Especially, TheParser. I never realized that both sexes were called he not too long ago!

    I just wanted to know which would be the right in that example, they decide or they decides?
    I am asking you that because it seems that I saw an example like they does sth. May be even somewhere on this forum.

    Thanks, Alex.

  5. #5
    TheParser is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    4,877
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: they do or does

    Quote Originally Posted by AlexAD View Post

    I just wanted to know which would be the right in that example, they decide or they decides?
    I am asking you that because it seems that I saw an example like they does sth.

    CAUTION: NOT A TEACHER


    (1) I am 99.99% sure that "they decideS" and "They DOES" are still considered

    horrible and outrageous English.

    (2) You will hear it sometimes in certain kinds of music (I am afraid to

    be more exact) and you may hear some characters in motion pictures speak

    that way, but please -- please! -- never, ever speak like that. If you do, everyone

    will lose all respect for you.

  6. #6
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    18,261
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: they do or does

    Quote Originally Posted by AlexAD View Post
    Thank you, very much for your answers!
    Especially, TheParser. I never realized that both sexes were called he not too long ago!
    Women have never been referred to as "he". What Parser was saying was that if the sex wasn't known, "he" would be used, and that that would include women as well. If the sex of a person was known, and if she was a woman, we would never use "he".
    "A student must submit his assignment on time". This would include women. But this sentence would not have been used at an all-girl school, for example.

  7. #7
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    16,291
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: they do or does

    Perhaps you may feel it is less of a "horrible" mistake if you read that "they" has been used for a singular reference as far back as Shakespeare.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  8. #8
    AlexAD's Avatar
    AlexAD is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Belarus
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    632
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: they do or does

    Thanks, Raymott for bringing my attention to that misleading of mine.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Hotchalk