Results 1 to 4 of 4
  1. Nightmare85's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • German
      • Home Country:
      • Germany
      • Current Location:
      • Germany

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 1,333
    #1

    Parent - them

    Hello,
    That's the dialogue:
    She: Honey, oh no, not now, she is busy, she is talking to some other parent.
    (I'm not sure if I should have begun a new sentence after busy.)
    He: Oh, I wonder why... ah, it's 'cause she likes them.

    I'm 99,9% sure she says parent, not parents.
    Doesn't it matter if the parent is a man or a woman?
    Is them correct anyway?
    Other versions could have been her or him, couldn't have been?
    (couldn't have been - not sure if I can write it this way...)

    Cheers!


    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 576
    #2

    Re: Parent - them

    (Not a teacher)

    Because English has no gender neutral pronoun (it isn't used for humans, generally - perhaps an unborn baby), people tend to use 'them' and 'they' to refer to a singular person whose gender is unknown or irrelevant.

    I'm not sure if it is so widespread now that it could be called 'correct', but it is certainly used very commonly. Without it, we'd have to keep saying 'him/her' or something similar, which is quite awkward and pedantic.

    About 'couldn't have been', you should write 'could it have been?', although I'm not sure this works as a tag question. 'Right?' or 'is that right?' would have been suffice.

  2. Nightmare85's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • German
      • Home Country:
      • Germany
      • Current Location:
      • Germany

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 1,333
    #3

    Re: Parent - them

    Alright

    Yes, I often add the tag "right?".
    Today I tried something new

    Thanks!

    Cheers!


    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 576
    #4

    Re: Parent - them

    I should say that when referring to an unknown gender you have three options:

    - Use masculine pronouns as a generic pronoun. This is the method used in most Latin languages, and traditionally used in English. Nowadays, it's seen as being 'sexist'.

    - Use him/her, (s)he or some other way of writing both. This is preferred over the 'generic masculine' approach. It's alright reading it a few times in an article, but a whole book that uses 'him/her' 'he/she' all the way through becomes tedious. Often, there will be a 'disclaimer' at the beginning of the book, where the author will say which pronoun he/she will use throughout the text, and give a reason if appropriate.

    It would be rare to hear people saying this construction in speech.

    - Use 'them' 'they' and 'their'. This is more convenient than the second, and is less 'sexist' than the first. It would be the most common in speech, but I don't know if it is standard in writing.

    So, compare these sentences:

    Every parent wants the best for his child.
    Every parent wants the best for his/her child.
    Every parent wants the best for their child.

    The first would be innappropriate, the second is correct but tedious, and the third is appropriate but not standard/correct.

Similar Threads

  1. child nagging to go with a parent
    By Dr.Appalayya in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 17-Oct-2009, 20:34
  2. Both parent peguins take turns to keep the eggs warm
    By angliholic in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 25-Dec-2007, 14:53
  3. parent
    By Unregistered in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 06-Sep-2007, 22:00
  4. parent needing help
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 10-Dec-2003, 16:52

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

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