Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    36

    ...everybody...?

    ,I read in an internet site: "A person who knows how to read can educate themselves in any area of life they are interested in."...."themselves"?????Isn't it better to say either himself or herself?...Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    61,370

    Re: ...everybody...?

    Quote Originally Posted by flatron View Post
    ,I read in an internet site: "A person who knows how to read can educate themselves in any area of life they are interested in."...."themselves"?????Isn't it better to say either himself or herself?...Thanks in advance.
    Theoretically, yes, but when we are talking about "a person" and we don't want to specify the gender, and also want to avoid the wordiness of saying "himself or herself" we use the all-encompassing "they", which leads to "themselves".

    Someone will win this competition and we will give them a million dollars.
    When someone wins a million dollars, they will have to decide what to do with it.
    The winner can decide to keep the money for themselves, or give it away.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    36

    Re: ...everybody...?

    Thanks a lot...so...Is it correct to say ?: "A person who knows how to read can educate himself/herself in any area of life they are interested in."...because you say "Theoretically"...could you be more emphatic,please? Thanks again.

  4. #4
    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
    19,049

    Re: ...everybody...?

    Even then, you continue to use the "they" in the latter part of your sentence. If you use "himself/herself" you should also use "he/she" -- and as you can see, the sentence starts looking pretty ugly.

    Just make it all plural:
    People who... themselves... they.

    I use "they" or "their" for the gender-neutral 3rd-person singular all the time, but the "themselves" was a bit of a stopper for me.
    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.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    698

    Re: ...everybody...?

    Quote Originally Posted by flatron View Post
    ,I read in an internet site: "A person who knows how to read can educate themselves in any area of life they are interested in."...."themselves"?????Isn't it better to say either himself or herself?...Thanks in advance.
    This is an issue that has been coming up for several decades, ever since we since we begin being more careful about using gender neutral words. Tdol discussed the alternatives very elegantly in this post.

Posting Permissions

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