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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    their vs. his or her

    Hi!

    I have a questions regarding the word they as a singular pronoun referring to a person of unspecified sex. Is it acceptable to use their instead or the repetitive his or her in sentences similar to the one below?

    Appraisals provide an opportunity to review the employee's career plans in light of his or her/ their exhibited strengths and weaknesses.

    Thanks!

  2. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: their vs. his or her

    In business, and in speech, yes. In formal speeches, and academic writing, it may go unnoticed, but people may take you for a bit of an uneducated bumpkin.

  3. Newbie
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    #3

    Re: their vs. his or her

    I do agree that the usage of their instead of his or her is not widely accepted formally, however, it turns out that the usage of their has been deemed uneducated just relatively recently, and their, in some cases, sounds more natural and eliminates awkward situations, the ones referred to in Merriam-Webster's ''The Awkward Case of His or Her'' video (try to google it, as I cannot post links just yet).

  4. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: their vs. his or her

    Vincent you can also simply make it all plural: appraisals, employees, their.

    I completely disagree that it makes you look like an "uneducated bumpkin" -- at least to the vast majority of English users.

    The use of "their" with a singular antecedent is long-established at this point.
    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.

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