Results 1 to 4 of 4
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • French
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada

    • Join Date: Dec 2013
    • Posts: 2
    #1

    Welcome X in "his" new role ... or welcome X in "their" new role ?

    Please would you tell me if it is correct or incorrect to say the following...under the strange circumstance of not actually knowing if it is a male or female (perhaps due to the name which could be foreign, for example)

    We would like to welcome this person in "their" new role
    or
    We would like to welcome this person in "his" new role

    I was always taught that it is impossible to use "their" in this case as it is clearly a SINGULAR case of ONE person being welcomed ...hence into his/her new role...never "their" which is plural. However, the person writing the Memo for the company insists that this is correct and accepted, but I would like "grammatical English proof" that this is acceptable or not.
    Thank you for your time.
    Caroline

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2007
    • Posts: 19,221
    #2

    Re: Welcome X in "his" new role ... or welcome X in "their" new role ?

    You are unlikely to get such "grammatical English proof" here, Caroline.

    The use of "their" for a singular reference when the sex is unknown has a long history. It's acceptable use in a broad range of settings.

    Wouldn't you be embarrassed to use "his new role" and have a woman be the person you're talking about?
    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.

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 24,983
    #3

    Re: Welcome X in "his" new role ... or welcome X in "their" new role ?

    Quote Originally Posted by acogscott View Post
    Please would you tell me if it is correct or incorrect to say the following...under the strange circumstance of not actually knowing if it is a male or female (perhaps due to the name which could be foreign, for example)

    We would like to welcome this person in "their" new role
    or
    We would like to welcome this person in "his" new role

    I was always taught that it is impossible to use "their" in this case as it is clearly a SINGULAR case of ONE person being welcomed ...hence into his/her new role...never "their" which is plural. However, the person writing the Memo for the company insists that this is correct and accepted, but I would like "grammatical English proof" that this is acceptable or not.
    Thank you for your time.
    Caroline
    I am not a big fan of using plural pronouns as gender-neutral singular pronouns. But, as Barb said, it is sometimes unavoidable. Sometimes we can avoid he problem by phrasing the sentence in the plural. Sometimes we can use "he/she or him/her. But neither of those strategies will work in your proposed sentence.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • French
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada

    • Join Date: Dec 2013
    • Posts: 2
    #4

    Re: Welcome X in "his" new role ... or welcome X in "their" new role ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    You are unlikely to get such "grammatical English proof" here, Caroline.

    The use of "their" for a singular reference when the sex is unknown has a long history. It's acceptable use in a broad range of settings.

    Wouldn't you be embarrassed to use "his new role" and have a woman be the person you're talking about?
    Reply - Thanks for the reply. Yes, I totally agree but that is why I find it strange that they even think about using PLURAL. If you have just taken on somebody, SURELY GOODNESS you know if the person is a Man or a Woman ??? (even if they did have foreign names from India or wherever which as I mentioned may not be obvious to Quebec as to what sex the person is)
    This means that you would obviously use HIS role or HER role and not their role ! hahaha
    thanks again.

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 7
    Last Post: 11-Oct-2013, 08:01
  2. Grammatical role of "NOR"
    By TheParser in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 18-Dec-2009, 17:34
  3. meaning of "role of lifetime"
    By masterding in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 14-Nov-2009, 15:16
  4. article : Nuclear deterrence may still have a role to play"
    By Unregistered in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 30-Mar-2009, 02:26
  5. Role of "it" in the following phrase..
    By GFA in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 20-Nov-2008, 20:32

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
  •