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  1. Newbie
    Interested in Language
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    • Join Date: Feb 2013
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    #1

    A new scholarly interpretation!

    Sometimes, people have great powers to confuse and convince!
    I am an occasional contributor to wikipedia.
    Recently, an accomplished poster wrote to me for a single person, say, John:
    Pinging John, since they seem to be the original target of this inquiry.
    I was surprised. I wrote:
    John is just one person who helped on an earlier query. Why did sir use 'they'?
    to which the accomplished poster replied:
    "they" is a gender-free pronoun, used in the third person to refer to someone else. It can be singular or plural.
    I truly believe there is always something to learn even when one is quite aged. But I could not accept the apparently convoluted grammatical rule which appears totally new to me!
    Could you please advise?
    Regards

  2. Moderator
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    #2

    Re: A new scholarly interpretation!

    It's not a convoluted rule. They and them are frequently used as singular pronouns. You can find such usage in the King James Bible, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and many more modern sources.
    I am not a teacher.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    English Teacher
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    #3

    Re: A new scholarly interpretation!

    The Associated Press just accepted its general use.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  4. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: A new scholarly interpretation!

    What's more, it has become more prominent recently in Canada, the US and the UK as a gender-neutral way of referring to a transgender person.

  5. VIP Member
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    #5

    Re: A new scholarly interpretation!

    When an unspecified person is being talked about it makes some sense.

    This person is going out of his way to show that he is not assuming that "John" is a male.

  6. Newbie
    Interested in Language
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    #6

    Re: A new scholarly interpretation!

    Thank you, GoesStation, emsr2d2, jutfrank & SoothingDave, for replying so quickly!
    I am really surprised! I would need time to digest the fact!
    I had once read that the form of English in King James bible and Shakespeare is no longer in use, and that Shakespeare is no longer taught in the most prominant British Universities.
    Why 'they'? One could as well have used 'it' as a gender-neutral singular form!
    I see that people love undue complications!

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