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  1. Brians07Angel
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    #1

    Acceptable pronoun?

    I work at a large non-profit organization and write large numbers of thank you letters at one time in a mail merge format. Keeping that in mind, is this a proper sentence? We will notify Jane Smith that a donation from you was made in their honor. I write these letters for my boss and I think this is proper. Can you advise?

    Thanks.


    • Join Date: Jul 2007
    • Posts: 4
    #2

    Re: Acceptable pronoun?

    Better is "We will notify Jane Smith that you made a donation in her honor."

    The only real grammatical error in your sentence was the use of "their" instead of "her." The word "their" is plural, of course, and the word "her" is singular feminine.

    Cf. We will notify Harry and Jane Smith that you made a donation in their honor.

    I hope this helps.

    Rick

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 62
    #3

    Re: Acceptable pronoun?

    (Not a teacher)

    I see your problem and have come across this same difficulty myself.
    To me, using "their" looks a bit awkward but is generally deemed to be correct in that it is the lesser of the two evils compared to using "his or her" when it is obvious from the sentence that the recipient is female. Alas, that is one of the downsides of automating - you remove the human (intelligent) touch.

    I would suggest you have little option but to go ahead with your suggested solution
    "We will notify [NAME] that a donation from you was made in their honor."

    PSAttorney's post is correct in itself, but it doesn't take account of the fact that you are creating a standard letter into which a name (male or female) will be inserted automatically.

    For more on gender-neutral pronouns search the web – many people have been wrestling with this (and come up with some bizarre solutions which will probably never catch on!). See Gender-neutral pronoun - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Last edited by hotmetal; 10-Jun-2008 at 14:45. Reason: Comment on 1st reply whilst I was still composing

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