Can I use "him" in place of "them"?

chameleon82

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" The right person will come along and you won't need to do anything to keep them interested for the simple fact that you will be enough"

I read this sentence on the internet. Can I use "him" in place of "them"?
 

Rover_KE

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Only if you are absolutely certain that the 'right person' is going to be male.

They/them/their are used as third person singular pronouns when their gender is unknown or indeterminate—and in many cases, not even then.
 

emsr2d2

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"The right person will come along and you won't need to do anything to keep them interested for the simple fact that you will be enough."

I read this sentence on the internet. Can I use "him" in place of "them"?

Note my corrections above. Don't put a space after opening quotation marks. Remember to use a full stop at the end of a full sentence. Someone else wrote it so I can't change what they wrote, but it would be far more natural to use "because" instead of the long-winded "for the simple fact that".
 

Tdol

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You can, but some find this usage dodgy today. You could use him or her to be numerically accurate if you like.
 

Charlie Bernstein

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In American English, it's only okay if you're certain you're talking about a male. If your quote is from a conversation between two people, the speaker will probably know whether the other person is looking for a man or a woman. So "him would be fine.

But if it's from an advice column or a self-help book, the speaker won't. In that case, I'd use "him or her" or rephrase the sentence.

"Them" is acceptable to many English speakers. But a lot of us like to be what Tdol calls "numerically accurate," especially when writing. This is sometimes seen as old-fashioned, but in fact, it's an age-old debate - so both sides of it are old-fashioned!
 
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Rover_KE

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It's fine to use 'he or she' or 'his/her' etc on a single occasion, but frequent repetitions within the same piece of text is poor style, which soon becomes very tedious.
 

Tdol

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And very difficult to be consistent with. It's like people who start off using one and soon stray back to more familiar pronouns.
 
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