Making Pronouns Inclusive By Making Them Plural

Faculty members’ ideas vary on this, and our Writer’s Web page about pronoun usage provides the canny advice to ask a professor.

The author of this post is far from “politically correct” in many areas, but it has always made good rhetorical sense to avoid gendering language when an audience includes men and women.

In a pinch, I can rewrite any sentence to keep it both grammatically correct and inclusive. Every summer, we edit our handbook for Writing Consultants, and I am surprised that three female editors still kept in sentences like this one:

“Have the writer identify his main point by asking…” when it is easily broadened to “Have writers identify main points by asking.” This revision has the virtue of brevity. Using “his or her” seems awkward.

I invite readers to come up with a sentence that cannot be revised by making it plural, save when an obvious gender-specific reference must be made.

This entry was posted in Advice, Resources and tagged , , , , by jessid. Bookmark the permalink.

About jessid

Director of The University of Richmond's Writing Center since 1991. I teach courses in English, International Studies, and our First-Year Seminars program on technology & literature, cyberculture, and writing theory & pedagogy. I am an avid free-lance writer and publish in areas such as virtual worlds, cyberculture, and Writing Center best practices.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.