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Him/her, her, their... What to choose for referring to somebody whose gender is unknown?

 
 
sky123
 
Reply Thu 3 Nov, 2016 11:10 am
In English language there are two words for third person (he/she, his/her). So when it comes to referring to somebody whose gender is unknown, it is hazy for me what to do. I have had some searches already in this regard but still I cannot have a one final word.
For instance:
1-XYZ is a talented student. Also (he/she,...?) is hardworking.
Also sometimes we are generally speaking. What to do in that case?
For instance:
2-Somebody who is chosen for this position must be talented. Also (he/she,...?) must be hardworking.
What if speaking about a not alive thing?
For instance:
3- Vendor's proposal must be in full compliance with our requirements. Also proper working of the equipment after installation lies within (her/his, it's...?) responsibility.
I think in cases (1) and (2) he/she is grammatically true but what if we are not formally speaking?
 
contrex
 
  3  
Reply Thu 3 Nov, 2016 11:42 am
For 1 and 2 you can use "he or she" (not "he/she"). For inanimate objects you can use 'it' e.g. the computer system must perform as specified and it must function reliably. For 3 you would usually see 'vendor' repeated in legal documents e.g. contracts. "Vendor's proposal must be in full compliance with our requirements. Also proper working of the equipment after installation lies within vendor's responsibility."
dalehileman
 
  0  
Reply Thu 3 Nov, 2016 12:18 pm
@sky123,
1-XYZ is a talented student, also hardworking.


2-Somebody who is chosen for this position must be talented. Also this humanoid must be hardworking.

3- ....Also proper working ..../ lies within its responsibility. But some of usd don't see the problem

Quote:
...what if we are not formally speaking?
Dunno Sky, never do it. Con above can get more tech
sky123
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Nov, 2016 12:41 pm
@contrex,
Thank you Contrex
May I ask you some more details?
So for something formal like taking a Toefl exam, I will use "he or she must be hardworking". But is there any other way (probably not grammatically true but commonly used) to avoid using "he or she"? I mean is it the way that you speak to an intimate friend about somebody whose gender is unknown? Isn't there any other way for informal speeches?
Also about the case 3, I saw such a sentence from a non-English speaker: " Vendor is responsible for her offer" while his meaning was a company not any specific person. So was it wrong?
By your definition to use "it" for referring to inanimate objects, I can use "its responsibility" instead of "vendor's responsibility". Is there any preference between two once?
contrex
 
  3  
Reply Thu 3 Nov, 2016 12:41 pm
An important point, that may be wasted on the OP (at least at this stage of his or her learning), is that native speakers and writers avoid awkward phrasing. Instead of puzzling over what to write in the brackets here: "Somebody who is chosen for this position must be talented. Also (he/she,...?) must be hardworking.", they will write "Somebody who is chosen for this position must be talented and hardworking."
contrex
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Nov, 2016 12:48 pm
@sky123,
sky123 wrote:
So for something formal like taking a Toefl exam, I will use "he or she must be hardworking". But is there any other way (probably not grammatically true but commonly used) to avoid using "he or she"? I mean is it the way that you speak to an intimate friend about somebody whose gender is unknown? Isn't there any other way for informal speeches?

To achieve gender neutrality you can use the 'singular they' to avoid 'he or she'.

Somebody left their umbrella in the office. Would they please collect it?

The patient should be told at the outset how much they will be required to pay.

A journalist should not be forced to reveal their sources.

The singular they had emerged by the 14th century and is common in everyday spoken English, but its use has been the target of criticism since the late 19th century. Its use in formal English has increased with the trend toward gender-inclusive language.

sky123 wrote:
Also about the case 3, I saw such a sentence from a non-English speaker: " Vendor is responsible for her offer" while his meaning was a company not any specific person. So was it wrong?

Yes, it was wrong to use 'her' about a company.

sky123 wrote:
By your definition to use "it" for referring to inanimate objects, I can use "its responsibility" instead of "vendor's responsibility". Is there any preference between two once?

You would not use 'its' in that sentence because that word would refer to the preceding object (the equipment).


0 Replies
 
sky123
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Nov, 2016 12:49 pm
@dalehileman,
Quote:
Also this humanoid must be hardworking.

Thanks father,
I've noticed that before that in many cases you English natives speakers avoid using "he,she,it..." by using other words.. but for somebody who is not native it is not always easy to find a better alternative! So I face such a problem sometimes.
contrex
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Nov, 2016 12:53 pm
Please ignore that answer about 'humanoid'. I think it was meant to be a joke. It is a bad suggestion for a learner of English.
sky123
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Nov, 2016 01:04 pm
@contrex,
Quote:
An important point, that may be wasted on the OP (at least at this stage of his or her learning), is that native speakers and writers avoid awkward phrasing.

Yes, exactly...But for such a non native speaker it's sometimes hard to find a good phrase Smile . So you mean using singular "they" is commonly used and I can use it for example here in A2K ?
0 Replies
 
sky123
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Nov, 2016 01:07 pm
@contrex,
Yes, I got it. Thank you both. Really.
0 Replies
 
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Nov, 2016 01:26 pm
@contrex,
Quote:
I think it was meant to be a joke.
Well yes

Quote:
bad suggestion for a learner
My most iniquitous apologies to all; so repeat again, still, once more, no need for anyone to read my postings, intended to be humorous but can be confusing to the esl, bless'm
0 Replies
 
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Nov, 2016 01:30 pm
@sky123,
Quote:
Thanks father,
Most welcome my son

Again most impressed by Con above: I'd never have his/her patience;
sky123
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Nov, 2016 06:16 am
@dalehileman,
You are always kind. Thanks. Also thank Contrex for his or her helpful points.
Though dear Con said that the word "they" could be an alternative for "she or he", but still I get confused seeing such sentences:
1-In this page the user can add a new entity, if she follows the link labelled Add entity.
2-But whoever repents after his iniquity and reforms (himself) then..........
In case 1, the user is not necessarily female, so why she? why not they?
In case 2, the subject is every human being, so again not necessarily men, so why his and himself?
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Nov, 2016 06:25 am
Ask the person...
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Fri 4 Nov, 2016 06:35 am
@sky123,
Are we talking about correct English? Or, are we taking about modern political correctness? It is still correct to use "he" and "him" as gender neutral pronouns.

It is grammatically correct to say "Somebody who is chosen for this position must be talented. Also, he must be hardworking."

So if we are talking about traditional, grammatically correct, English. In your examples

#1 would depend on the gender of the talented student.
#2 would use "he" as a gender neutral pronoun (since we don't know who will actually be chosen).
#3 Would use "it" or "its" since it isn't referring to a person. (With the slight correction on your example; the possessive pronoun is "its". The contraction "it's" means "it is".)
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Nov, 2016 06:47 am
@maxdancona,
The cultural cauldron that makes the usage living language sets the parameters, dictionaries just deal with it.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Nov, 2016 06:50 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
Of course Fil. Each English speaker is influenced by the culture around him.
0 Replies
 
dalehileman
 
  0  
Reply Fri 4 Nov, 2016 10:44 am
@sky123,
Quote:
You are always kind
Not always Sky. We harbor a few who hate me for an earlier jocular approach

Quote:
Also thank Contrex
Yes he's really a busy fella isn't he
Wish I had his persistence

On this page the user can add a thing or two following the link labelled "Add entry." Yes, my apologies 123

Quote:
In case 1... why she? why not they?
Righto Sky


Quote:
In case 2... why his and himself?
It's collo. But we might say:

1. But whoever repents after iniquity and reforms, then..........
2. But whoever repents after iniquity then reforms, ..........

Admittedly 1. above can be called equivocal, reading "iniquity and reforms" as a unit describing who(m?)ever

Thanks Sky for the opportunity to demonstrate the fruits of a lifetime in the biz

....where can't remember a single grammatical term
0 Replies
 
sky123
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Nov, 2016 10:49 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
Thanks for the hint Fil,
I think it's better to ask my question in such a way:

0 Replies
 
dalehileman
 
  0  
Reply Fri 4 Nov, 2016 10:53 am
@maxdancona,
Quote:
It is grammatically correct to say "Somebody who is chosen for this position must be talented. Also, he must be hardworking."
Yea Cona; however from a purely tech p of v can it not be misconstrued to mean that permitting himself to be chosen isd hisd real talent

Incidentally you'd suppose wouldn't you that if a2k spelling software recognizes the second misspelling it should also recognize the first

But I'm a critically compulsive bastard
0 Replies
 
 

 
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