Griz asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 4 weeks ago

Single word for "he or she" and "him or her"?

I'm frustrated by having to say or write "he or she" and "him or her." It seems like an oversight on the part of the English language that there is no single word to handle this clumsiness. Do other language have single words that handle this? If so, what are they in which languages? Thanks!

Update:

I'm referring to a context related to a single individual. As in "What would he or she do?"

14 Answers

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  • 4 weeks ago
    Favorite Answer

    Ah...you and millions of other English speaking people. But fear not, it is now legal to use the plural (they, them, their) when the gender of the noun is unknown or ill-defined. It's called gender-neutral English and the dictionaries are saying that's OK now. [https://www.dictionary.com/e/they-is-a-singular-pr...

    So it's now legal to say for example, "When a guard orders you to stop you must obey them."

    • bluebellbkk
      Lv 7
      4 weeks agoReport

      I don't think it was ever 'illegal'!

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  • Anonymous
    4 weeks ago

    In writing, "he or she" is shortened to "(s)he," making use of parentheses indicating possibility of inclusion, but not certainty, such how "child or children" is shortened to "child(ren)," or how "men or women" is shortened to "(wo)men," or how "student or students" is shortened to "student(s)."  Do you see the pattern here?

    Unfortunately, there is no remedy for "him or her," or than to shorten to "him/her," or "him/r," or to use a singular gender-neutral third-party pronoun - which is unpopular, unnatural, and not recognized by many.  A gender-neutral pronoun for "him/her" would be "hir."

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  • reme_1
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    that is the single form already

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  • Zirp
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    Some languages don't distinguish between he and she in the first place. A couple of years ago, the swedes adopted the Finnish word "hän"

    In Esperanto, "ri" and "ŝli" have been used to some extent for the third person singular since 1984, maybe even earlier. Currently some people advocate using "ĝi" (=it) , but most prefer to use that word for inanimate objects and sex(e)less creatures.

    Some other languages (like Latin) have a verb-ending for third person singular, so you can drop the pronoun altogether

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  • 4 weeks ago

    How about individual, husband, spouse, son, daughter, grandchild, etc.

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  • Speed
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    Griz, since the 1300s educated people have used they/them as an epicene singular pronoun for exactly this purpose. It is not considered incorrect.

    Each student must turn in their paper.

    Every man or woman here knows they deserve respect.

    The first time we Skyped, I let them know I had no romantic interest.

    No single person gets their lunch for free.

    A tourist must have left their suitcase on the bus.

    Somebody gave me a five-star rating because they loved my poem.

  • 4 weeks ago

    Use "it" "It" is a third person singular pronoun that does not imply any gender.

    PS: Most languages assign genders to nouns and pronouns.

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    • Zirp
      Lv 7
      4 weeks agoReport

      Swahili, Shona, Tuyuca... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_type_of_grammatical_genders

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  • Goerge
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    They. They person. The days of boys having a penis and girls having a vagina are long gone. Now it's whatever a person can dream up... We say it and it's too general. We used to be able to say look at that guy over there, he looks kind of lost. We should go help.

    HELP? HELP!!!? my former friend says. Who the uck do you think you are judging a book by its cover. You don't know what gender they identify as. You're a heartless piece of chit!

    They walk off in a hub and the guy is still walking in circles and looking around in their confusion. So the heartless piece of $h|t goes to help him.

    Fast forward 4 more generations and we have 10,300 classifications...... And speaking has been banned to remain perfectly PC. Butthurt gens Y & Z have taken speech and white washed the uck out of it. Until you inform me what exactly you are don't be so frustrated that we aren't psychic. And if you are clueless as to what to call a person, maybe, just maybe you should be asking THEM!!!! Do 5 seconds of Googling and see for yourself https://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/a-nearl... It is NOT a complete list and more people will dream up new identifying markers so your frustration will happily continue. . 

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  • 4 weeks ago

    "they", "them", though I suspect you wanted a different answer.

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    • bluebellbkk
      Lv 7
      4 weeks agoReport

      Yes, Griz, it can and does. What's more, this usage dates back to Chaucer. It's just becoming a lot more common now.

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  • blank
    Lv 5
    4 weeks ago

    You are frustrated with that?   Guess you have not heard of the 70 or more "self identifying gender classifications" being touted by the LGBTQ+ community.

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