Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Apr 17 04:54:11 UTC 2001

At 9:09 AM -0700 4/17/01, Peter Farruggio wrote:
>What about this one?  I have noticed during the past 20-25 years
>that the use of "Everybody (everyone, each, somebody, etc...) has
>THEIR own way of doing things" has steadily been replacing
>"Everybody (etc)....HIS  own etc" even in "learned discourse"  I
>attribute this to the influence of the women's movement in making
>America more aware and sensitive to sexism in society in general and
>in the English language in particular.  I have tried to use
>"his/her" (clumsy as it is) as a way to preserve subject-verb
>agreement, and I notice some others use "her" as a sort of
>overcompensation; but with each passing year I see "their" picking
>up more momentum in all corners, even in Academia.  Has this been
>picked up on any "official radar?"  Is it in any usage dictionaries
>yet?  Are there any other grammar formalists out there who cringe
>like I do when they hear this?
this is, of course, part of the more general issue of sex-neutral
singular reference, complicated by the fact that "everyone" (unlike
e.g. "a student" or even "anyone") does refer directly to a plural
set, while still governing singular verb agreement.  for the AHD4
usage note on gender-neutral/ sex-indefinite "they", "he or she",
etc., without an explicit reference to "their" as such, see the entry


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