What do you think of singular "they"?
It has been standard English for centuries. It has been used by Chaucer, Shakespeare, Austen, Thackery, and even the King James Bible. It is more elegant than “one” and less impersonal than “it.” Yet despite all this, the use of singular “they” remains quite controversial.
These days, the topic is most often raised as part of a broader discussion of gender-neutral pronouns. Some have advocated recovering the lost pronouns “ou” and “a” of Middle English, while others have invented new pronouns such as “hir” and “zie.” Neither option, however, has caught on. The old gender-neutral pronouns are not coming back, and the new gender-neutral pronouns are not catching on.
Given that there are historical, theoretical, and practical reasons in favor of singular “they,” then, is it time for us to fully embrace its use?
A technical note: English has three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. These categories are mutually exclusive, meaning that the neuter does not encompass the masculine and the feminine. Thus “it,” the pronoun corresponding to the neuter gender, does not properly refer to males or females. “One” is, at present, the only uncontroversial gender-neutral pronoun in the English language.
This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.