pronoun, possessive their or theirs,objective them.
- (used to refer to a generic or unspecified person previously mentioned, about to be mentioned, or present in the immediate context): Whoever is of voting age, whether they are interested in politics or not, should vote.A person may enlist only if they are over 18.
- (used to refer to a specific or known person previously mentioned, about to be mentioned, or present in the immediate context): The victim refused to testify at the trial because they feared for their life.My best friend from high school is famous now—too bad we didn’t stay in touch after they moved to California.
- (used to refer to a nonbinary or gender-nonconforming person previously mentioned, about to be mentioned, or present in the immediate context): Quinn is waiting for summer vacation to adopt a puppy, so they will have more time to get their new family member properly settled.
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It's totally cool if someone doesn't identify as a he or a she and wants to be a they. If you really want to be an ally, consider asking what pronoun someone prefers.
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Origin of they
grammar notes for they
Shakespeare, Swift, Shelley, Scott, and Dickens, as well as many other English and American writers, used they to refer to a generic, unspecified individual, or to a person whose gender and other personal details were unknown or irrelevant. So this use of they, their, and them is not a recent development, nor is it a mark of ignorance. Generic and singular indefinite they and related case forms their and them are found in respected works, from Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors (There's not a man I meet but doth salute me/As if I were their well-acquainted friend) to Lewis Carroll’s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (If everybody minded their own business … the world would go round a deal faster than it does).
Singular they is also used as a pronoun for a known, specified person, particularly when the individual is named with a job title or other noun phrase, instead of a proper name: My teacher had their car stolen. This specific singular they looks similar to the generic singular they, but is somewhat less acceptable in conservatively edited English.
Nonbinary singular use of they, their, and them has become widely accepted in the 21st century. The third person singular pronouns in English are traditionally binary, with the masculine he and the feminine she. People, including many who are nonbinary and gender-nonconforming, have simply chosen between these two words. Likewise, people apply these pronouns to others based on gender expression cues observed in their appearance. By the mid-2010s, some style guides began recommending the use of singular they as one way to refer to an individual without assigning gender to that person. At the same time, it has become much more common for people to announce their pronoun or ask what pronoun a person uses. It may be that a person has chosen a traditional binary pronoun like he or she, an alternative gender-neutral or nonbinary pronoun such as ze, or the singular use of the existing pronoun they: When Tyler was applying to college, they indicated their intended major on the application. In spite of the older grammar rules that prohibited the use of singular they in reference to a specified, known, or named person, use of they when the antecedent is a gender-nonconforming individual or one who does not identify as male or female is now accepted as an option.
And although they may be used as a singular pronoun, they still takes a plural verb, analogous to the use of "you are" to refer to one person: The student brought in a note to show why they were absent. See also he1.
Words nearby they
How to use they in a sentence
Kanye West finally got Kim Kardashian the Vogue cover he/she/they have been waiting for.
Thinking about fairness comes more naturally to liberals, and they/we care passionately about it.Michael Tomasky: Economic Fairness Isn’t Enough for Obama’s Game Plan|Michael Tomasky|April 12, 2012|DAILY BEAST
The congressman's public flogging doesn't fit the crime, and is emblematic of our kick-'em-when-they're-down culture.
Whichever way you look at it, the are-they-or-aren't-they couple earned the portmanteau Brittana and a lot of attention.
Who are Hov, Hova, Jigga, and Jiggaman?They are all the same person: Jay-Z.
There was a certain difficulty in obtaining the necessary funds without announcing precisely what they-were for.Hyacinth|George A. Birmingham
A rose from the cottage of Mavis Clare?a rose from the garden of Eden!they are one and the same to me!The Sorrows of Satan|Marie Corelli
"Reckon I could hold my own agin most of they-uns if I only had a new-fangled gun," returned the boy.
What a noble illustration of the tender laws of this favoured country!they let the paupers go to sleep!Oliver Twist, Vol. I (of 3)|Charles Dickens
Father declared that he could not lift his feet-they seemed sealed to the ground, and he felt that he must go back.Precious Memories|Various
British Dictionary definitions for they
Word Origin for they
usage for they
Idioms and Phrases with they
see bigger they come; let the chips fall where they may.