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|English to English translations [PRO]|
|English term or phrase: The individual has to learn for him or herself to take hold of "their" life|
|I am not sure if the use of "their" is grammatically correct. Can one use "their" in this case instead of repeating "his or her"?|
|Local time: 04:25|
|English translation:They, them, their are OK in singular|
Under the entry "Unisex Grammar" the Macmillan Good English Handbook has the following:
``Everybody, everyone, nobody, someone and similar words are singular:
`everybody is ...'. Such words were traditionally followed by he, him, his, blandly assuming that he, him, his, include women: `nobody has taken his seat yet.' This is no longer acceptable to many people. We wear our readers out writing and saying he or she all the time. S/he is clumsy and awkward to say aloud.
More and more writers see the best resolution as using *they*, *them*, *their* as unisex pronouns: `nobody has taken their seat yet' (!) The grammatical objection is that the singular *nobody* conflicts with the plural *their*. In spite of this, *they* and *their* are taking on a *plural* or a *singular* sense as required:
`Whoever is elected will take *their* seat in the House of Commons the next day' (BBC News)
Kauzo Ishiguro in The Remains of the Day (winner of the 1989 Booker Prize) wrote: `... some fellow professional... would be accompanying *their* employer.'
1. *He*, *him*, *his* should no longer be used to include women.
2. When it is appropriate, *he or she*, *him or her* etc (varied with *she or he* etc) can be used, but not repeatedly in the same text, or it becomes laboured.
3. When it is neither awkward nor misleading, a sentence can be rewritten to sidestep the problem: `nobody has taken their seat yet' could be recast as `people have not taken their seats yet' (although the meaning is not quite the same).
4. In all other cases, use the plural forms *they*, *them*, *their* as singular unisex words, accepting with regret that some readers will shake their heads reproachfully. But you will be in good company: `Nobody prevents you, do *they*?' (Thackeray); `No one would ever marry if *they* thought it over.' (Bernard Shaw)
Selected response from:
Local time: 10:25
|This is what I have been trying to do and wish there were an easier way! However, your explanation has given me the go-ahead. Many thanks to you and all the others who helped with suggestions. Together, I got it!!!|
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer
24 mins confidence: peer agreement (net): +2
one has to learn for oneself to take hold of one's life.
Why not make it easy on yourself?
On the other hand, I may be wrong, but I don't think that even in these post-feminist times women would force us to these clumsy extremes. They know we love and respect them!
Note added at 2002-04-01 01:29:06 (GMT)
But answering your question directly, I don\'t believe it would be gramatically correct to suddenly change one \"individual\" into two.
Local time: 04:25
Native speaker of: English, Portuguese
PRO pts in pair: 6
34 mins confidence: peer agreement (net): +2
You must learn for yourself to take charge of your own life.
This is largely an agreement with Theodore -- but the "one" construction has always struck me as lacking in punch.
1 hr confidence: peer agreement (net): +1
You might find it helpful...
There was already a similar question asked earlier, you might want to have a look at it:
"I am translating the online help of a software and political correctness (he/she) turned out to be a problem"
Good luck (you will need it in the treacherous world of PC) :o)
|Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)|1 hr confidence: peer agreement (net): +3
The individual has to learn how to take care of his or her life.
Gail, this is a very important question. I firmly believe that a careful writer would NOT use a plural pronoun (their) to refer to a singular noun (individual). On the other hand, the use of the male pronoun (he, his, him, etc.) is now out. So the challenge is to find an elegant way out. This often involves a little rewriting of the original. There are many solutions. Below are some of them.
What Not to Do
If you've been thinking that you have to break grammar rules to use gender-neutral writing, you may be surprised at what not to do:
Do not use "he" as a generic pronoun; use it only to refer to men and boys.
Do not use "she" as a generic pronoun; use it only to refer to women and girls.
Do not use "they" as a singular pronoun unless you are confident that your audience won't mind. This usage is gaining in popularity and acceptance, but a lot of people dislike it or stumble over it.
Avoid phrases such as "he or she" and "he/she" or made-up words like "s/he."
Do not use a feminized noun (e.g., manageress) when the normal noun (manager) covers both sexes.
What to Do
With what not to do in mind, here are some techniques you can use:
Bypass the problem of gender whenever possible For example, when writing procedures and instructional material, you are usually speaking directly to the reader, so you can use:
Imperative mood (Do this.).
Second person (you) instead of third person (he, the user).
First person plural (we), as used, for example, in parts of this article.
Use plural nouns and plural pronouns Avoid problems with using singular nouns and pronouns by using plural ones, like this:
No To log in, the user must enter his login name and password.
Yes (In a user document) To log in, enter your login name and password.
Yes (In other documents) To log in, users must enter their login names and passwords.
Avoid pronouns completely when you can Instead, try these techniques:
Repeat the noun (sometimes this also makes your meaning clearer):
Local time: 03:25
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in pair: 2249