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KudoZ home » Spanish to English » Medical (general)

he/she or they

English translation: they (but with number changed to plural)

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22:14 Jul 3, 2007
Spanish to English translations [PRO]
Medical - Medical (general) / clinical trial protocol
Spanish term or phrase: he/she or they
I'm not sure if this is a Kudoz question or whether it should go in the forum so please forgive me if I'm wrong.

Is it Ok to use the 3rd person plural instead of singular when the sentence is not gender specific? Here's the sentence and my translation:

Se solicitará al sujeto proporcionar información sobre como se siente y que tan bien puede conducir sus actividades usuales.

The subject will be asked to provide information about how he/she feels and how well he/she can carry out his/her usual activities. (Yuk!)

Could I use they*they*their instead of he/she*he/she*his/her in cases like this?
patyjs
Mexico
Local time: 07:05
English translation:they (but with number changed to plural)
Explanation:
A common way around the clumsiness of "he/she" and the problem that "they" is still not formally recognized as a singular form is to recast the sentence into plural. For example:
"Subjects will be asked to provide information about how they feel..."
It doesn't work in all contexts but it might in this one. Hope it helps!
Selected response from:

Martin Boyd
Canada
Local time: 08:05
Grading comment
Thanks to everyone for all your help!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +10they (but with number changed to plural)
Martin Boyd
5 +5TheyCarolina Fryd
5 +3he or she
Joseph Tein
4 +3Information about how the subject is feeling and how...
Patricia Rosas
4 +1Use the pluralMDI-IDM


  

Answers


4 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +5
They


Explanation:
I'd use they in this case, to avoid so many "/" .
Regards,
Carolina

Carolina Fryd
Argentina
Local time: 09:05
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Spanish
PRO pts in category: 28

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Cesar Serrano
2 mins
  -> Gracias, César!

agree  TrueBaller
52 mins
  -> Gracias, Mimoza!

agree  GoodWords: There is a spurious "folk grammar rule" against using "they" in the singular. However this usage has a long & illustrious history. See, for example, http://tinyurl.com/yqedvl and http://tinyurl.com/yzjybe
1 hr
  -> Gracias, GoodWords!

agree  Salloz
4 hrs
  -> Gracias, Salloz!

agree  Judy Almodovar
9 hrs
  -> Gracias, Judy!
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

8 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +3
he or she


Explanation:
I would never use 'they' in academic, scientific or medical writing. My second choice here would be he/she.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 12 mins (2007-07-03 22:26:46 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Just to clarify: I wouldn't use the word 'they' with the singular word 'subject'. I think it would be perfectly correct to talk about 'subjects' in the plural, and use the pronoun 'they' in conjunction with 'subjects' -- if this is what the answer above means, then I agree with it completely!

Joseph Tein
United States
Local time: 05:05
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 344

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Maria Garcia: absolutely
9 mins
  -> Gracias Maria.

agree  Mónica Algazi
26 mins
  -> Hola Mónica. Gracias.

agree  Patrice
3 hrs
  -> Merci.
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

13 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +10
they (but with number changed to plural)


Explanation:
A common way around the clumsiness of "he/she" and the problem that "they" is still not formally recognized as a singular form is to recast the sentence into plural. For example:
"Subjects will be asked to provide information about how they feel..."
It doesn't work in all contexts but it might in this one. Hope it helps!

Martin Boyd
Canada
Local time: 08:05
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 16
Grading comment
Thanks to everyone for all your help!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Joseph Tein: Exactly.
6 mins

agree  xxxLia Fail: precisely:-) solves the problem straight off
9 mins

agree  Andrea Nagy
34 mins

agree  TrueBaller: definitely "they" in this case.
43 mins

agree  Satto (Roberto): Good one..very nice !
47 mins

agree  SandraV
49 mins

agree  JaneTranslates: Yes...I always try this solution first. As you say, it doesn't work in all contexts, but it's fine here.
3 hrs

agree  Patrice
3 hrs

agree  Dr Sue Levy
8 hrs

agree  Pilar Díez: I also think this is easier.
10 hrs
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18 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
Use the plural


Explanation:
In the interest of "the reader over your shoulder" you can rework the sentence in the plural: Subjects will be asked to provide information about their feelings...

If gender neutrality is an issue you must address, this will work better than he/she which is unwieldy (him/her, his/hers??); an alternative way of dealing with it is by using he in one paragraph, she in another (witness the Eighties re-issue of Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care); still, as "se" is impersonal (thus theoretically without a gender) the use of the plural is probably your best option.

Walk carefully through the minefield of political correctness....



    Reference: http://www.askoxford.com/betterwriting/classicerrors/grammar...
    Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender-neutral_pronoun
MDI-IDM
Local time: 13:05
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in SpanishSpanish
PRO pts in category: 8

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Joseph Tein: Agree again; it makes most sense to pluralize 'subjects'
15 mins
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36 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
Information about how the subject is feeling and how...


Explanation:
I agree with Joseph that it is best to avoid "they" in formal writing when the singular is intended. A simple restyling of the sentence can take care of that:

Information about how the subject is feeling and how easy it is to carry out normal activities will be requested.



Patricia Rosas
United States
Local time: 05:05
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in category: 68

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Álida Gándara
3 mins
  -> thank you!

agree  Claudia Aguero
2 hrs
  -> thank you, too!

agree  Patrice
3 hrs
  -> thank you!
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