When Is It OK to Use the Singular “They”?

Feel like you’ve been getting mixed messages about “they” and “their”? Keep the following resource handy as you edit and proofread.
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The Singular “They”: Now in HaikuDeck

Without going into too much backstory (if you’re interested, go right ahead), this HaikuDeck explains the controversy over the singular “they” and how to decide whether or not to use it.

The Singular “They” – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

The Singular “They”

Update: The APA Style Blog weighs in on the singular “they.”


Why can’t I use “they” as a singular pronoun? I tried to use “he or she” instead, but it’s cluttering up my writing! Are there any other options?


The short answer for students is as follows: avoid the singular “they” in formal writing unless you’re a language-change renegade, you’re working in  a progressive discipline, or you know your professor is OK with it. Use plurals instead.

This is a hot topic, so we created a Slideshare to answer the question.


“That” versus “who”


I am writing a paper for an MLA seminar, and I am wondering which pronoun to use in this sentence:

The researchers concluded that the children ____ had eaten breakfast performed better on the test.

Do I use “that” or “who”?


“That” is for things or concepts. When referring to a person or people, always use “who.” Using “who” to refer to people makes the writing more graceful, and it also results in more humanist writing. Every person is a “who,” regardless of our differences. Use “who” for people; change the world!