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 inĀ  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.