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Pedants' corner

Them/Their

(15 Posts)
NfkDumpling Sun 20-Oct-19 13:52:54

I'm listening to From My Own Correspondent on Radio Four. About a young person named Paul wanting to be addressed as them or their. I'm having problems with this. Surely that's plural? Shouldn't he be wanting to be addressed as it or it's?

Greenfinch Sun 20-Oct-19 14:52:05

I find this difficult too but I guess "it" means a thing (neuter) whereas "them" is at least personal if you understand me.

FarNorth Sun 20-Oct-19 15:05:18

I have no problem with this, as long as they don't claim to be the opposite sex to their biological one.

NfkDumpling Sun 20-Oct-19 17:40:02

I find it confusing. If Paul told me they were coming for tea, I would assume he (sorry, they) were bringing friends!

Ellianne Sun 20-Oct-19 17:50:22

Sorry NfkDumpling you can't use the word "he" because it denotes gender. Apparently we are supposed to use the words "they" "their" in this day and age so that no one is offended by their description.

Nannyxthree Sun 20-Oct-19 17:59:24

I believe Queen Victoria referred to herself as 'we' so perhaps Paul has royal blood!

Aren't things getting just too complicated in an effort to be correct?

MamaCaz Sun 20-Oct-19 18:11:12

I think I would be tempted to stick to using the person's actual (presumably self-selected) name in many circumstances. In other words, "what would X like to drink?", rather than "what would they like to drink?"
Otherwise, the potential for confusion every single time the words they and their were used in a group situation would be huge - at you supposed to ask that one person, or the whole group what they would like to drink?

MamaCaz Sun 20-Oct-19 18:12:36

'Are', not 'at' in the last sentence.

oldgimmer1 Sun 20-Oct-19 19:43:21

I dislike this.

I'm reading a book at the moment and it says on the cover:

" The Secret Barrister is a junior barrister specialising in criminal law. THEY write for Counsel Magazine".

I can kind of see why they've used the plural there, because the barrister in question is not gendered.

But it's clumsy and, in my view, incorrect as it's matching a singular with a plural.

At work we send a letter saying:

"you were seen today by oldgimmer. THEY can be contacted on 0800 700700"

Why? Just why?

Makes no sense. I don't want to be a plural pronoun, I want to be a feminine singular one!

FarNorth Sun 20-Oct-19 20:01:52

Surely Paul would say "I am coming for tea" and the host would ask Paul "What would you like to drink?"?

They/them/their only needs to be used when talking about the person, to someone else.

trisher Sun 20-Oct-19 20:07:09

What on earth has it got to do with anyone else? Leave them alone.

oldgimmer1 Sun 20-Oct-19 20:30:26

@far: why would you use a plural pronoun tjough?

If you're talking about Paul coming, surely you should use "he" ie:

Paul is coming for dinner. What would HE like to drink?

Not:

Paul is coming for dinner. What would THEY like to drink.? hmmconfused.

It's about pandering to the gender-neutral agenda.

FarNorth Sun 20-Oct-19 22:13:14

It's about pandering to the gender-neutral agenda.

Absolutely, it is.

annep1 Sun 20-Oct-19 22:19:06

Its just a silly nonsense!

Tangerine Sun 20-Oct-19 22:49:48

Perhaps a completely new pronoun needs to be invented. I agree "they" and "their" indicates more than one person.