Guidelines for Nonsexist UsageWriter's Web
(printable version here)

Some professors and executives consider the use of the gendered pronouns "his" and "her" inappropriate. The university has also issued a directive that faculty educate students about this issue.

Often these questions will arise when pronouns such as "each," "everyone," "either," or "neither" appear in a sentence. Some tips follow for making usage more inclusive:

  • Avoid gender entirely by rewriting the sentence, avoiding the pronoun or using plurals whenever possible:
    • Neither student gave his homework to the teacher ---> Neither of the students gave homework to the teacher.
  • Use "his or her" in place of "his" or "s/he" in place of "he" or "she" Note: This can sound a bit awkward:
    • Everyone on the scene gave his or her version of the accident.
    • When you visit the Writing Center, ask your Consultant if s/he has taken an FYS class.
  • Use a specific noun instead of a pronoun:
    • A man who loves his family must support it. ---> Parents who love their families must support them.
    • Exception: A father who loves his family must support it. (Here, one wants to make a point about fathers).
  • Use "their" with a single noun:
    • Everyone was concerned about their grades.
    • Beware: this usage of "their" is not grammatically correct: it pairs a noun that should take a singular pronoun with a plural pronoun.
    • Do not use this last method without a professor's approval.

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