singular they

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English[edit]

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Noun[edit]

singular they (uncountable)

  1. (grammar) The use of they to agree to with a singular antecedent as in the sentence "Everyone said they knew what they were doing."

Usage notes[edit]

The singular they is considered non-standard English by many, but the construction is widely used by many educated speakers and writers (both contemporary and historic), thus many advocate its use to avoid the accusation of sexist language or stilted language by substituting "he" or "he or she".