Sexist or Bad Grammar?
“Every blogger should mind their language.“
Do you find the sentence grammatically incorrect? :( I might change it to, “Everybody should mind their language.”
Sounds better but still incorrect because in the English language the masculine is usually used for general cases.
If we say, “Every blogger should mind HIS language.“, that would be factually incorrect, because 50.9% of bloggers are women.
I generally try to change it to something like, “All bloggers should mind their language.” But when in a hurry, I feel I would rather be grammatically incorrect than be sexist.
This table explains it better,
When using indefinite pronouns (e.g. someone, anyone, nobody etc.), the antecedent verb should be singular.
|1. “Every blogger should mind their language.“
“Everybody should mind their language.”
|INCORRECT but is being increasingly used to avoid the mistakes below.
|2. Every blogger should mind HIS language.
|Correct, but sexist.
|3. Every blogger should mind HER language.
|Technically correct only if all bloggers are female.
|Or change the sentence.
4. All bloggers should mind their language.
|Correct but the basic problem is not solved.
I prefer the first one Languages must evolve and change if they are to survive, and I feel English is good at evolving. If thou can become you, why can’t his or her in such sentences become their?
I find it simpler to use ‘their’ in place of ‘his’ or ‘her’, and for now given a choice between being sexist or using bad grammar – I choose bad grammar.
And there is every chance that this is how our grand children are going to speak.
[Check this blog post on 20th June 2050. ]