One of our great accomplishments in recent days is pushing for more acceptance of people who are different from us.

Not that every one has accepted everyone, but there has been some movement toward that end.

Recently, gender-fluid people have become more vocal about their rights and that’s good.

I’m all about diversity, even though I’m about as diverse as a blank sheet of paper. I’m plain. I’m simple. I’m vanilla. But that doesn’t mean I’m against people who are not. In fact, I’m in awe of them because they are fun and much more interesting than I am.

There is a side issue that has come up, though, that I find concerning.

Nonbinary people request we refer to them as “they” instead of “he” or “she.” This offends me, not as a human being, but as a grammar enthusiast.

Grammatically speaking, it’s just wrong.

There’s been a trend for a long time — or is it ignorance of the laws of grammar — to use a plural pronoun in place of a singular one, even when the singular is called for. For example, if the person in question hasn’t been indentified, even by gender, we call that person a “they.” But that is wrong, because there is only one of them, not more than one. That’s why this construction had been used for years:

“I don’t care who you hire, just as long as he or she is qualified.”

You also could say:

“I don’t care who you hire, just as long as the person is qualified.”

If you insist on using “they,” you must be talking about hiring more than one person.

As I learned in school, language is a living thing that changes to accommodate those who use it. Sometimes, though, it seems as though language changes because people are ignorant of what’s right, so they proceed to use it incorrectly and eventually, people like me throw up their hands and give up, caving to the ignorance.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Now, we know using a plural pronoun to represent a singular noun is wrong. It’s also wrong to be disrespectful of those who are different from us.

So how is this resolved?

We need a new word that’s gender nonspecific to be a pronoun. What would that word be? It doesn’t matter to me, as long as it doesn’t violate the rules of grammar.

(606) 326-2661 |

lward@dailyindependent.com

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