The UVic Writer's Guide

The Generic Pronouns: He, His, And Him

Because English lacks a singular pronoun that signifies the non-specific "he or she," the tradition has been to use the masculine pronoun. The following guidelines show how to avoid this usage.

Although many people still find it objectionable, there is increasing evidence that the construction "Anyone. . . their" (as in "Anyone can have their cake and eat it too") is becoming acceptable. There is something to recommend this solution--it is simple and it does not create ambiguity--but those who use it should be aware that some readers will consider the sentence grammatically incorrect.

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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated May 13, 1995