The Singular “They”

The use of the singular “they” has grown in acceptance and use, recently having made it into the dictionary as an official word form: It’s worth reading about, since anyone working in publishing, writing books, articles, blog posts, etc., may find the need to adapt his or her or their writing to incorporate this usage.

I confess I’ve been late to the table on this one. As a publishing professional, I try to be very consistent when it comes to style. I don’t want multiple styles across my website or in the books I’m editing. I want a consistent and grammatically correct style.

This, to a traditionalist like myself, makes accepting the singular “they” in formal writing (as opposed to daily speaking) a challenge. It feels grammatically incorrect . . . and it often is. Or was? With mainstream publications adopting its use and the “official” word from Merriam-Webster, it may still feel awkward to use it, but it’s technically no longer incorrect. MW is my official resource when it comes to spelling and usage. When editing a book, whichever spelling MW uses is the one I’ll use. The author prefers something different? Well, maybe if it’s the second entry. Otherwise, we have our “house style and spelling” and it’s based on MW.

So, as MW has evolved, so will this website. So if you see a plural pronoun used for the singular, it reflects the author’s preference.

And, if you are curious: he/him/his.

The Zack Company, Inc.