8.1 Pronouns (possessive, object and subject)
A few years ago people started paying attention to the resentment which many women feel towards the use of 'he' and 'him' as pronouns for general use, and now we are trying to avoid this usage. Because this is a relatively new concern, and because English developed upon the foundation that included this sexist feature, even native speakers sometimes find it difficult to avoid being sexist. These days many writers use a plural pronoun to refer to a singular noun (see Practical English Usage, Swain, "507 singular and plural (8): distributive plural"), but many other writers think this is an awkward solution.
Here are some methods for avoiding sexist language. Usually, not all will work
for one situation. You might have to recast the sentence to allow use of the
1. Use the passive voice so that you don't have to use a subject for the verb.
If a student reads the book carefully he will understand its main points.
If the book is read carefully its main points will be understood.
A student learns a language well only if the student involves himself or herself actively in learning.
A student learns a language well only if the student become involved actively in learning.
2. Use the plural form of the referent noun so that you can use the plural
form of pronouns.
If the author intends to use survey to support his claim, he might be selective in targeting.
If some authors intend to use a survey to support their claims, they might be selective in targeting.
3. Repeat the referent noun (when another noun comes between the first and second mention of the referent).
When a student asks the teacher to give less homework, it means that the student doesn't have enough time.
4. Use 'one' as a pronoun. (If 'one' is used more than once, it may sound pretentious or awkward; vary 'one' with 'a person' and other synonyms, as in 5 below.)
When one asks the teacher to give less homework, it means that that person doesn't have enough time.
5. Use a synonym for the referent noun instead of a pronoun.
If a person doesn't give money to a beggar we might think this miser is very cruel.
6. Recast the sentence or the paragraph.
If the reader has some knowledge about Korea's socio-economic situation in the 30 and 40s, he will better understand...
With some knowledge about Korea's socio-economic situation in the 30s and 40s, the reader will better understand...
8.2 'Man' instead of 'people'
Use the word 'people' when you mean more than one person. 'Man' is used only
when speaking of all humans in general, or mankind.