He or she and they

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In English, he is traditionally used in cases where the sex of the person is not known, or in references that can apply to either men or women.

A lot of people now regard this usage as sexist and try to avoid it. The expression he or she is becoming increasingly common.


In an informal style, we often use they to mean ‘he or she’. This is particularly common after words like somebody, anybody, nobody and person. Grammarians often consider this usage incorrect, but it has been common in educated speech for centuries.

See Also

Had better
...hardly ...when/before ...
Has been
Have or have got
Have vs Having
Hear and listen
He, she or they
How and what like?
However, yet, still, though
How ever and however

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