WordReference Collins English Usage © 2017
he - she - they
‘he’
He, him, his, and himself are sometimes used to refer back to an indefinite pronoun or to a word such as person, child, or student.
If anybody complained about this, he was told that things would soon get back to normal.
It won't hurt a child to have his meals at a different time.
Many people object to this use because it suggests that the person referred to is male.
‘he or she’
You can sometimes use he or she, him or her, his or her, or himself or herself.
A parent may feel that he or she has nothing to give a child.
Anyone can call himself or herself a psychologist, even if untrained and unqualified.
Many people avoid these expressions because they think they sound clumsy and unnatural, especially when more than one of them is used in the same sentence.
In writing, some people use s/he to mean he or she.
‘they’
Most people use they, them, and their.
Everyone thinks they know what the problems of living with a teenager are.
Often when we touch someone we are demonstrating our love for them.
Don't hope to change anyone or their attitudes.
This use used to be considered incorrect, but it is now the most common form in both spoken and written English, and is used in formal and informal writing.
It is often possible to avoid all the above uses. You can sometimes do this by using plurals. For example, instead of saying ‘Every student has his own room’, you can say ‘All the students have their own rooms’. Instead of saying ‘Anyone who goes inside must take off his shoes’, you can say ‘People who go inside must take off their shoes’.
'he' also found in these entries:
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