Many writers and speakers engage in semantic gymnastics to avoid any hint (in their minds) of bias. One consequence is that the person often violates a basic rule of grammar. A perfect example involves the pronoun their. You might see (or hear) a sentence like this:
“A friend of mine needs new tires on their car.”
Subject(s) and pronoun(s) must agree in number. A singular subject requires a singular pronoun. Your choices are his, her and its. (Remember that its does not have an apostrophe.)
It’s obvious from the above example that only one person is involved. It’s also obvious that the writer/speaker knows the gender of automobile owner. There is nothing wrong with using the appropriate gender-specific pronoun.
“A friend of mine needs new tires on his car.”
“A friend of mine needs new tires on her car.”
We must rid ourselves of this notion that it is somehow wrong to use the pronouns his and her. They have their place in our language. Using the proper pronoun adds clarity to your copy, and helps you maintain high standards of grammar.
What examples of semantic gymnastics have you read or heard? Feel free to leave a comment below. If you found value in this post, please share it so others may benefit from what you and I have written. You may use any of the following buttons. To contact me, send an email.