Padilla: They

Obiter Dictum

THAT'S the word of the year 2020 as declared by US linguists.

They. THEY is used or will be used to refer to a person whose gender is non-binary. Though some may prefer S/HE. The third person plural is now used or can be used as a singular form.

Choosing the word THEY as the word of the year may not create a big impact as the tension between Iran and the US but by acknowledging personal expression of gender identity, it will broaden shared discourses.

The use of they though can be tricky as we known the word THEY to be a plural pronoun - a word that is used to describe multiple people, places or things. THEY were all drunk, for example. But THEY is also a chameleon and can be used as a singular pronoun or a gender-neutral pronoun. Here's an example: Each customer should clean up THEIR table at all 7/11 stores. Here, THEIR is used.

In trying to learn how to use THEY I struggled how to use the singular THEY to refer to one person. So for example, if I write about Pinx, who is a non-binary person (meaning not exclusively masculine or feminine) I would write it as: "Pinx inaugurated their small grocery at Pantukan last year. They also offer spaces for local produce." The singular THEY still takes a plural verb form.

It is wrong grammar-ing to write it as: "They also OFFERS spaces for local produce." It would be easy to choose which pronoun to use for someone that we already know but if we do not and have no way of asking, THEY is a really smart pronoun to use. For example, Sam always seems to be a man's name but Sam can also be Samantha. So, when writing to Sam, let's say asking for an appointment through a staff, one can write: "...I would like to meet Sam at their most convenient time or they may reach me at this number..." However, it would be best to ask and even rake through the net for Sam's sex or gender.

The prevalence of many platforms for communication does not assure the clear communication. The proper use of pronouns and addressing true gender identities is seen as a respect for other people. As it is, language or clearer and better communication is always a good and inexpensive way to start a new decade.


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