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Our staff manual writer’s situation is a great example of how useful it is to know several strategies so you can choose the one that best fits your current writing context.If it works for your particular sentence, using plural forms is often an excellent option.As we discussed at the beginning of this handout, the practice of using masculine pronouns (“he,” “his,” “him”) as the “default” is outdated and will confuse or offend many readers.So what can you do when you’re faced with one of those gender-neutral or gender-ambiguous language situations? In situations where a pronoun needs to refer to a person whose gender isn’t known, writers sometimes use “he or she” or “he/she” (or even “s/he”), “her/him,” etc., as we did in the example just above.And using “she or he” or similar constructions can also inadvertently exclude people who do not refer to themselves using either pronoun.
“Mr.” can refer to any man, regardless of whether he is single or married, but “Miss” and “Mrs.” define women by whether they are married, which until quite recently meant defining them by their relationships with men.
Check a thesaurus for alternatives to gendered nouns not included in this list.
Sometimes writers modify nouns that refer to jobs or positions to indicate the sex of the person holding that position.
But there are a number of different strategies you can “mix and match” as necessary.
“Man” and words ending in “-man” are the most commonly used gendered nouns in English.
English has changed since the Declaration of Independence was written.