Posted by: Jack Henry | October 11, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Special Edition

Hello there, folks! Over the years, we in the Symitar Editing group have been watching, listening, and waiting for the world to produce a gender-neutral pronoun. What am I talking about? I’m talking about when we are writing, and we want to refer to an individual without any reference to the person’s gender.

Well, my friends, the wait is over. No, there isn’t some newly invented term. Merriam-Webster has officially approved the word “they” as a singular pronoun (instead of he or she).

Now as a grammar geek and word nerd, I was hoping we’d come up with something new and exciting, you know, like Esperanto. You don’t know Esperanto? Exactly. But you do know “they” and “them” and “their.” And a lot of people already use those pronouns accidentally when talking about a single person.

For example:

  • The person in Accounting takes the spreadsheet and forwards it to their manager.

Formerly, this would be rewritten, to the following:

  • The person in Accounting takes the spreadsheet and forwards it to his or her manager.

Let’s look at some other examples of what will now be considered correct:

  • Chris wants you to review the paper they wrote.
  • “Each employee must fill out their forms,” instead of “Each employee must fill out his or her forms.”
  • If Terry wants it, give it to them.
  • The employee finished their project ahead of schedule.
  • The librarian’s friend came with them to the luncheon.
  • The soccer player gave their teammates a high five.
  • Jack asked their coworker not to wear perfume to work.

To read the entire article from Merriam-Webster, click here. For a good rule of thumb going forward, when you are writing and come to a place where you’d normally write or say “he or she,” you can use “they.” When you’d normally use “him or her,” you can use “them.” And lastly, when you might use “his or hers,” you can use “their.” It may sound odd at first, but in the end, it will make a lot of people happy: people who already use the formerly incorrect pronoun, nonbinary people, and people paid to update dictionaries and other written materials!

The Jack Henry Style Guide will be updated in the upcoming months, complete with examples of this new standard.

And, as today is National Coming Out Day, I am happy to announce that JHA’s newest business innovation group (BIG) is here! PRISM@JHA is designed particularly for LGBTQIA+ employees, but everyone is welcome to join. Send an email to PRISM for more information.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services


  1. […] few weeks ago, I announced Merriam-Webster’s addition of they/them/their as singular, non-binary pronouns. In response, my manager sent me an interesting article on the […]

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