As you are probably aware, our contemporary English content is now available through (, and our old English dictionary site no longer exists.

As a result of this, this forum is now closed.

The English dictionary community team would like the opportunity to say a huge thanks to all of you who participated by posting questions and helping other community members.
We hope this forum was useful, and that you enjoyed being a part of it.

If you would like to get in touch with any OED-related queries, please write to
[email protected]

And if you would like to contribute suggestions to the OED, please do so by visiting:

Thank you very much indeed, and good bye!
The community team

Correct grammar associated with singular "they" pronoun

Specifically for referring to non-binary identifying individuals. When somebody speaks in third person using "he" or "she" pronouns, obviously singular words such as "is," "has" or "does" could likely follow the pronoun. For examples, "she is studying for the test," or "he does not enjoy hiking." However, I've found that when a person who prefers "they/them" pronouns is the subject, people normally use plural indicative words such as "are," "have" or "do," even when "they" in this context is singular. Logically, you would say "they is" and "they does" when talking about a non-binary individual, even if it might sound awkward, right?


  • I presume non-binary us is the same as when they is used to mean 'he or she'.
    Some people object to the usage, and others avoid it anyway.
    Personally, I'm happy to say

    Whoever it is, tell them that they're late.

    although I wouldn't write it — except in a very informal note.

    I'm pretty sure that those who use singular they always use PLURAL AGREEMENT — with one exception.

    That exception (for some of us) is the unconventional reflexive/emphatic pronoun themself — which some consider ungrammatical and many would avoid anyway.

    No man or woman should consider themself inferior.
    Tell the man or woman who wrote this that they'll have to defend it themself.

    This pronoun is so unconventional that I would avoid it in all but the most informal speech.

Sign In or Register to comment.