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March 18, 2004



Thanks for the tag to the article, Crawford. Someone at Poynter made the same point you did about the grammatical accuracy of the headline. So I've added a usage note.


Ummm...no grammatical error. According to Canadian OED it's a disputed use that is gaining in use in spoken and written English. And, according to CP, it's now acceptable to use the plural to refer to the singular he or she. Of course, careful writers get around it by restructuring their sentence to avoid it, and the awkwardness of "his or her."

John Hayter

In fact the use of 'their' and 'they' with a singular verb has a long and respectable tradition - that is, if you rate Jane Austen as a good model of English usage. See http://www.crossmyt.com/hc/linghebr/austheir.html for an interesting discussion.

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