Reply to comment about "The singular “they” is gaining acceptance"


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Thank you for your question! Yes, that’s right, in the example “Chris should take their books,” the possessive “their” refers to Chris. The example is illustrating how to refer to a person who doesn’t identify as either male or female and therefore prefers the gender-neutral “they” to “he” or “she.”

But as you have recognized, there’s a strong risk of confusion from this use of singular “they.” So if the context does not provide enough clarity, the Language Portal would recommend using another solution to avoid “he” or “she”: repeat the person’s name; for example, “Chris brought Chris’s books.” This solution will be repetitious, but it will accommodate the wishes of the non-binary person without creating confusion.