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What pronoun should be used when the noun referred to could be either male or female, i.e., he or she and their variant forms?
Using his/her, he/she, s/he, or him/her in every paragraph is annoying and awkward, but it is one solution to the question of ambiguous gender and the use of pronouns. The other may make some cringe, but the majority of English-speakers already quite naturally use their (and them and they, as the context requires). So it is ok to say: It is important for doctors to keep their patients' records confidential. / Studying the techniques by which celebrated writers achieved their success can stimulate any writer faced with similar problems. The use of their is natural and confuses no one. It is not sloppy or ignorant, but rather reflects social awareness that not everyone wants to be referred to by one gender or another. Another solution is to rewrite a sentence to avoid using a pronoun altogether. Example: Each doctor should send one nurse to the workshop. You could also vary pronoun choice when you want to give examples emphasizing the action of an individual. Ideally, you should choose pronouns that work counter to prevailing stereotypes. Example: The kitchen can serve as a center for new experiences, where he has a chance to learn about the way adult things are done. One last alternative is to switch from the third person (he) to the second person (you) or a "you understood" when this shift is appropriate for what you are writing. Example: You should report your decision to the school by May 1.