Author: Kirby Conrod, Writing for

Kirby Conrod received their PhD in linguistics from the University of Washington and is currently a visiting assistant professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College. Their research focuses on the syntax and sociolinguistics of pronouns and nonbinary language. You can find them on Twitter @kirbyconrod, and they also blog about pronouns, linguistics, and higher ed at their Medium blog

Why did the AP style guide say it’s OK to write “Some student forgot their backpack” but suggests that writers avoid “Aiden forgot their backpack” in the same 2017 update? Why can some people say “That driver didn’t use their blinker” but not “Alex never uses their blinker” without getting confused or mixing up pronouns? Or, more relevant to many of us who aren’t journalists: what’s going on with this “Dear Amy” letter in which an advice-seeker writes, “Dear Amy, I am fine addressing someone whatever gender-identification they prefer. What I object to is the use of ‘they’ as a singular pronoun.” You…

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