Writing Glitch #209

Today’s second glitch:


Themselves is plural — you know that, right? If you have adopted the use of they as a gender-neutral singular pronoun, the correct form here is themself, because it refers to one person.

A character finds themself lost in a forest at night. They have limited light with them, but the heavy fog makes it impossible to know where they are going.


About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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3 Responses to Writing Glitch #209

  1. I am somewhat confused. Who are “they”?


    • I’m not sure I understand your question.

      In the example, “they” is used as a singular (rather than plural) pronoun, referring back to “a character.” I know that’s vague, but the example is one of those “writing prompt” things and deliberately doesn’t give specifics such as name — or gender, which is why there was a need for a gender-neutral singular pronoun in the first place.

      Does that clear it up?


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