Gender-Inclusive Language (GIL)

Use gender-inclusive language when appropriate.

Avoid using language that apparently excludes women when you actually mean to include them. Use humanity or humankind instead of man or mankind. Do not use he or him or his to refer to a generic person. Instead, alternate male and female pronouns, use both pronouns together, or switch to a plural construction. (But do not use s/he, which is a non-word, or she/he, which is clumsy.) Please note that in some cases, you would be distorting the past by using gender-inclusive language. If you are writing about American voters in the 1830s, for instance, it would be misleading to write about men and women casting ballots.

For more help with this issue, see section 9d of the Pocket Style Manual.

Wrong: In order to become a full member of the congregation, a Puritan had to tell about his conversion experience.

Right: In order to become a full member of the congregation, a Puritan had to tell about his or her conversion experience.

Right: In order to become full members of the congregation, Puritans had to tell about their conversion experiences.

Wrong: In order to become a full member of the congregation, a Puritan had to tell their conversion story.

Comment: Their is a plural pronoun. Do not use it when referring to a singular noun or pronoun (in this case, Puritan).

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