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Pronoun conundrum

BenCottoBenCotto RutlandPosts: 3,596
edited 22 April in The potting shed
If folk want to call themselves ‘they’ rather than ‘he’ or ‘she’ I have no issues. But this is the query: is it they likes gardening or they like gardening? 
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  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 8,482
    I'd say the latter
    I don't think one person can likes anything
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 77,275
    edited 22 April
    Pete.8 said:
    I'd say the latter
    I don't think one person can likes anything
    But that's the problem isn't it?  It should be he likes, she likes ... they like ... but that's when they is used as a plural ... when it's used as a singular pronoun does it take a plural form of the verb or not?

    What the English language really needs is a new, non-gender specific, singular pronoun ... oh, hang on ... there is one ... it's 'it' isn't it?  

    But that doesn't really suit does it?  It feels a bit pejorative ...  :/
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 8,482
    All I remember is  
    amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant and agricola :)

    'They likes it' just doesn't sound right though. Why use the plural of like when speaking to a single person?
    You wouldn't say 'do you likes it?' to a group of people either. So my vote is for singular like
    'They like it' singular or plural sounds fine
    So until everyone agrees with what new word should be used instead of they... God help us

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 6,967
    @B3 - that made my tea splutter all over the place🤣
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • TheGreenManTheGreenMan Tyne & Wear Green Belt Posts: 1,497
    Lots of words to describe people. 

    Many spring to mind. 

    Using “they like” etc is not difficult. 

    They are a tw*t/bigot/wazzock etc also easy. 
  • BenCottoBenCotto RutlandPosts: 3,596
    edited 22 April
    @TheGreenMan, I don’t think your comment is a resolution. As @BlueBirder says, in colloquial speech people often use they when talking about an individual but, I have to say, I am fairly certain I would reconfigure my sentence so as not to have this discordance. In your two examples I know I would say ‘that person is ...’ or ‘that gardener is ...’

    I still think we are far from reaching a consensus here. You are taking to your brother about a mutual friend called Hilary who likes to be addressed as they. “I was talking to Hilary just now. They say/says that ....”  Which? The verb that sounds right or the verb which acknowledges it is one person not more than one? 

    Bluebirder, you say in your second paragraph you would opt for “they says that” “as we do often in regular speech”. Do we?
  • KT53KT53 Posts: 6,414
    Pete.8 said:


    'They likes it' just doesn't sound right though.


    I agree, but you hear it all the time around here, and it's been that way since long before non-binary folks appeared.  That's the West of England for you :-)
  • ErgatesErgates Devon, east of ExeterPosts: 1,488
    This will probably get me cancelled, but there always used to be three acceptable singular pronouns, he, she and it, the last one used when you didn’t know or weren’t sure which applied. I’d really struggle to say ‘they says’ instead of they say, to indicate that I was referring to a singular person. Just bad grammar.
    Can’t get round it by saying ‘one of them said’, that definitely sounds inappropriate. I’d just have to keep using their given name, which sounds strangely formal.
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