Lazy Writers are Politically Correct

The overuse of third person plural pronouns (they, them, their) is a sure sign of a lazy writer. Take a look at your own writing and you’ll see whether you take the easy way out or not. If you do, you shortchange your reader.

Pronouns refer to antecedents (nouns). A noun names a person, place, or thing. When a noun names a person, it makes sense to employ a pronoun to offer some variety. How awful it would be to read something like “A teacher teaches writing to the teacher’s class.” Much better to say “A teacher teaches writing to her class.”

But we’ve become so afraid of being politically incorrect that we no longer follow the rule of agreement between pronoun and antcedent. In the example above, teacher is singular and so is the pronoun she.The problem is “she” doesn’t include male teachers, thus it is politically incorrect.

Lazy writers decide to simply write “A teacher teaches writing to their class.” Their is plural, which means it doesn’t agree with the noun (antcedent), but it is politically correct. Who cares if the only one offended is the reader?

All it would take to rewrite the example to reflect agreement is “Teachers teach writing to their classes.” BOOM! Problem solved–pronoun and antecedent agree and no one gets offended.

The next time you’re reading a book and it’s riddled with politically correct pronouns that don’t agree with their antecedents, you’ll see how lazy the writer was.

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