More Suggestions for Writing Gender-Neutral Pronouns

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Previously, I posted some suggestions for avoiding generic masculine pronouns. Here are some less common ways to avoid them.  I'll use the same gender-biased sentence, "A lawyer should frame his arguments in persuasive language," to illustrate the suggested changes. 

            1.  Replace the male-linked pronoun with "a," "an," or "the."  "A lawyer should frame an argument in persuasive language."

            2.  Use "who," which does not indicate gender: "A lawyer who frames an argument in persuasive language is more likely to win."

            3.  Repeat the noun to avoid the need for a pronoun.  This works best with passages that are longer than a single sentence.  "A lawyer should frame an argument in persuasive language.  By doing so, the lawyer is more likely to win."

            4.  Use a synonym to avoid the need for a pronoun.  This also works best with a longer passage.  "A lawyer should argue in persuasive language.  By doing so, an attorney is more likely to win."  Use caution with this option, though; in legal writing, it is usually best to avoid confusion by referring to the same concept with the same language.

            Added to my earlier suggestions, these hints provide a variety of ways to avoid generic masculine pronouns.  By alternating among them and choosing the best option for the context, writers can craft graceful, unobtrusive gender-neutral language.

 

                                    --The Word Aficionado