Date: Fri, 22 Sep 1995 15:38:22 EDT


Subject: copy-ed re web usage urrl (fwd)

Personally, I think that "they" should always take a plural

verb. Other languages that use pronouns interchangeably as

either singular or plural, depending on the context, always

conjugate the verb in the plural. E.g. "Vous" in French is

always conjugated the same way (root + "ez", e.g. "chantez"),

You don't need to go to other languages for examples. The

English pronoun "you" was originally plural only. Now it's

plural and singular, but the verb is still plural. I see no

reason to believe that "they" will behave differently if it

becomes standard as a singular. "They is" doesn't seem to be

catching on.

The only change I think likely with singular "they" is the

development of the reflexive "themself" (versus "themselves"

in the plural), parallel to "yourself".

Not just _themself_ and _yourself (sg.)_ but also _ourself_, for reflexives

whose antecedent is the editorial or royal _we_: "We do not consider ourself

above the law". Here again, verb agreement is obviously plural.