≡ Menu

A solution to the writer’s “his or her” dilemma: Use the male pronoun only, but italicize it

In drafting contract forms, it always feels a bit too politically correct to write generic male-female sentences like “the Employee will devote his or her full time and attention to his or her duties ….” Yet that seems to be the norm these days. (At least that’s better than the excruciating variation, “the Employee will devote their full time and attention ….”)

The Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church has had the answer for decades if not centuries: Use the male pronoun only, but italicize it, to signal that it’s a variable — it could be male, female, or plural, as the case may be. (See, e.g., the baptism service at BCP page 309.)

Nowadays just about everyone uses word processors and printers that can easily product italic type. So now the sentence in question in the contract form can read, “the Employee will devote his full time and attention to his duties,” with italics in the original.

{ 0 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.