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Subject-Verb Agreement

In speaking, we commonly use “they” to stand for one person, but in writing the error becomes noticeable to intelligent readers.

To avoid the dilemma and to demonstrate your intelligence, use plural nouns whenever possible:

• people rather than one person
• students rather than a student
• zombies rather than that zombie 
• vampires rather than this vampire

If you must use a singular, non-gender specific noun once, use he or she, or she or he:

 An outsider must choose whether he or she will risk being ostracized.

If you must use a singular, non-gender specific noun repeatedly, use s/he or alternate he and she.

A client may request certain privileges, but s/he will not always receive them for reasons beyond his or her understanding. She may want heated towels, or he may request a bar tab, but neither…


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