Possessive noun for genderless word

3

1

I have a genderless word (a student), but I need to use the possessive pronoun for it. I think of four possibilities: their, his/her, her, and its.

  • When a student has a process, the student can improve it from their experience or other's feedbacks.
  • When a student has a process, the student can improve it from his/her experience or other's feedbacks.
  • When a student has a process, the student can improve it from her experience or other's feedbacks.
  • When a student has a process, the student can improve it from its experience or other's feedbacks.

What are the best, allowable, and non-allowable usage?

prosseek

Posted 2016-12-23T19:11:37.680

Reputation: 461

3Use anything except its. Their is acceptable, his/her is awkward and old-fashioned, his is considered sexist by some, and her refreshingly unconventional. – Mick – 2016-12-23T19:29:19.537

Answers

4

The singular "their" is often preferred if you have no other choice. There are several other options:

  1. Use the second person:

    If as a student, you have a process, you can improve it from your own experience or other's feedback.

  2. Use the imperative form:

    When a student has a process, improve it from experience or other's feedback.

  3. Use the passive voice:

    A student's process can be improved from student experience or other feedback.

  4. Reuse the noun:

    When a student has a process, it can be improved from the student's experience or other feedback.

  5. Use the plural:

    When students develop processes, they can improve them from their experience or other feedback.

If you can it's best to rewrite the sentence to entirely avoid the need for a gendered pronoun. There is a bit of an "art" to this that improves with practice:

Student-developed processes can be improved through experience or feedback.

"His/her" is not usually recommended, and using the female singular "her" can be distracting and seem "politically correct". Plus, it's still not "gender-neutral".

Finally (and despite the possible views of school administrations) it's not appropriate to refer to students as objects by using "it", even if you don't like them. :)

More info

Andrew

Posted 2016-12-23T19:11:37.680

Reputation: 85 521