Editor’s Note: The Daily Californian adopts singular ‘they’

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The Daily Californian has adopted the use of “they” and “their” as singular pronouns.

The Senior Editorial Board approved the style change to avoid the clunkiness of “she/he” and “his/her,” as well as to avoid perpetuating the gender binary in our way of writing. The singular “they” may appear in general references to an unnamed subject and references to gender-queer or gender-nonconforming individuals who do not identify with the pronouns “she” or “he.”

Daily Cal writers and editors will, when reasonable, rephrase sentences as plural to maintain the conventional use of “they” as a plural pronoun. We recognize that grammatical principles provide a foundation for coherent communication.

Yet, we believe in prioritizing the functionality and inclusivity of language above its adherence to traditional rules. When we write and edit, we aim to cut away extraneous words and assumptions. Adopting the singular “they” aligns with both of these purposes, as it facilitates concision and eschews the assumption that only two gender identities — male and female — require accommodation.

This decision is not without precedent. The style change follows The Washington Post’s decision to allow the singular “they.” In fact, “they” in singular form already permeates casual speech to the extent that its use in journalistic writing should create no serious impediment to a reader’s understanding.

We welcome feedback and discussion regarding this topic, so don’t hesitate to comment or contact me at [email protected]. Embracing the evolution of grammar, after all, requires accepting that any new style rule, including this one, can be made and made again in our pursuit of more perfect expression.  

Melissa Wen is the editor in chief and president. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @melissalwen.