Twitter Or Dictionary? Which One Do You Follow For The Correct Grammar?

The diving use of ‘they’ as a singular pronoun has ignited a twitter debate and grammar pedant Andy Smarick was aggrieved when he spotted this message from the Merriam Webster Dictionary: “The astute may have noticed a difference in our feed, our social media manager is away, but he’ll be returning soon.”





To this, Mr. Smarwick jockingly replied: “I won’t be baited into a pronoun agreement fight.” And explained: “The singular ‘they’ is an affront to grammar. Language rules are all that separate us from animals. We must stand firm.”

Here’s what the dictionary account replied: “Then you’re talking to the wrong dictionary- we’re descriptivist. We follow language, language doesn’t follow us.”




Last December, the American Dialect Society (ADS) opted for ‘singular they’ as their Word of the Year and added: “‘They’ was recognized by the society for its emerging use as a pronoun to refer to a known person, often as a conscious choice by a person rejecting the traditional gender binary of he and she.”

Chairperson of the New Words Committee of the ADS, Ben Zimmer added: “In the past year, new expressions of gender identity have generated a deal of discussion, and singular ‘they’ has become a particularly significant element of that conversation. While many novel gender-neutral pronouns have been proposed, ‘they’ has the advantage of already being part of the language.”