Using They Instead Of He Or She

In English, he is traditionally used in cases where the sex of the person is not known, or in references that can apply to either men or women.

  • If I ever find the person who did that, I will kill him.
  • A doctor can’t do a good job if he doesn’t like people.

A lot of people now regard this usage as sexist and try to avoid it. The expression he or she is becoming increasingly common.

  • A doctor can’t do a good job if he or she doesn’t like people.


In an informal style, we often use they to mean ‘he or she’. This is particularly common after words like somebody, anybody, nobody and person. Grammarians often consider this usage incorrect, but it has been common in educated speech for centuries.

  • If anybody wants my ticket, they can have it.

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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