Word Pairs


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The [reference / refer] book company Merriam-Webster has added a new definition of the pronoun "they" to its [famously / famous] Webster's Dictionary. It now [lasts / lists] the word "they" as referring to a "single person whose [gender / gander] identity is non-binary". This will be welcome news for those who identify neither as male [not / nor] female - people with non-binary identities. Many [instructions / institutions] have already incorporated a gender-neutral [option / caption] into their official forms. A growing number of [local / locally] governments, schools and airlines have introduced the gender [choose / choice] of "X" to accommodate people who do not consider themselves as male or female, and for gender [fluid / flew] people who switch between different genders.

Merriam-Webster [slated / stated] that the use of "they" in place of "he" or "she" recognizes people who did not "[confirm / conform] to an expected gender expression, or who [seemed / seems] to be neither male nor female". It added: "We've struggled to find the [right / write] language to describe these people, and in [peculiar / particular] , the right pronouns." It points out that the word "they" has been used as a singular pronoun since the [past / late] 1300s. William Shakespeare used it [in / on] this way in the early 17th century. In 1898, the playwright George Bernard Shaw [wrote / written] in his play Antony and Cleopatra that: "No man goes to battle to be [died / killed] ....But they do get killed." Merriam-Webster says that today, "nearly everyone uses the singular "they" in [causal / casual] conversation".

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