The Reading / Listening - The Pronoun 'They' - Level 6

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



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

Try the same news story at these easier levels:

    The Pronoun 'They' - Level 4  or  The Pronoun 'They' - Level 5

Sources
  • https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2019/09/17/merriam-webster-adds-non-binary-prounoun-they-dictionary/
  • https://edition.cnn.com/2019/09/17/us/merriam-webster-nonbinary-pronoun-they-trnd/index.html
  • https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/they


Make sure you try all of the online activities for this reading and listening - There are dictations, multiple choice, drag and drop activities, crosswords, hangman, flash cards, matching activities and a whole lot more. Please enjoy :-)



Warm-ups

1. PRONOUNS: Students walk around the class and talk to other students about pronouns. Change partners often and share your findings.
2. CHAT: In pairs / groups, talk about these topics or words from the article. What will the article say about them? What can you say about these words and your life?
       reference / definition / list / gender / welcome news / institutions / gender / female /
       they / conform / male / language / pronouns / singular / playwright / battle / casual
Have a chat about the topics you liked. Change topics and partners frequently.
3. ENGLISH GRAMMAR: Students A strongly believe English grammar should be simplified; Students B strongly believe otherwise.  Change partners again and talk about your conversations.
4. GRAMMAR: What is difficult about these grammar points? What is the best way to master them? Complete this table with your partner(s). Change partners often and share what you wrote.

 

Difficulties

How To Master Them

Pronouns

 

 

Articles

 

 

Conjunctions

 

 

Prepositions

 

 

Verbs

 

 

Adjectives

 

 

MY e-BOOK
ESL resource book with copiable worksheets and handouts - 1,000 Ideas and Activities for Language Teachers / English teachers
See a sample

5. DICTIONARY: Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word "dictionary". Share your words with your partner(s) and talk about them. Together, put the words into different categories.
6. PRONOUN TYPES: Rank these with your partner. Put the most difficult pronouns to use at the top. Change partners often and share your rankings.

  • Subject pronouns
  • Object Pronouns
  • Possessive pronouns
  • Demonstrative pronouns
  • Reflexive pronouns
  • Interrogative pronouns
  • Relative pronouns
  • All pronouns

 

Vocabulary

    Paragraph 1

      1. reference a. Describe oneself as belonging to a particular category or group.
      2. definition b. An established official organization having an important role.
      3. binary c. The use of a source of information in order to find out something.
      4. identify d. Denoting or relating to a person who does not identify themselves as having a fixed gender.
      5. institution e. A statement of the exact meaning of a word, especially in a dictionary.
      6. accommodate f. Relating to, composed of, or involving two things.
      7. gender fluid g. Fit in with the wishes or needs of.

    Paragraph 2

      8. conform h. Relaxed and without formality.
      9. expected i. Behave according to socially acceptable conventions or standards.
      10. struggled j. Regard something as likely to happen.
      11. singular k. A person who writes plays.
      12. playwright l. Of a word or form denoting or referring to just one person or thing.
      13. battle m. Tried very hard to achieve or attain something in the face of difficulty.
      14. casual n. A long fight between large organized armed forces.

 

Before reading / listening

1. TRUE / FALSE: Read the headline. Guess if 1-8 below are true (T) or false (F).

  1. The article says Merriam-Webster is the biggest dictionary company.    T / F
  2. 'They' refers to a single person whose gender identity is non-binary.     T / F
  3. Some airlines have a gender choice of 'X' for gender-neutral people.     T / F
  4. Gender fluid people are those who switch between different genders.     T / F
  5. Merriam-Webster found it easy to describe gender-neutral people.     T / F
  6. The article said the first use of 'they' as a singular pronoun was in 1598. T / F
  7. Shakespeare never used 'they' as a singular pronoun.     T / F
  8. Merriam-Webster says most people use the singular 'they' today.     T / F

2. SYNONYM MATCH: Match the following synonyms from the article.

  1. definition
  2. famous
  3. identify
  4. growing
  5. switch
  6. conform
  7. struggled
  8. way
  9. today
  10. casual
  1. relate
  2. nowadays
  3. increasing
  4. informal
  5. battled
  6. meaning
  7. manner
  8. follow
  9. renowned
  10. transition

3. PHRASE MATCH: (Sometimes more than one choice is possible.)

  1. a single person whose gender identity
  2. welcome
  3. incorporated a gender-
  4. introduced the gender choice
  5. gender
  6. who seemed to be neither
  7. used as a singular pronoun since
  8. in the early
  9. No man goes to battle
  10. in casual
  1. 17th century
  2. fluid people
  3. the late 1300s
  4. is non-binary
  5. to be killed
  6. neutral option
  7. conversation
  8. of "X"
  9. male nor female
  10. news

Gap fill

Put these words into the spaces in the paragraph below.
institutions
choice
lists
switch
definition
themselves
identify
local

The reference book company Merriam-Webster has added a new (1) ____________ of the pronoun "they" to its famous Webster's Dictionary. It now (2) ____________ the word "they" as referring to a "single person whose gender identity is non-binary". This will be welcome news for those who (3) ____________ neither as male nor female - people with non-binary identities. Many (4) ____________ have already incorporated a gender-neutral option into their official forms. A growing number of (5) ____________ governments, schools and airlines have introduced the gender (6) ____________ of "X" to accommodate people who do not consider (7) ____________ as male or female, and for gender fluid people who (8) ____________ between different genders.

Put these words into the spaces in the paragraph below.
struggled
casual
place
century
battle
conform
singular
play

Merriam-Webster stated that the use of "they" in (9) ____________ of "he" or "she" recognizes people who did not "(10) ____________ to an expected gender expression, or who seemed to be neither male nor female". It added: "We've (11) ____________ to find the right language to describe these people, and in particular, the right pronouns." It points out that the word "they" has been used as a (12) ____________ pronoun since the late 1300s. William Shakespeare used it in this way in the early 17th (13) ____________. In 1898, the playwright George Bernard Shaw wrote in his (14) ____________ Antony and Cleopatra that: "No man goes to (15) ____________ to be killed....But they do get killed." Merriam-Webster says that today, "nearly everyone uses the singular "they" in (16) ____________ conversation".

Listening — Guess the answers. Listen to check.

1)  The reference book company Merriam-Webster has added a new ______ pronoun
     a.  definite shun of the
     b.  definition of the
     c.  deaf ignition of the
     d.  deft in nation of the
2)  It now lists the word "they" as referring to ______
     a.  a singular person
     b.  a single person
     c.  a singles person
     d.  a singled person
3)  those who identify neither as male nor female - people with ______
     a.  non-binary identities
     b.  not-binary identities
     c.  now-binary identities
     d.  nor-binary identities
4)  institutions have already incorporated a gender-neutral option into ______
     a.  their officially forms
     b.  their official form
     c.  their official forms
     d.  their officially form
5)  people who do not consider themselves as male or female, and for ______ people
     a.  gender fluidity
     b.  gender fluids
     c.  gender fluid
     d.  gender fluidic

6)  in place of "he" or "she" recognizes people who did ______
     a.  not confirm
     b.  not con farm
     c.  not conifer am
     d.  not conform
7)  We've struggled to find the right language to ______ people
     a.  describe these
     b.  describe them
     c.  describe they
     d.  describe those
8)  It points out that the word "they" has been used as a ______
     a.  singularity pronoun
     b.  singles pronoun
     c.  singular pronoun
     d.  singularize pronoun
9)  William Shakespeare used it in this way in the ______
     a.  early 17th centuries
     b.  early 17th centurion
     c.  early 17th centenary
     d.  early 17th century
10) says that today, "nearly everyone uses the singular "they" in ______"
     a.  casual conversation
     b.  causal conversation
     c.  castle conversation
     d.  crystal conversation

Listening — Listen and fill in the gaps

The reference book company Merriam-Webster (1) ___________________ new definition of the pronoun "they" to its famous Webster's Dictionary. It now (2) ___________________ "they" as referring to a "single person whose gender identity is non-binary". This will (3) ___________________ for those who identify neither as male nor female - people with non-binary identities. Many institutions (4) ___________________ a gender-neutral option into their official forms. A (5) ___________________ local governments, schools and airlines have introduced the gender choice of "X" to accommodate people who do not consider themselves as male or female, and for gender (6) ___________________ switch between different genders.

Merriam-Webster stated that the use of "they" in place of "he" or "she" recognizes people who (7) ___________________ to an expected gender expression, or who seemed to be neither male nor female". It added: "We've struggled to find the right (8) ___________________ these people, and in particular, the right pronouns." It points out that the word "they" has been used as a singular pronoun (9) ___________________ 1300s. William Shakespeare used it in (10) ___________________ the early 17th century. In 1898, the playwright George Bernard Shaw wrote in his play Antony and Cleopatra that: "No man goes to battle (11) ___________________....But they do get killed." Merriam-Webster says that today, "nearly everyone uses the singular "they" (12) ___________________".

Comprehension questions

  1. What kind of company did the article say Merriam-Webster was?
  2. What kind of gender identity does the pronoun "they" now encompass?
  3. What kind of news did the article say this might be?
  4. What alternative gender choice did airlines give on forms?
  5. What do gender-fluid people switch between?
  6. What did Merriam-Webster say it had struggled to find?
  7. Since when has "they" been used in the singular?
  8. Who used "they" as a singular pronoun in the 17th century?
  9. What famous play was mentioned in the article?
  10. When do most people use "they" in the singular?




Multiple choice quiz

1) What kind of company did the article say Merriam-Webster was?
a) a gender-neutral company
b) a lexicographer
c) a reference book company
d) a dictionary company
2) What kind of gender identity does the pronoun "they" now encompass?
a) non-binary
b) anyone
c) everyone
d) male or female
3) What kind of news did the article say this might be?
a) fantastic news
b) welcome news
c) bad news
d) breaking news
4) What alternative gender choice did airlines give on forms?
a) Q
b) Z
c) Y
d) X
5) What do gender-fluid people switch between?
a) different prepositions
b) different articles
c) different genders
d) different drinks

6) What did Merriam-Webster say it had struggled to find?
a) the right page
b) the right language
c) some software
d) the right balance
7) Since when has "they" been used in the singular?
a) the early-to-mid 1600s
b) the mid 1500s
c) the early 1400s
d) the late 1300s
8) Who used "they" as a singular pronoun in the 17th century?
a) the UK's Prime Minister
b) Shakespeare
c) King James
d) Queen Elizabeth I
9) What famous play was mentioned in the article?
a) Death of a Salesman
b) Antony and Cleopatra
c) Romeo and Juliet
d) Joan of Arc
10) When do most people use "they" in the singular?
a) in casual conversation
b) in the mornings
c) at restaurants
d) when they are tired

Role play

Role  A – Subject Pronouns
You think subject pronouns are the most difficult to master. Tell the others three reasons why. Tell them why their pronouns are easier. Also, tell the others which are the easiest of these (and why): possessive pronouns, reflexive pronouns or relative pronouns.

Role  B – Possessive Pronouns
You think possessive pronouns are the most difficult to master. Tell the others three reasons why. Tell them why their pronouns are easier. Also, tell the others which are the easiest of these (and why): subject pronouns, reflexive pronouns or relative pronouns.

Role  C – Reflexive Pronouns
You think reflexive pronouns are the most difficult to master. Tell the others three reasons why. Tell them why their pronouns are easier. Also, tell the others which are the easiest of these (and why): possessive pronouns, subject pronouns or relative pronouns.

Role  D – Relative Pronouns
You think relative pronouns are the most difficult to master. Tell the others three reasons why. Tell them why their pronouns are easier. Also, tell the others which are the easiest of these (and why): possessive pronouns, reflexive pronouns or subject pronouns.

After reading / listening

1. WORD SEARCH: Look in your dictionary / computer to find collocates, other meanings, information, synonyms … for the words...

'pronoun'

  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • and 'they'.

  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • • Share your findings with your partners.

    • Make questions using the words you found.

    • Ask your partner / group your questions.

    2. ARTICLE QUESTIONS: Look back at the article and write down some questions you would like to ask the class about the text.

    •Share your questions with other classmates / groups. •Ask your partner / group your questions.

    3. GAP FILL: In pairs / groups, compare your answers to this exercise. Check your answers. Talk about the words from the activity. Were they new, interesting, worth learning…?

    4. VOCABULARY: Circle any words you do not understand. In groups, pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find their meanings.

    5. TEST EACH OTHER: Look at the words below. With your partner, try to recall how they were used in the text:

    • place
    • right
    • points
    • way
    • play
    • casual
    • book
    • lists
    • welcome
    • option
    • number
    • consider




    Student survey

    Write five GOOD questions about this topic in the table. Do this in pairs. Each student must write the questions on his / her own paper. When you have finished, interview other students. Write down their answers.

    (Please look at page 12 of the PDF to see a photocopiable example of this activity.)

    Discussion - The word 'they' is now also a singular pronoun

    STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)

    1. What did you think when you read the headline?
    2. What images are in your mind when you hear the word 'pronoun'?
    3. What do you think of dictionaries?
    4. What are the good and bad things about dictionaries?
    5. What do you think of pronouns?
    6. What do you think of using 'they' in the singular?
    7. How good is it that dictionaries are recognizing non-binary people?
    8. What do you think of the choice 'X' instead of 'male' or 'female'?
    9. Should languages not have gender-based pronouns?
    10. What do you know about gender fluidity?

    STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student A)

    1. Did you like reading this article? Why/not?
    2. What do you think of when you hear the word 'dictionary'?
    3. What do you think about what you read?
    4. What is your favorite dictionary?
    5. How difficult is the pronoun system in English?
    6. What are gender pronouns like in your language?
    7. What is the function of pronouns?
    8. What different types of pronoun are there in English?
    9. How important is using grammar correctly in conversation?
    10. What questions would you like to ask the dictionary?

    Discussion — Write your own questions

    STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)

    (a) ________________

    (b) ________________

    (c) ________________

    (d) ________________

    (e) ________________

    STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student A)

    (f) ________________

    (g) ________________

    (h) ________________

    (i) ________________

    (j) ________________





    Language — Cloze (Gap-fill)

    The (1) ____ book company Merriam-Webster has added a new definition of the pronoun "they" to its famous Webster's Dictionary. It now (2) ____ the word "they" as referring to a "single person whose gender identity is non-binary". This will be (3) ____ news for those who identify neither as male nor female - people with non-binary identities. Many institutions have already (4) ____ a gender-neutral option into their official forms. A (5) ____ number of local governments, schools and airlines have introduced the gender choice of "X" to accommodate people who do not consider themselves as male or female, and for gender (6) ____ people who switch between different genders.

    Merriam-Webster (7) ____ that the use of "they" in place of "he" or "she" recognizes people who did not "conform to an expected gender expression, or who seemed to be neither male nor female". It added: "We've (8) ____ to find the right language to describe these people, and in particular, the right pronouns." It points (9) ____ that the word "they" has been used as a singular pronoun since the (10) ____ 1300s. William Shakespeare used it in this way in the early 17th century. In 1898, the (11) ____ George Bernard Shaw wrote in his play Antony and Cleopatra that: "No man goes to battle to be killed....But they do get killed." Merriam-Webster says that today, "nearly everyone uses the singular "they" in (12) ____ conversation".

    Which of these words go in the above text?

    1. (a)     referential     (b)     reference     (c)     refer     (d)     referred    
    2. (a)     lusts     (b)     lists     (c)     lasts     (d)     lost    
    3. (a)     congratulations     (b)     greetings     (c)     please     (d)     welcome    
    4. (a)     papered     (b)     incorporated     (c)     cracked     (d)     reasoned    
    5. (a)     grown     (b)     growing     (c)     growth     (d)     grows    
    6. (a)     fluidity     (b)     fluids     (c)     fluid     (d)     fluidic    
    7. (a)     slated     (b)     skated     (c)     stated     (d)     sated    
    8. (a)     written     (b)     listed     (c)     struggled     (d)     handled    
    9. (a)     of     (b)     in     (c)     up     (d)     out    
    10. (a)     late     (b)     past     (c)     passed     (d)     old    
    11. (a)     playwright     (b)     play light     (c)     play right     (d)     play write    
    12. (a)     causal     (b)     castle     (c)     casual     (d)     crystal

    Spelling

    Paragraph 1

    1. The rferenece book company
    2. a new nfiieitdon of the pronoun
    3. whose gender identity is non-ianbry
    4. Many sinttutioins have already
    5. a gender-nrteual option
    6. the gender choice of "X" to mamaeotoccd people

    Paragraph 2

    1. an expected gender ensproxies
    2. We've gseutdglr to find the right language
    3. used as a ugnlsari pronoun
    4. in the early 17th cetrnyu
    5. the yltpiawhgr George Bernard
    6. in slauac conversation

    Put the text back together

    (...)  nor female - people with non-binary identities. Many institutions have already incorporated a gender-neutral
    (...)  17th century. In 1898, the playwright George Bernard Shaw wrote in his play Antony and
    (...)  introduced the gender choice of "X" to accommodate people who do not consider themselves
    (...)  says that today, "nearly everyone uses the singular "they" in casual conversation".
    (...)  option into their official forms. A growing number of local governments, schools and airlines have
    (...)  Webster's Dictionary. It now lists the word "they" as referring to a "single person whose gender
    (...)  Cleopatra that: "No man goes to battle to be killed....But they do get killed." Merriam-Webster
    (...)  Merriam-Webster stated that the use of "they" in place of "he" or "she" recognizes people who did not "conform to an
    (...)  identity is non-binary". This will be welcome news for those who identify neither as male
    (...)  "they" has been used as a singular pronoun since the late 1300s. William Shakespeare used it in this way in the early
    1  ) The reference book company Merriam-Webster has added a new definition of the pronoun "they" to its famous
    (...)  find the right language to describe these people, and in particular, the right pronouns." It points out that the word
    (...)  expected gender expression, or who seemed to be neither male nor female". It added: "We've struggled to
    (...)  as male or female, and for gender fluid people who switch between different genders.

    Put the words in the right order

    1. definition   Added   of   "they"   .   new   a   pronoun   the
    2. identity   gender   is   whose   single   A   non-binary   .   person
    3. incorporated   a   already   have   Institutions   option  .  gender-neutral
    4. have   introduced   the   choice   "X"   .   of   gender   Airlines
    5. fluid   people   between   switch   different   who   genders   .   Gender
    6. "she"   "He"   conform   .   people   recognizes   or   didn't   who
    7. language   .   right   We've   struggled   the   find   to
    8. the   singular   as   Used   late-1300s   .   since   a   pronoun
    9. battle   to   be   goes   man   killed   .   No   to
    10. singular   casual   Everyone   "they"   the   in   uses   conversation   .

    Circle the correct word (20 pairs)

    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".

    Talk about the connection between each pair of words in italics, and why the correct word is correct.

    Insert the vowels (a, e, i, o, u)

    T h_ r_f_r_n c_ b__ k c_m p_n y M_r r__ m - W_b s t_r h_s _d d_d _ n_w d_f_n_t__ n _f t h_ p r_n__ n " t h_y " t_ _t s f_m__ s W_b s t_r ' s D_c t__ n_r y . I t n_w l_s t s t h_ w_r d " t h_y " _s r_f_r r_n g t_ _ " s_n g l_ p_r s_n w h_s_ g_n d_r _d_n t_t y _s n_n - b_n_r y " . T h_s w_l l b_ w_l c_m_ n_w s f_r t h_s_ w h_ _d_n t_f y n__ t h_r _s m_l_ n_r f_m_l_ - p__ p l_ w_t h n_n - b_n_r y _d_n t_t__ s . M_n y _n s t_t_t__ n s h_v_ _l r__ d y _n c_r p_r_t_d _ g_n d_r - n__ t r_l _p t__ n _n t_ t h__ r _f f_c__ l f_r m s . A g r_w_n g n_m b_r _f l_c_l g_v_r n m_n t s , s c h__ l s _n d __ r l_n_s h_v_ _n t r_d_c_d t h_ g_n d_r c h__ c_ _f " X " t_ _c c_m m_d_t_ p__ p l_ w h_ d_ n_t c_n s_d_r t h_m s_l v_s _s m_l_ _r f_m_l_, _n d f_r g_n d_r f l__ d p__ p l_ w h_ s w_t c h b_t w__ n d_f f_r_n t g_n d_r s .

    M_r r__ m - W_b s t_r s t_t_d t h_t t h_ _s_ _f " t h_y " _n p l_c_ _f " h_" _r " s h_" r_c_g n_z_s p__ p l_ w h_ d_d n_t " c_n f_r m t_ _n _x p_c t_d g_n d_r _x p r_s s__ n , _r w h_ s__ m_d t_ b_ n__ t h_r m_l_ n_r f_m_l_" . I t _d d_d : " W_' v_ s t r_g g l_d t_ f_n d t h_ r_g h t l_n g__ g_ t_ d_s c r_b_ t h_s_ p__ p l_, _n d _n p_r t_c_l_r , t h_ r_g h t p r_n__ n s . " I t p__ n t s __ t t h_t t h_ w_r d " t h_y " h_s b__ n _s_d _s _ s_n g_l_r p r_n__ n s_n c_ t h_ l_t_ 1 3 0 0 s . W_l l__ m S h_k_s p__ r_ _s_d _t _n t h_s w_y _n t h_ __ r l y 1 7 t h c_n t_r y . I n 1 8 9 8 , t h_ p l_y w r_g h t G__ r g_ B_r n_r d S h_w w r_t_ _n h_s p l_y A n t_n y _n d C l__ p_t r_ t h_t : " N_ m_n g__ s t_ b_t t l_ t_ b_ k_l l_d . . . . B_t t h_y d_ g_t k_l l_d . " M_r r__ m - W_b s t_r s_y s t h_t t_d_y , " n__ r l y _v_r y_n_ _s_s t h_ s_n g_l_r " t h_y " _n c_s__ l c_n v_r s_t__ n " .

    Punctuate the text and add capitals

    the reference book company merriamwebster has added a new definition of the pronoun they to its famous websters dictionary it now lists the word they as referring to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary this will be welcome news for those who identify neither as male nor female people with nonbinary identities many institutions have already incorporated a genderneutral option into their official forms a growing number of local governments schools and airlines have introduced the gender choice of x to accommodate people who do not consider themselves as male or female and for gender fluid people who switch between different genders

    merriamwebster stated that the use of they in place of he or she recognizes people who did not conform to an expected gender expression or who seemed to be neither male nor female it added weve struggled to find the right language to describe these people and in particular the right pronouns it points out that the word they has been used as a singular pronoun since the late 1300s william shakespeare used it in this way in the early 17th century in 1898 the playwright george bernard shaw wrote in his play antony and cleopatra that no man goes to battle to be killedbut they do get killed merriamwebster says that today nearly everyone uses the singular they in casual conversation.

    Put a slash (/) where the spaces are

    ThereferencebookcompanyMerriam-Websterhasaddedanewdefinit
    ionofthepronoun"they"toitsfamousWebster'sDictionary.Itnowlistst
    heword"they"asreferringtoa"singlepersonwhosegenderidentityisno
    n-binary".Thiswillbewelcomenewsforthosewhoidentifyneitherasm
    alenorfemale-peoplewithnon-binaryidentities.Manyinstitutionshav
    ealreadyincorporatedagender-neutraloptionintotheirofficialforms.
    Agrowingnumberoflocalgovernments,schoolsandairlineshaveintrod
    ucedthegenderchoiceof"X"toaccommodatepeoplewhodonotconside
    rthemselvesasmaleorfemale,andforgenderfluidpeoplewhoswitchbe
    tweendifferentgenders.Merriam-Websterstatedthattheuseof"the
    y"inplaceof"he"or"she"recognizespeoplewhodidnot"conformtoanex
    pectedgenderexpression,orwhoseemedtobeneithermalenorfemale"
    .Itadded:"We'vestruggledtofindtherightlanguagetodescribethesep
    eople,andinparticular,therightpronouns."Itpointsoutthattheword"t
    hey"hasbeenusedasasingularpronounsincethelate1300s.WilliamSh
    akespeareuseditinthiswayintheearly17thcentury.In1898,theplaywr
    ightGeorgeBernardShawwroteinhisplayAntonyandCleopatrathat:"
    Nomangoestobattletobekilled....Buttheydogetkilled."Merriam-Web
    stersaysthattoday,"nearlyeveryoneusesthesingular"they"incasualc
    onversation".

    Free writing

    Write about pronoun 'they' for 10 minutes. Comment on your partner’s paper.

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    Academic writing

    There should be just one subject personal pronoun. Discuss.

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    Homework

    1. VOCABULARY EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or Google's search field (or another search engine) to build up more associations / collocations of each word.
    2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find out more about this news story. Share what you discover with your partner(s) in the next lesson.
    3. PRONOUNS: Make a poster about pronouns. Show your work to your classmates in the next lesson. Did you all have similar things?
    4. GRAMMAR: Write a magazine article about simplifying the whole of English grammar. Include imaginary interviews with people who are for and against this.
    Read what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Write down any new words and expressions you hear from your partner(s).
    5. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? Write a newspaper article about the next stage in this news story. Read what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Give each other feedback on your articles.
    6. LETTER: Write a letter to an expert on pronouns. Ask him/her three questions about them. Give him/her three of your opinions of the pronoun system in English. Read your letter to your partner(s) in your next lesson. Your partner(s) will answer your questions.

    Answers

    (Please look at page 26 of the PDF to see a photocopiable example of this activity.)

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