As vocabulary and usage shift beneath our feet, it becomes a challenge to make informed and appropriate editorial decisions. Embrace or shun singular "they"? Abandon or hold fast to "whom"? Does the "comprise/compose" distinction still work?
Nearly three years ago, I wrote an article for this newsletter titled “The Case for Singular They.” [See our October–November 2012 issue. –Ed.] I took what I felt was a controversial stand, arguing that if a writer wants to use singular they, we should let them. Although it still may be a controversial stand, it seems that we may have reached a tipping point in the argument about gender-neutral pronouns.
Last week, I introduced the idea that copyeditors need more than a pedestrian understanding of grammar and that what we got in grade school is sorely outdated. This week, I look at some features of modern grammars and some good resources for catching up with the times.