I have a question for Simon


To "have a good shape" could be used in very specific circumstances where you are talking about the actual shape of the object or person, not alluding to the health or fitness of it, him or her.


Thank you so much for the great answer and I was wondering if him or her refers to it as an appostion? Is it okay to call people "it"? Thank you so much as usual and have a good day.

asked Mar 25 '13 at 00:36 Hans Contributor

2 answers


"it" refers to an object (or an animal).

"him or her" refers to a person.


You never call people "it". (An exception can be made for a baby where its gender isn't known or is irrelevant. "A baby was crying. It sounded very cross.")


If you don't know the gender of the person you would say "him or her" or "he or she" or "his or hers" as appropriate for the context. If you don't want to say "him or her", "he or she" or "his or hers", you can pretend the person is plural and use "they", "them"or "their" instead, but some people don't like this.

link comment answered Mar 25 '13 at 12:40 Simon Jones Expert

Adding to Simon's answer....


Using "they", "them", or "their" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun is controversial. While it is finding acceptance in British and Canadian English, it remains a faux pas in formal American English.


There are many more artful ways of being gender neutral than resorting to either "he or she" or "they."


This forum's archives contain several lengthy discussions that provide better examples.

link comment answered Mar 26 '13 at 04:52 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

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