he / she ... why not 'it'?

@ocalhoun (199)
United States
August 27, 2007 10:36am CST
When I write, I try to refer to animals as 'he' or 'she'. When I don't know the gender of the animal, I have to use 'it'. Instead of saying, "A horse is happy when he/she is..." I could say, "A horse is happy when it is..." It's a good system. Then, I thought, why not apply it to humans as well? Instead of saying, "A person is whole when he/she is..." You could say, "A person is whole when it is..." I find the 'it' version to be much more concise and elegant, but technically it is grammatically incorrect. Should it be made grammatically correct, so that people can use this new version?
3 responses
• United States
27 Aug 07
Instead of using "it" when refering to people I often hear "they" or "them" used. I am not sure if it i grammatically correct or not, but it is stressed since you stay away from sexist language. So, yeah, using "it," "they", or "them" should be grammatically correct.
@Malyck (3428)
• Australia
27 Aug 07
I agree, I use 'they' or 'them' for people, and generally it or some-such for animals or inanimate objects. As far as I know it's taught as grammatically (and politically) correct so as not to be exclusive.
@ocalhoun (199)
• United States
4 Sep 07
Unfortunately, using 'them' or 'they' is not correct either, because it gets the pluralization wrong. It is incorrect to use 'they' to refer to a single individual. Although this is often seen, any grammar teacher or book will warn against it.
@sanju21 (135)
• United States
27 Aug 07
Yes sometimes while writing about in general, I get exhausted by typing so many time he/she and I seldom think why not I can use some simple word like 'it'But then maybe some will think that we will lose the human dignity because 'it' is generally referred for animals or non living things.
@ocalhoun (199)
• United States
4 Sep 07
I think you've found the real problem against implementing this here; 'human dignity'. But what is the fundamental difference between an animal and a human that makes 'it' appropriate for use on animals, but not for humans?
@foxyfire33 (10009)
• United States
27 Aug 07
The he/she issue is a bit cumbersome. I don't think I would want to start using "it" for people though. Tv's and computers are its. Shirts and boots are its. Many things that we would not like being compared to people are called "it". If given a choice between the two options I will stick with the less concise he/she. I do tend to use "they" and "them" in place of he/she quite often though depending on what I'm doing. I know it isn't grammatically correct though. I had one of those English tachers that had to have everything exactly perfect even if it went against our regional "dialects"-I doubt that's the right word either, I just mean the little quirks in the way we speak because of where we live. She had huge issues with people using "they" or "them" in place of he/she (even if we were talking). That was over 15 years ago and I still remember the way she pounded into our heads over and over that "they" and "them" are PLURAL! They can NOT be used to refer to one person. That one person IS a he or a she and so we MUST address them as such...let's just say we all had a few ways we WANTED to address her lol!