How to refer to a person whose gender is unknown?

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Writers often struggle with how to refer to a person whose gender is unknown. 

Consider the sentence “Each student submitted his or her art portfolio to the committee.”

The his or her structure is clumsy, and many writers avoid it by using a plural form: “All the students submitted their art portfolio to the committee.”

So how to refer to a person whose gender is unknown? A solution can be used – the singular they/their. “Each student submitted their art portfolio to the committee.”

The American Psychological Association’s blog officially recommended this approach in October 2019, and now the Merriam-Webster has included they as one of its words of the year for 2019.

Merriam-Webster has included they as one of its words of the year for 2019
Merriam-Webster has included they as one of its words of the year for 2019
Cecilie Tejnø