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  • I consider it a logical extension of singular they, and I’ve used it on occasion. Not in formal contexts, though. In an earlier post on pronoun problems I called it non-standard, but I’d like to see its profile and status rise.

  • As a Bristol resident, I’m never quite sure what sort of English to expect. A city where ‘Listen to him’ becomes ‘Ark at ‘e’…

  • I think we have to accept that language evolves. first changes are always considered informal and they slowly become accepted and standarised. I bet this is what will happen to “themself” although I am not so certain about the other plural forms ( as there doesn´t seem to be much point in using them). Yet, time will tell…

  • On checking my (language) blog I find I’ve used it (rightly or wrongly) three times:

    ‘This could be … by the speaker themself in the same utterance’
    ‘It’s as though the speaker is thinking of themself as somebody else …’
    ‘Say whether the person mentioned should necessarily do it themself, Yes or No.’

    I did wonder when the spell checker turned it down, but ‘themselves’ would have sounded strange to me here.

  • I had forgotten ‘themself’ and it makes perfect sense! We were advised as English students long, long ago that if we didn’t want to specify gender then it was perfectly acceptable to use the plural pronoun with a singular noun, as in “the child wanted to visit the zoo by themselves”. I often wondered why ‘themself’ wasn’t recommended. Now that you’ve reminded me of its usefulness, I am going to use it regularly. I had forgotten how well it sits with me!

  • We recently got a leaflet through the letterbox. It’s called Checkatrade, and lists a few supposedly reputable tradespeople in our area. It also has a little form you can fill in to recommend tradespeople who’ve given you a good service, or for tradespeople to request inclusion in future leaflets. The box they have to tick has the rubric: “I am a local trades person who consider themselves reputable”. They’ve resolutely kept the verb agreeing with the singular “I” (though personally I’m a person who considers that they shouldn’t have), but either way, there’s a terrible tangle here. …a local trades person who considers themselves… sounds almost as bad as …a local trades person who consider themselves… but neither is in any way elegant. “Themself” might help out here, but the simplest solution would be to label the box “I am a reputable local sales person” and avoid the issue altogether.