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As a non-native English speaker, I‘m getting somewhat confused by the grammar of the book.

Is „If a character does something, they suffer ...“ correct? Back in school, they told me „they“ is plural, not singular.

As this is all over the place, it seems intentional. 

Can anybody shed some light on this?

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In this instance IT IS plural.  With my wife being from the Philippines, I get these kinds of questions all the time. Before I married her, I never really had to think about why these things are correct. To people here in the US it just sounds right, so we don't think about it. 

In this wording when they say "THEY" they mean any character... so it is plural, even though they say "a character" which is probably the confusing part. When it is worded like this, think of it as "when any character does they, they suffer..." 

I am afraid it is one of those things that is kind of weird in the rules. :)

 

Edited by BrashFink

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Sorry you may want to re-read also... I edited that post like 5 times.

Glad to help. It kind of made me smile because I have to try to explain things like this all the time now. A lot of the times I have to go and look up exactly what the reasoning is. HAHA.

 

Edited by BrashFink

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Because English doesn’t have a gender neutral singular pronoun for a person (just him/her, he/she, and it) "they" has been gradually gaining acceptance as the pronoun to use when you don’t know the gender of the person you are talking about. 

It is still far from universally accepted, however, even among native speakers. 

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1 hour ago, Forgottenlore said:

Because English doesn’t have a gender neutral singular pronoun for a person (just him/her, he/she, and it) "they" has been gradually gaining acceptance as the pronoun to use when you don’t know the gender of the person you are talking about. 

It is still far from universally accepted, however, even among native speakers. 

Right. Technically, the grammatically correct wording would be "When a character [blank] he [blanks]." In English the masculine pronoun is used for singular nouns where the gender is unknown. However, in common speech "they" is usually used as a replacement. You'd be marked off on a school essay for it, but everybody will understand what you mean.

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6 hours ago, Forgottenlore said:

Because English doesn’t have a gender neutral singular pronoun for a person (just him/her, he/she, and it) "they" has been gradually gaining acceptance as the pronoun to use when you don’t know the gender of the person you are talking about. 

It is still far from universally accepted, however, even among native speakers. 

This has been happening to placate a few very noisy, very insecure people. It makes proper grammatical expression and comprehension..... difficult <and they said I couldn't be politically correct>

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On 12/26/2017 at 9:16 PM, Forgottenlore said:

Because English doesn’t have a gender neutral singular pronoun for a person (just him/her, he/she, and it) "they" has been gradually gaining acceptance as the pronoun to use when you don’t know the gender of the person you are talking about. 

It is still far from universally accepted, however, even among native speakers. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they#Usage

It's not exactly new. Singular they has been in use for hundreds of years *at least*.

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From dictionary.com…

Quote

Long before the use of generic he was condemned as sexist, the pronouns they, their, and them were used in educated speech and inall but the most formal writing to refer to singular indefinite pronouns or singular nouns of general personal reference (which are often not felt to be exclusively singular): If anyone calls, tell them I’ll be back soon. A parent should read to their child. Such use is not a recent development, nor is it a mark of ignorance. Shakespeare, Swift, Shelley, Scott, and Dickens, as well as many other English and American writers, have used they and its related case forms torefer to singular antecedents. Already widespread in the language (though still rejected as ungrammatical by some), this use of they, their, and them is increasing in all but the most conservatively edited American English. This increased use is at least partly impelled by the desire to avoid generic he or the awkward he/she and he or she when the antecedent’s gender is not known or when the referent is of mixed gender: The victim had money and jewelry taken from them. It’s hard to move an aging mother or father from their long-term home. 

However, while use of they and its forms after singular indefinite pronouns or singular nouns of general personal reference or indefinite gender is common and generally acceptable, their use to refer to a single clearly specified, known, or named person is uncommon and likely to be noticed and criticized, as in this example: My hair stylist had their car stolen. Even so, use of they, their, and them is increasingly found in contexts where the antecedent is a gender-nonconforming individual or one who does not identify as male or female: Tyler indicated their preferences on their application. 

And although they may be used as a singular pronoun, they still takes a plural verb, analogous to the use of "you are" to refer to one person: The student brought in a note to show why they were absent.

Sorry for the weird line spacing. This is pretty much a straight cut-and-paste job.

Edited by Simon Retold

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