David E asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 8 years ago

Can "them" be used to replace a singular noun?

I recently got a permission slip daughter's school. It contained the sentence: "If your child misbehaves on the band trip, you will have to drive to Dallas to pick them up." I think that it contains a mistake because them is used to replace child. Child is singular. Them is plural. The sentence should have been written: "If your child misbehaves on the band trip, you will have to drive to Dallas to pick him up." From what I understand "him" is singular and can be both masculine and neuter. there seems to be some issues with using him in these times if increased awareness of the need for gender equality. I suppose that we as parents of a girl might have thought this was wrong since our child is "her". Parents of boys might have been offended because they might think that the statement implied that any child who misbehaved would likely be male. How do you think the question should have been written?

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  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    You seem to be correct. It should have been "him or her", or the beginning of the sentence should have referred to any "children" that misbehave.

  • RE
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    You are right that it is incorrect, but you will see it used more and more often to bypass the issue of gender. In the past we would probably have restructured the sentence to read:

    "If any children misbehave on the band trip, their parents will have to drive to Dallas to pick them up."

    But high school children don't like to be called children these days.

    So the final version might have been:

    If any students misbehave on the band trip, their parents will have to drive to Dallas to pick them up.

  • Master
    Lv 5
    8 years ago

    It is correct, because it's speaking to parents as a whole, rather than just one person.

    So imagine the principal/head teacher standing on a stage telling all the parents that.

    It's quite hard to explain, but 'them' is correct.

    Source(s): English
  • 8 years ago

    :) u already have the answer, it s correct

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