The over 200 linguists of the American Dialect Society have named singular „they“ Word of the Year 2015. After all, everyone uses singular they, whether they realize it or not.
The use of singular they has long been frowned upon by grammarians despite its widespread use, not only in American speech but throughout the English-speaking world. In fact, singular they is well documented in literature–from Shakespeare to Jane Austen–and has been around for a very long time.
If you’re not sure what is meant by singular they, have a look at this example sentence: „If anyone calls, tell them I’m not here.“ In the past, at least when it comes to the written word, prescriptivists and style guides would have insisted writers use either „he“ or „she“, e.g., „If anyone calls, tell him I’m not here.“ Now how weird does that sound?
Check out this interesting write-up in the Washington Post to find out more about why the ADS has taken the unanimous decision to embrace the use of singular they: