>One of the things I have been emphasizing with my students (I teach freshman composition in a community college) is noun-pronoun agreement. The rule as stated in Bryan Garner’s Modern American Usage is “Where it can’t be avoided, resort to it cautiously because some people may doubt your literacy” The justification for allowing disagreement usually involves avoidance of sexist language, but in my eyes that’s a lazy writer’s excuse.
So I was disappointed today when I received a donation solicitation from One Story magazine that included this option:
Editor: $100 – I’ll pay one author for their story
And there we have noun-pronoun disagreement from a respected magazine. Is solecism preferable to sexism? Maybe, but why not go the extra word or two and avoid the problem? “I’ll pay an author for one story,” or even “I’ll pay one author for a story.” There are lots of options. Fortunately, my students are not likely to see this, and so I may be able to preserve my credibility at least until the end of the semester.