Gender-Neutral and Gender-Free Language

Flashcards

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Step 2: Click Next button again to show the "After" Plain English revision.
Repeat Steps 1 and 2. (Read also "The US Supreme Court and Gender-Neutral Language.")
British Colubia Securities Commission Plain Language Style Guide

The traditional use of the masculine pronouns (he or his to stand for both masculine and feminine) is no longer used in modern business or legal writing.
“Gender-neutral language” advocates sometimes use “he or she” or “him or her.” Their occasional use may be non-intrusive, but their repetitive use distracts and annoys readers.

“Gender-free language” is preferable.
1. Eliminate the reference to the object.

Before:

A well-advised insider will do his best to provide for anticipated changes.

A well-advised insider will do his or her best to provide for anticipated changes.
After:

A well-advised insider will provide for anticipated changes.
Or, use the plural:

Before:

A well-advised insider will do his best to provide for anticipated changes.

A well-advised insider will do his or her best to provide for anticipated changes.
After:

Well-advised insiders will do their best to provide for anticipated changes.
2. Replace his with “the” or “a.”

Before:

This letter describes requirements that apply after a registrant receives his certificate.

This letter describes requirements that apply after a registrant receives his or her certificate.
After (gender-free)

This letter describes requirements that apply after a registrant receives the certificate.
3. Use the plural instead of the singular.

Before

The borrower who is not prompt in making the payments due under his mortgage risks losing his home through a foreclosure procedure.

The borrower who is not prompt in making the payments due under his or her mortgage risks losing his or her home through a foreclosure procedure.
After (gender-free)

Borrowers who are not prompt in making the payments due under their mortgages risk losing their homes through foreclosure procedures.
4. Recast the sentence to eliminate the possessive reference.

Before:

If a salesperson has been involved with money laundering, his registration will be cancelled.

If a salesperson has been involved with money laundering, his or her registration will be cancelled.
After (gender-free)

The Commission will cancel the registration of a salesperson engaging in money laundering.
"Plain Language: A Handbook for Writers in the US Federal Government" by Richard LauchmanSix ways to cut “his,” “his/her,” “his/hers,” “his or her,” “s/he”
1 Cut “his”, “his/her”, or “his or her” from the sentence, if possible.

Original sentence:

Every writer must use his/her good judgment.

The applicant must be prepared to spend his/her weekends traveling.

Each security officer must use his or her discretion.
After:

Every writer must use good judgment.

The applicant must be prepared to spend weekends traveling.

Each security officer must use discretion.
2. Use “you.”

Original sentence:

Each researcher must bring his/her driver’s license or other photo identification.
After:

You must bring your driver’s license or other photo identification.
3. Make the first term plural, and then use “their.”

Original sentence:

Each researcher must bring his/her driver’s license or other photo identification.
After:

All researchers must bring their driver’s license or other photo identification.
4. Use an article (“a,” “an,” or “the”).

Oriiginal sentence:

Each researcher must bring his/her driver’s license or other photo identification.
After:

Each researcher must bring a driver’s license or other photo identification.
5. Write a passive construction.

Original sentence

Each researcher must bring his/her driver’s license or other photo identification.
After:

A driver’s license or other photo identification is required.
6. In a lengthy document, you can use “he” and “she” interchangeably.

Original sentence

Each researcher must bring his/her driver’s license or other photo identification.
After:

Each researcher must bring his driver’s license or other photo identification.

Each researcher must bring her driver’s license or other photo identification.

Exercises created by Atty. Gerry T. Galacio; all rights reserved. You can freely use these exercises, but you must not upload them to any website or the cloud. For comments, questions, corrections, or suggestions, email gtgalacio@yahoo.com

 

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