2

One would be evaluated based on: 1. what one does. 2. what is available to ----.

Some use "her" for the blank above. I want a gender-neutral pronoun. Can I simply use "one" again?

7
  • Is this a "fill in the blank" quiz question, or would you accept answers based on rewording?
    – James K
    Mar 28 '18 at 19:56
  • 1
    @JamesK Rewording is accepted as well. But the general question on objective genderless pronoun remains.
    – Sasan
    Mar 28 '18 at 20:32
  • Down-voters please mention their reasons.
    – Sasan
    Mar 28 '18 at 20:33
  • "What you do". The next perhaps just "What is available?" People often use "they" and "their" in the singular, for that reason. Similarly the antiquated "thou" was replaced with "you". Mar 28 '18 at 22:00
  • 1
    @WeatherVane "One would be evaluated based on what you do" is ugly and confusing, though, because it shifts from one to you with no explanation.
    – stangdon
    Mar 29 '18 at 11:08
2

Briefly: My choice is

The candidates would be evaluated based on what they do, and what is available to them.

In detail:

This question is a good example of how the English language changes over time. This question attracted several good comments but needs at least one answer.

One would be evaluated based on: 1. what one does. 2. what is available to ---.

There are several possible solutions that were mentioned:

[A] available to one

This is very traditional writing, and sounds awkward to the modern ear:

One would be evaluated based on: (1) what one does. (2) what is available to one.

No one speaks this way, not even royalty. This is not recommended.

[B] available to him

Using "him" is technically correct, similar to the use of "man" for "mankind". Many people now say that using "him" implies the male gender, not just general "people".

One would be evaluated based on: (1) what one does. (2) what is available to him.

This is acceptable to some people, but not all people.

[C] available to him or her

This version is more inclusive, and also grammatically correct.

One would be evaluated based on: (1) what one does. (2) what is available to him or her.

However, some people find that the use of "him or her" is a little awkward. (It's not as bad as starting a letter "Dear Sir or Madam:".) This is fine.

[D] available to her

Using "her", when the gender is not known, is acceptable.

One would be evaluated based on: (1) what one does. (2) what is available to her.

Using "her" instead of "him" flips the tradition on its head, and there is nothing wrong with it. I would guess this style became popular around the 1990s, and it is still popular. Almost everyone who sees the sentence will notice that you used "her" instead of the traditional him, which may be desirable, or undesirable.

This is better to my ear, but some people prefer choice [C] above.

[E] available to them, (using the singular they)

Using the "singular they"/them has become especially popular the last few years to avoid gendered writing. But it is not yet universally accepted.

One would be evaluated based on: (1) what one does. (2) what is available to them.

Some audiences will feel this is very progressive and correct, but some people will find it strange that you switched from "one" (singular) to "them" (plural).

This is fine to me.

[F] available to them, (using all plural)

If you wish to do "they" to avoid specifying a gender, I suggest rewriting to say

They would be evaluated based on: (1) what they do (2) what is available to them.

The candidates would be evaluated based on what they do, and what is available to them.

There is almost no difference between "one" was evaluated (singular) and "the candidates" were evaluated (plural).

Most people would read "one" was evaluated and assume that more than one was evaluated in total, and you are explaining the process for evaluating each individual member of a group, which occurred multiple times.

You also get to avoid using "one" referring to people, which is more modern. American English, for example, almost never uses this construction ("One does not like it, does one?") although I guess it remains a little more popular in Britain.

This is an excellent choice that will sound correct to the most people.

You may also want to remove the numbers from the middle of the sentence, as it flows more smoothly without them.

[G] one has available

I don't prefer to use the pronoun "one" very often. If you really want want to continue using "one", then here is one more possibility.

In modern English, "one" sounds much better as a verb's subject than it does as an object. You can rephrase the original sentence.

One would be evaluated based on (1) what one does; (2) what one has available.

This is fine, but not my most preferred choice.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .