I need to express the message avoiding mentioning the gender. The sentence is next:

They are designed to store the team's work collectively, so if a document's creator moves off of the team that document doesn't go with them.

I did some research but the information regarding this question is very ambiguous. Is it correct? If it is not, maybe there could be another wording?

4 Answers 4


It is grammatically correct according to the rules of English. If this is at all disputed it will not be on grammatical grounds, but likely due to ongoing disputes over gender pronouns.

However, if this is written English I would prefer it to be written as:

They are designed to store the team's work collectively, so if the creator of a document moves off the team, that document doesn't go with them.

"The creator of a document" is a little clearer than "the document's creator". Unless "creator" is specific terminology you might even consider using the term "author".

"Off of" is a colloquialism and considered grammatically incorrect by most native speakers. "Moves off the team" is correct, and perhaps "leaves" may be even better than "moves off".


It is disputed yes, but mostly by pedants. The use of singular them is not a new innovation and the sentence you give makes perfect sense.

  • All innovations are new - by definition! (Forgive any pedantry.) Dec 5, 2018 at 16:53

According to this Oxford Dictionary usage note, the use of the singular 'they' and 'them' when gender is unknown is centuries old and perfectly acceptable.


I noticed a news article recently about a pilot in Australia who had done something wrong, and the writer of the article repeatedly used the plural pronoun either because the pilot's gender was unknown or in order to avoid identifying the pilot in any way.

The article has stuck in my mind because of the repeated use of the pronoun - it drew attention to either the lack of information or the avoidance of identification.

I think there needs to be a delicate touch in using a grammatical nuance such as the singularised plural.

You must log in to answer this question.

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