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Semantically singular “they”

On the other side, the “human” knowledge is so weak; especially in choosing the right concepts and fundamentals for eternal life. “They” may have touched the summit of scientific inventions to live in comfort and joy; but, still “they” lack the proper inclination towards the right path. We could assure this truth in many ways.

Hi Paul,

I hope you’re doing well.

In context to the above text, I have these two questions:
1) Which word is the most appropriate one to refer to the whole mankind? Should it be “human” or “human being” or “men” or “man” or anything else?
2) I’ve used the pronoun “they” to refer back to the word “human” since the gender is not specific in this case. Is it okay?

Can you please confirm.

Re: Semantically singular “they”

Hi Mr Paul,

If it's possible, can I get a reply from you, please?


Re: Semantically singular “they”

1) You can use "human" (no "the") or "mankind’s".

2) You can’t use "they" as anaphoric to singular non-count noun phrases like "human knowledge" or "mankind’s knowldge". You need "it".


Re: Semantically singular “they”

We old codgers still use the politically incorrect generic "he" as well, knowing, as we didnin the 1970s, 1960s, and centuries earlier, that it was not gender-specific when used in such context. Never acquiesce to those who care about impression more than context.

For those who do want to use a gender-neutral singular, it is absolutely acceptable to do so as long as it is grammatically accurate (i.e., does not open the door to ambiguity of meaning). Your reference to "human", etc., are good choices. Another option (albeit, not universally accepted) is to use the archaic generic classifications: "ge", "gen", "ger" (subject, object, possesive).

In general, one should not use "it" for human beings.