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Michael Jacobs

Purists and lawyers, sit down. You may need smelling salts or whisky, according to taste. Ready? All right. I predict that your children, or perhaps your children’s children, will read in grammar textbooks that they is the third-person singular pronoun when referring to a person, as well as being the third-person plural pronoun. It will be confined to an animal or a thing.

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It isn’t difficult to establish conversational tone in writing. And since a column about language and usage ought to be a conversation, we’ll go for that tone. Let’s start with a workout for a current, overused device. There’ve been three of them before this sentence: four now. You’ll find them if you look (Five.) Yes, we’re looking at the conversational contraction, and it’s time to stop counting.

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