Before You Submit: He – She – They

Do you have a draft of your novel or short story and are thinking of submitting to an agent, publisher or writing contest? My series called Before You Submit might help. This series contains hints and tips I’ve received from professionals in the publishing industry. Each week I’ll share a new tip.

This week I’m going to highlight advice I received last week when I posted my blog. One reader kindly pointed out my mistake, and to me it re-enforces how important it is to have someone else edit my work before submitting the words. Of course, I don’t have an editor for the blog, so I’m on my own.

The rule I broke: Plural and singular must match in a sentence.

The sentence containing my error was:

As usual, this advice is coming from an editor who knows what they are talking about.

If it’s not clear whether the editor is female or male, the corrected sentence is:

As usual, this advice is coming from an editor who knows what he/she is talking about.

I know the editor was a female. so I could also have written:

As usual, this advice is coming from an editor who knows what she is talking about.

I mixed the singular ‘an editor’ with the plural ‘they’. Even at this stage I’m making errors when I know better.

I hope this helps improve your writing.

See Before You Submit:Likeable Characters for the first blog in this series and an introduction the benefits of submitting even if you get a rejection letter.


Thanks for reading . . .




9 thoughts on “Before You Submit: He – She – They

  1. Dear Miss Kristina. . I had a problem writing my books because we did them in present text. I had to keep checking myself to stay in present text and use words like going instead of went. Example: (correct) We are going down the road when we see a cat. ( wrong way) We went down the road and saw a cat. Are ,going and see are all words that make it now. I even messed up writing this to you and first I wrote We were going down the road when we see a cat. PS. Tell Farley we are suppose to get a big snow storm tonight. They are talking about up to 13 inches of snow with high winds. Love M.J.


    1. Farley says: time for snow shoes 🙂 I find it hard with the tenses too. Normally I write in third person past tense. Sometime for a short story I’ll switch to first person, but again stay in past tense. On my blog I like to work in present – and I find it the hardest to stay in tense for. Good luck with the snow.


  2. This is definitely a case of something that would be acceptable in spoken/common usage to most except the ivory tower types, but isn’t something you’d want to mess up in a submission. I find that spoken word is much more flexible than writing, which must explain why it’s okay to have that sort of thing in dialog, but not in exposition.


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