When answering questions, I generally use gender-neutral pronouns ("they", "their", "them"), as most sports are played by both men and women.

As you can see in this edit here, the "they"s were replaced with "he"s, and that was all that edit encompassed. I don't see this as a huge change, but I would say that it diminished the question rather than helping it, since "they" can apply to any gender, but "he" generally applies only to males.

Normally we don't allow edits that merely change spelling and grammar from one dialect of English to another (e.g. American English to British English). Since this edit was in the same vein as a dialectal edit, why was this edit approved when it added nothing to (and if anything, arguably diminished) the question?

  • 1
    As the author, don't hesitate to roll back an edit if you disagree that it's helpful.
    – Shog9
    Dec 20, 2015 at 6:02

1 Answer 1


In the help center,

When should I edit posts?

Any time you feel you can make the post better, and are inclined to do so. Editing is encouraged!

Some common reasons to edit are:

  • to fix grammatical or spelling mistakes
  • to clarify the meaning of a post without changing it


Tiny, trivial edits are discouraged - try to make the post significantly better when you edit, correcting all problems that you observe.

I didn't approve this edit to replace gender-neutral pronouns with male ones. I approved this edit because "they" refer to a group of people (plural), and "he" refers to one (singular) person.

Note: There is acceptance of they/them/their as singular pronouns in formal styles(1), but usage guides still strongly advise against using singular pronouns although it has been and is used in everyday English language(2). I'm not saying the use of singular pronouns are wrong. I'm saying that's not why I approved this edit.

There may have been some confusion while reading the question, and to eliminate said confusion, this edit was made. It's not engaging in hyperbole to think your interchangeable use of singular (ie, one person) and plural (ie, group of people) nouns caused confusion (eg, Is one person or many people involved? Context says one person, but the use of singular and plural nouns may have implied otherwise).

Personally, I use s/he and him/her (feel free to see my posts). Furthermore, the answer you accepted cites an example from Ligue 1, a men's league (as the female French football league is called Division 1 Féminine, "the female equivalent to the men's Ligue 1"(3)). This further supports the edit as it clarifies the meaning of the post (one person or a group of people...singular or plural) without changing it. If the meaning was changed, then you were interested in how this applied to female football. If you were interested in how this applied to female football, why didn't you inquire about such (see paragraph 2 of "Other Thoughts" below for more context)?

As a result, I didn't think the edit was "tiny" or "trivial." It eliminated possible confusion caused by the use of singular/plural nouns and agreed with the accepted answer with respect to gender. Therefore, I don't see how this edit diminished the question (from a grammatical or gender standpoint). If you disagree with me, feel free to roll back as Shog9 commented. We should be careful about discouraging editing if "Editing is encouraged!"

Other thoughts:

My approval of this edit (and presumably the one who suggested the edit -- although the edit was to correct spelling) was based on the interchangeable use of singular/plural nouns and not gender. Now that I look back at it, considering the editor wanted to correct spelling and wasn't consistent with the edits, it was perhaps too minor of an edit, but as for why I approved it, I stick with calling it a useful edit for the reasons I have already stated.

I don't think there would be much of a difference to men's and women's football with respect to rules, but we frequently encourage users to state which set of rules they would like an answer with respect to (you didn't state which set of rules you were interested in getting an answer about, but you accepted an answer with respect to a men's football league). I don't follow football, but from seeing how rules can be different among different leagues of the same sport, it wouldn't be engaging in hyperbole to think men's rules and women's rules are different.

Using your following statement as an example:

The attacker continues dribbling the ball towards their opponents' goal.

Going back to when I wrote term papers during undergrad, I would consider "attacker" as singular and "their" as plural...which means they are not in agreement (anyone better in English grammar than me, feel free to let me know what this is called). The edit improves this by changing "their" to the article "the" as there is one opponent, the other team.

You must log in to answer this question.

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