Own your pronouns.

As an editor, you edit a manuscript once. Then you go back and read it again. Things you missed the first time now become obvious. It’s sort of like weeding a garden.

Here’s something I missed the first (and second, and third) time around.

Everyone was carrying extra ammunition for themselves or for the machine gun, bazooka, and mortar teams.

So, I’m reading along and bam! I realize that “everyone” is a singular noun and my client has paired it—yes!—with a plural pronoun.

Well, in this day and age, the default is “everyone was carrying extra ammunition for him- or herself”; the old suspended hyphen rule kicks in.

But wait a sec! Hang on to your hats! Stop the presses! There were no women there, so…the pronoun is “himself.” Absolutely and unequivocally. I’m a huge feminist and subscribe to a certain level of political correctness, but, baby, I’m more concerned with accuracy than anything else.

Own your pronouns.