“If you want your ex back, but you lash out against them in hurt and anger, they will probably have trouble getting over that,” Gene Morris assures readers in the little book You Can Get Your Ex Back.”
Getting an ex back is not something I need help with just now. But as a business blog content writing trainer, I couldn’t help noticing something very interesting about this little paperback book: In just 56 short pages, the author managed to use the pronouns “they”, “them”, and “their” no fewer than 192 times when referring to ONE ex-spouse! In addition to the opening line which I quoted above, examples include:
- “Now, if the relationship ended because the other person cheated and left, you might be tempted to think that they left and you did not do anything wrong.”
- “Do not slander, insult, or otherwise speak ill of your ex to anybody, because it will get back to them eventually, and that will kill your chances of getting back together with them.”
- “”Let your ex have their new relationship, because you will still have a chance.”
- “When it is time to contact your ex, they will notice the improvements.”
- “Show them that you are serious by getting out of the depressed state and putting a smile back on your face.”
- “You have been eagerly awaiting your moment where you can contact them and profess your love and your regret to them.”
The grammar question, of course is this: Is there a pronoun to use when referring back to a singular noun? Actually, as englishstackexchange.com explains, “singular “they” enjoys a long history of usage in English. For example, it’s OK to say “Each student should save their questions until the end.” It’s standard to use the masculine: “Each student should save his questions until the end”; feminists might prefer “Each student should save her questions until the end”. One solution might be to use pronouns of both genders together, like “he or she” or “him/her”, but that quickly becomes awkward. You might, the website authors suggest, reword sentences to always use a plural: “Students should save their questions until the end.”
In doing online marketing through blogs, the last thing we content writers want is awkwardness – the whole idea is to engage readers, not frustrate them! To me, using “they”, “them”, and “their”, referring to just one ex-spouse in every other line of that little paperback was awkward enough to derail the message that book was obviously designed to convey.
I think the answer in blog content writing is to be direct. “Your ex will notice the improvements you’ve made.” “Show your ex that you’re serious”. “You’ve been eagerly awaiting the moment when you can convey your love and regret to your ex.”
Above all, in blog content writing, avoid the awkward!