Using Grammar Girl Podcasts to Teach about Less Common Pronoun Usage

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This blog series is written by Julia Domenicucci, an editor at Macmillan Learning, in conjunction with Mignon Fogarty, better known as Grammar Girl.




Happy spring to everyone in the northern hemisphere! Just like the seasons, pronoun usage is always changing, and always being discussedin articles, in conversations, in podcasts.


LaunchPad and Achieve products include collections of assignable, ad-free Grammar Girl podcasts, which you can use to support your lessons. You can assign one (or all!) of these suggested podcasts for students to listen to before class. Each podcast also comes with a complete transcript, which is perfect for students who aren’t audio learners or otherwise prefer to read the content. To learn more about digital products and purchasing options, please visit Macmillan's English catalog or speak with your sales representative. 

If you are using LaunchPad, refer to the unit “Grammar Girl Podcasts” for instructions on assigning podcasts. You can also find the same information on the support page "Assign Grammar Girl Podcasts."

If you are using Achieve, you can find information on assigning Grammar Girl in Achieve on the support page "Add Grammar Girl and shared English content to your course." If your English Achieve product is copyright year 2021 or later, you are able to use a folder of suggested Grammar Girl podcasts in your course; please see “Using Suggested Grammar Girl Podcasts in Achieve for English Products” for more information.


Podcasts about Less Common Pronoun Usage

  • Gender-Neutral Pronouns: Singular They [11:12]
  • Yo As a Pronoun [5:01]
  • Pronouns for People and Animals [5:34]
  • Who versus Whom, Advanced [3:52]


Students can do a lot more with podcasts than simply listen to them. Use one of the following assignments to encourage students to engage further with the Grammar Girl podcasts.


Assignment A: Have students listen to the podcasts “Gender-Neutral Pronouns: Singular They” and “Yo As a Pronoun” and also read the transcripts. Then, have them write a response considering the following:

  • What does the host do to connect with the listener?
  • What new information did the student learn about pronoun usage? Can they pinpoint any element of the podcast that helped them remember this new information?
  • How do the podcasts compare? Does the content overlap, and if so, where?
  • What content or information is conveyed through audio that does not appear in the transcripts, if any? Is any additional information found in the transcripts that is not apparent from just listening to the podcast?


Assignment B: Ask students to choose one of the above podcasts and listen to it, then choose a facet of pronoun usage to explore further. Ask them to consider the history of their topic, any debate around it, and any other interesting items they discover in their research. Some ideas for students to consider:

  • What is the history of they as a gender-neutral singular pronoun? Based on current trends, what might its future be?
  • What other words in the English language have been used throughout history as gender-neutral singular pronouns?
  • Compare who and whom—which term come first? Have these two words always been used the same way? 
  • What is a new trend in pronoun usage? Describe it and detail its history (however brief a history it may be!).
  • Research gender-neutral pronoun trends in another language.


How else have you discussed changing pronoun usage in your class? Let us know in the comments!


Credit: Pixabay Image 690810 by Free-Photos, used under a CC0 Creative Commons License