singular - plural

haze [transitive]
American English to play tricks on a new student or to make them do silly or dangerous things, as part of joining the school or a club at the school
-This taken from Longman’s, does the pattern oblige you to follow it as a rule /smb, someone, a person, a lady, a teacher,an officer, etc - plural/?

I don’t exactly undertand your question, but “them” is used here to refer to “a new student” – a singular student of unknown sex. This is a common yet still debated use of “them”. It avoids “him or her”, which may be felt to be cumbersome.

Thanks to Dozy, I now understand your question.

As Dozy implied, for hundreds of years, English speakers would say “to play tricks on a student and make HIM do silly or dangerous things.”

Then in the 1960’s, the ladies complained that maybe the student was a “HER.” So English speakers started to say "and make HIM or HER do

silly things." But, as Dozy implied, “him or her” is such a crazy expression (in MY opinion), so now in 2012 (almost!) many (most?) native

speakers now say “make THEM do silly things.” Of course, it is “bad” English because “a new student” is NOT “them.” Some speakers now

find another way to express the idea so that it is not necessary to use “him” or “him or her.” For example, you can use the plural:

To play tricks on new studentS or make THEM do …

Thank you, both Dozy and James.
I had a feeling that some kind of suffragism had been involved…And it really sounds “bad” English to my mind, that leap from a singular to plural.
Regards.


Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little.

You are welcome. A person should always ask whenever he/ she/ he or she/ they have a question!!!

suffragism?