Suppose you are a journalist writing about a patient in hospital who died through being unable to take food. Unfortunately, you don't know the sex of the patient. Would you write the following, and if not, why not? The patient died because they were unable to feed themself OR The patient died through being unable to feed themself. (It would be unacceptable to write the very clumsy "because he or she was unable to feed himself or herself".) It should be noted that themself was first used in English in the 14th century. It has recently (since the 1970s) been on the increase, but most books and dictionaries describe it as non-standard.