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“THEIR mother” or “THEIR motherS” like “they ask their mother” or ”they ask their motherS”

In our weekly ‘ test ’ single people who are looking for a partner ask their mother (?why mother not mothers?) and their best friend to help. Their mother chooses one partner and their best friend chooses another. (taken from New English File)
Tell me please when we have can we write both ways: “THEIR mother” as well as “THEIR motherS” or only one variant is possible.
I understand that everyone has one mother, so “single people ask their mother” each one asks their own mother , but it may seem that they have the same mother.. to avoid this we should use “single people ask their motherS” is it so? Thanks for your answers.

For learning: English
Base language: English
Category: Language



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    Ha! I've taught this lesson! So you're going through the pre-intermediate text? :P

    In this case, "their" is used as a singular (not plural) possessive pronoun, as an alternative to writing his/her. It's less messy, and gender-neutral.

    Think about what is being said. I could also say it this way:
    "Every single person asks his or her mother [or best friend]"
    It is understood in English usage that "mother" applies to each person.
    You would only use "mothers" if every single person was asking all the mothers of the single people in a group. I am sure that the first sentence gives the idea that is intended here.
    [Afterthought- Peachey's answer below is more to the point. I tend to get too wordy]

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