Plural or singular ?

Everybody has THEIR  own strengths and weeknesses ...

Can we use a singular subject, but then using a plural pronoun?

Aug 8, 2014 2:50 PM
Comments · 4

No, we can't use singular subject then plural pronoun because

As i know, for example: Elya is my friend who is learning a new language and <em>They</em> are not Indian (Correct: She is not Indian).

We can't use <em>They</em> (any other pronoun) at the place of <em>She</em>.

Note: We always use Pronoun according to subject.

August 9, 2014

While technically English uses the male singular pronoun, as in "to each his own", the implied meaning is gender neutral -- much the same way that "mankind" is often used to mean "the human race".


To be strictly grammatically correct, you should write "Everybody has his own strengths and weaknesses." As Jmat says, though, it's common for people to use "their" when speaking. If you feel strongly about writing a truly gender-neutral sentence, the preferred option for formal writing is the somewhat awkward, "Everybody has his or her own strengths and weaknesses."


You could also say "All people have their own strengths and weaknesses," which means essentally the same thing and avoids the issue altogether.

August 8, 2014

It's common to use "they" and its variations when you don't know the gender of someone. It's slightly informal. It's also considered safer because some people might be offended if you say "he" or "she".

August 8, 2014

"Can we use a singular subject, but then using a plural pronoun?"


Well, <em>you</em> is also a plural pronoun. ;) We don't have any problem using it with a singular (or even impersonal) meaning.


The mini-dilemma is that English doesn't have a neutral singular pronoun for humans. <em>It</em> means a non-human. <em>He</em> has been used historically, but now we think it ignores women. Using <em>she</em> has the same problem. <em>He/She</em> and <em>He or she</em> can sound awkward.  The thing is, modern English speakers are favouring gender neutrality.


Some people have suggested an entirely new pronoun, but none of these have gained currency (ie. become widely used or popular). So, the best solution I've seen so far (and that I use) is adopting <em>they</em> and treating it as a singular person.


Apart from that, Claire's suggestion of rewriting the sentence entirely so that the subject is plural is a very good idea.

It reminds me of the joke about the zookeeper who loved linguistics...

August 9, 2014