Is it all right to use plural pronouns for reference to singular indefinite pronouns? Check this post and find out.
According to Merriam-Webster, we were taught to always use the masculine singular pronouns for grammatically singular indefinite pronouns, such as “everyone,” as well as non-gender-specific singular nouns, such as “friend,” because a group of 18th-century grammarians decided so. These grammarians preferred inaccuracy of gender over inaccuracy of number:
- Everyone should do his best.
However, today, we more commonly use the gender-balanced “his or her”:
- Everyone should do his or her best.
Either is fine, but neither is advisable for longer sentences as both would prove to be wordy in such:
- Everyone should do his or her best in whatever situations he or she finds himself or herself in.
That is why Merriam-Webster says that plural pronouns are a favorable choice for reference to singular indefinite pronouns. It is because:
- Singular indefinite pronouns, like “everyone,” usually imply a plural even if they are grammatically singular.
- Both indefinite pronouns and plural pronouns share the quality of having no gender identification.
- Everyone should do their best in whatever situations they find themselves in.
To know more about this topic, click here.
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