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Which of them is correct?

Everyone has their own stories

or

Everyone has their own story

What I'm asking about is that how could we decide that we should use a plural or singular noun after the word "own"? Is it correct to think that if a subject of the sentence is singular then a noun following the word "own" must be singular too?

Here are some examples below:

People have their own stories.

Dang has his own story.

Evenyone has their own story.

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24

Both are correct, depending on what you mean to say. "Everyone has their own story" means "Each person has his or her own story" while "Everyone has their own stories" means "Each person has many stories." An individual person can have many things, and a group can collectively have one thing, so the object doesn't have to match the subject: "Dan has many cats," "They own a boat," "Carl's children have red bicycles," etc.

But if you're looking for the common aphorism, it's "Everyone has their own story", referring to the entire story of each person's life.

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    Another common phrase is "Everyone has their own side of the story", implying that everyone will remember or explain the same events in different ways. – David K Oct 7 '16 at 19:25
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The subject here (everyone) is singular, so ordinarily you'd expect the the pronoun that refers to the subject to be singular. But English doesn't have a gender-neutral, singular third person pronoun. You can say

Everyone has his own....

or

Everyone has his or her own....

But except in the most formal writing, it's acceptable to put gender neutrality before number and say

Everyone has their own....

But the direct object of the verb in this sentence has no necessary connection to the number of the subject. If you use the plural to say

Everyone has their own stories

this means that each of us has a set of personal anecdotes. If you use the singular to say

Everyone has their own story

this means that people have a salient narrative about the arc of their lives.

  • With regard to the question of using their or his or her, I think you'll find that usage differs between Commonwealth English and American English. Even the most formal British writing would pair their with everyone, in preference to his or her. – Dawood ibn Kareem Oct 8 '16 at 5:23
  • @DavidWallace Ordinarily on the subject of British formal writing, I would defer to someone who claims to be from Lower Hutt, but I just talked to the Queen about your claim and she said that they are not amused. – deadrat Oct 8 '16 at 5:47
  • Oh, Her Majesty may deny my fealty, but I am indeed one of her subjects. Moreover the claim that it's standard in UK to use a plural pronoun to agree with "everyone" and "everybody" comes from Garner's Modern English Usage, which I believe surveys both the Commonwealth and the land out West. The n-grams are telling though. They show a preference for "their" over "his" on both sides of the Atlantic - a stronger preference in UK English than US English to be sure, although not as strong a preference as I had believed. – Dawood ibn Kareem Oct 8 '16 at 6:18

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