From Quora by C Stuart Hardwick (Award-Winning Sci-fi Author) from Houston, TX

Many people would say "Everyone should save their questions until the end", but this is widely regarded as wrong. The more correct, but convoluted form is "Everyone should save his or her questions until the end".

I can't see what's wrong with using "their" in this sentence.

As far as I know, grammar books say that you can use "their" in place of a gender-neutral collective pronoun:

  • "I'm reminding everyone in class that they should do their homework at home" is perfectly fine to me and just can't imagine it being written using "his or her".
  • This sort of thing comes up all the time, e.g. ell.stackexchange.com/q/62371/51806 and (on ELU) english.stackexchange.com/q/48/240429 – SteveES Jun 29 '17 at 8:23
  • In other words, most people on SE seem to favour singular they as a gender neutral pronoun, but some people have a problem with it (at least in certain contexts). – SteveES Jun 29 '17 at 8:26
  • @SteveES That really doesn't make sense. Official grammar books say that you can use "their" and people say you can't that's the opposite of "Who vs Whom" issue. Btw, "one's" is indeed another possible way. – SovereignSun Jun 29 '17 at 8:29
  • @SteveES I like Nohat's answer here english.stackexchange.com/questions/48/… I agree that there are many possible strategies. – SovereignSun Jun 29 '17 at 8:30

There is nothing wrong in using it! Singular 'they' has been in practice as an epicene for singular pronoun where the gender is not specified.

While I may agree that many (whom I know good in English) don't prefer writing this, I don't buy what the author says 'widely regarded as wrong!'

The Wikipedia page gives all the information on its usage, controversies, and the like.

  • I was trying to find a source that says that it's absolutely wrong to use "their" in place of a gender-neutral collective pronoun but couldn't. Maybe I missed something? – SovereignSun Jun 29 '17 at 8:50
  • I'm afraid! No source will call it an 'absolutely wrong' way to express the gender-neutral pronouns. @SovereignSun – Maulik V Jun 29 '17 at 8:53
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    @SovereignSun there are some 'prescriptive' grammar reference would say that, Geraldine Woods' English Grammar for Dummies, for example. The problem with these people is that they rely on the antiquated grammar rule saying a singular antecedent cannot take a plural pronoun and vice versa. But this rule is usually scorned in modern grammar. – user178049 Jun 29 '17 at 11:07
  • So all these people just don't care for modern grammar rules and modern English? – SovereignSun Jun 29 '17 at 11:10
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    @SovereignSun I believe they are aware of that; they wouldn't even say "his or her" when they are speaking—heh! But these closed-minded old farts cannot accept the fact that a 'rule' is based on the actual 'usage' of English. – user178049 Jun 29 '17 at 11:17

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