[Bender explains why he drinks so much]
Bender: Nah, I'm trying to watch my input. I need plenty of wholesome nutritious alcohol. The chemical energy keeps my fuel cells charged.
Fry: What are the cigars for?
Bender: They make me look cool.

Why he use "They" but not "Its"?
Is it a mistake?

In addition:

Leela: "What if I just help the two of you find a bigger apartment?"
Bender: "I don't know...I've got a lot of great memories of my old place." [pushes button]
Bender: "And now they're gone!"

And why does he use "they" for "memories"?

  • Isn't "cigar" a countable noun? Commented Dec 1, 2013 at 8:56
  • "cigar" is the countable noun. But "They" for he or see or for life nouns.
    – Mediator
    Commented Dec 1, 2013 at 8:59
  • 1
    A quick trip to the dictionary would show this is proper usage. From Macmillan: they (pronoun) used for referring to a group of people or things that have already been mentioned or that are already known about; from Cambridge: they (pronoun) used as the subject of a verb to refer to people, animals, or things already mentioned. [emphasis added]
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 1, 2013 at 11:04
  • No, unlike "he" and "she", "they" is not for living things only---just like "it" is not for living things only! "Those are my pencils; give them to me!" "That is my pen; give it to me!"
    – Kaz
    Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 1:50

2 Answers 2


I guess that your quotes are from Futurama, an animation that usually uses hilarious and witty words. Quite often, the words just mean something they do not normally mean. And, since I am not a big fan, though I did watch some episodes, I cannot recall such scenes.

Anyway, I believe that a straightforward interpretation could apply.

Fry: What are the cigars for?
Bender: They make me look cool.

Why he use They but not Its? Is it a mistake?

No, it is not a mistake. In that Bender's line, the word they refers to cigars.
Cigars is plural, so we must use the pronoun they, not its.

The same goes to the use of they for memories.

  • I get it. Thanks. I thought what them for plural live-nouns and its for plural dead-nouns
    – Mediator
    Commented Dec 1, 2013 at 10:42
  • I'm glad that I can help. The agreements for live-nouns and dead-nouns exist in Ukrainian language, am I right? Commented Dec 1, 2013 at 10:46
  • 2
    @Mediator, "Its" is the possessive for singular non-gendered things. "I'm taking my car to the shop because its brakes are going bad."
    – The Photon
    Commented Dec 1, 2013 at 17:35

The following simple table should help:

Inanimate pronouns/Third Person non-gender specific pronouns
            Singular    Plural
Subject        it        they
Object         it        them
Possessive     its       their

A possessive pronoun should be followed by a noun: the cigar's wrapper, its wrapper, his memories. A regular pronoun may be followed by verb: They make..., ...they're... (...they are...), it does, it's (it is, it has [been]). An exception is when the pronoun comes at the end of a phrase: The cigars are Bender's, They are Bender's, The cigars are his, They are his. So we know we are talking about Bender's cigars, his cigars. We can't say Bender's them or Bender's they, it would seem we are saying Bender is them, using the contracted form of is, which doesn't make sense. We can't even say Bender's these or Bender's those, we must explicitly state the noun (cigars).

cigars and memories are plural and not possessive. So the correct pronouns for both of them are they (subject) and them (object). Bender's memories? What about them? They're gone.

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