Is it possible to use "one" and "they" in a single sentence like this:

When one learns a language, they have to learn about the culture as well.

even though each of this pronoun uses a different grammatical number?

  • I am about 100% positive that in your language whatever it is, that would not be grammatical. When one x, one y. – Lambie Mar 23 '18 at 22:24
  • @Lambie So "When one learns a language, one has to learn about the culture as well." would be fine? – Probably Mar 23 '18 at 22:30
  • I feel like the pronoun should be definite when mentioned for the 2nd time. – Probably Mar 23 '18 at 22:31
  • I think this falls into the realm of singular they. See Grammatical number agreement in a complex phrase using singular “they”. Basically, both one and they are indeterminate in quantity and gender. – user3169 Mar 24 '18 at 6:22
  • One is one. You cannot shift like that when the *pronoun refers to the same person(s) in both clauses. When one [you learn] learns a language, one has to [you have] learn about the culture as well. This is about using the right pronoun. When I go to the movies, I like to eat popcorn. – Lambie Mar 24 '18 at 15:51

Your idiomatic choices are

When you are learning a new language, you...

When one is learning a new language, one ...

When a person is learning a new language, they ...

| improve this answer | |
  • Is they now actually idiomatic for person? – JeremyC Mar 23 '18 at 23:06
  • they is used with someone so why not with a person.... google.com/… "... if I wanted to talk to someone, they'd listen." – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 23 '18 at 23:10
  • It is used colloquilly, but is an innovation of very recent decades because people don't like to use "he" or "he or she". My question was whether it is now so commonly used that it counts as idiomatic. – JeremyC Mar 23 '18 at 23:16
  • 1
    @JeremyC - Singular they isn't "an innovation of very recent decades"; it's been around for hundreds of years. – stangdon Mar 24 '18 at 0:00
  • Indeed, @JeremyC, as Stangdon says. See the examples in this Wikipedia article. – Colin Fine Mar 24 '18 at 1:16

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