I read an example of the word "stupefy" in Merriam Webster Dictionaries which was:

"stupefied by the ruling that he could not compete because his missed the qualifying age by two days"

I think there should be "he" instead of "his" in the sentence. I asked it because I think myself to be too amateur to find a mistake in a dictionary.

2 Answers 2


As an English speaker, I'm quite torn by this question. "His" definitely does not sound correct, and yet it is "his age" that did not qualify!


John was stupefied by the ruling that he could not enter a pet in the dog show because his was a cat.

You wouldn't replace this with "he", right? Because it is referring to his pet. John isn't a cat himself. If you agree that this sentence is grammatical, then your similarly constructed sentence has to be, too.

I'd have to say that the example in your dictionary is not idiomatic, yet I'm struggling to say it is wrong.

  • I did think for a while that the sentence is right based on your explanation but then as is clear from your quoted sentence there should have been a mention of age, like pet in your example, in the premises.
    – Kelvin
    May 10, 2019 at 10:35
  • @Kelvin "Age" is mentioned ONCE in your example, just as "pet" is only mentioned once in mine. Cats and dogs are kinds of pets. Your sentence mentions "two years" as the specific measure by which the age was wrong. I still maintain the logic is the same.
    – Astralbee
    May 10, 2019 at 10:38
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    Yeah you're right, so the example should be correct as per that argument. Shouldn't it be?
    – Kelvin
    May 10, 2019 at 10:42
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    @Kelvin I looked up the entry in the dictionary and I note that it does not begin with a capital like the other examples, suggesting it has been lifted from the middle of a sentence. There may have been some set up.
    – Astralbee
    May 10, 2019 at 11:00
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    @Kelvin The example isn't a complete sentence—it's only a sentence fragment. Even if his were replaced by he, it would still be ungrammatical without additional words and context. There is nothing at all wrong with this fragment, depending on how it's interpreted. (Incidentally, just read his entry missed the qualifying age if you want a simpler example of the correct use of his.) May 10, 2019 at 14:51

You are correct.

The construction has to read:

stupefied by the ruling that he could not compete because he missed the qualifying age by two days"

It could be rephrased, using the gerund, to read:

stupefied by the ruling that he could not compete because of his missing the qualifying age by two days

But, as it stands, it definitely requires he.

  • I should be grateful to learn why my answer has been downvoted! May 10, 2019 at 14:20

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