Some polls showed the party could win just seven percent of the vote - their lowest share in history.

Some polls showed the party could win just seven percent of the vote - the party's lowest share in history.

Are these both examples of noun phrases after the en dash? Is their equivalent to the party's?

1 Answer 1


You can analyze this problem in terms of the relationship of reference.

In both examples, "share" unambiguously refers to "seven percent of the vote.

In the second example, "the party's" modifies "share" (which share?), clearly referring, by repetition, to "the party" which is the subject of "win" in the noun clause "the party could win..." which is itself the DO of "showed"

The same relationships hold in the first example, except that the pronoun "their" replaces "the party's" used in the second example.

The only problem is the use of the plural pronoun "their" to refer to the singular noun "party." "Party" is a collective noun, so it can be construed as plural in some contexts, but here "the party" is functioning as a single unit with a single purpose rather than a collection of individuals with diverse purposes. So a singular pronoun would be better.

  • "Their" is the singular, gender-neutral third person pronoun. Commented May 24, 2019 at 16:14
  • I was thinking "it's."
    – Margolis
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 16:16
  • Surely you mean "its," but that would also work. The question then becomes whether or not a political party receives a personal pronoun. Commented May 24, 2019 at 16:18
  • You're right, geekahedron, I did mean "its." I intended the gender-neutral third person singular possessive pronoun. I was taught to construe "their" as the gender-neutral third person plural possessive pronoun.
    – Margolis
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 16:20
  • "Their" and various forms of "they" are primarily plural pronouns, but also used as singular personal neuter pronouns (usurping the tradition of using masculine pronouns for that purpose). "If a child touches the stove they will burn their hand." You wouldn't refer to a child as "it" so you need a personal pronoun. The party could be an "it" but it's more common to refer to "them." Commented May 24, 2019 at 16:47

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