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People are losing their mind over the pandemic.

People are losing their minds over the pandemic.

The second one undoubtedly is grammatically correct, but is the first one correct as well? If so, then why?

2 Answers 2

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The English pronoun "they" can be either plural or singular, similarly to "you". So either are grammatically correct.

In this case the second one doesn't seem incorrect per se, but it doesn't feel 100% natural, which I think is just because "people" is really a dummy for an indefinite pronoun.

You raised a good example with "disabled people fear losing their job"; here "jobs" would imply there's some sort of mass lay-off going on as opposed to an individual one that they all happen to share, and "disabled people" is just a noun rather than a dummy pronoun.

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The first example is not correct because "people" is plural and therefore you need to use the plural "minds" along with it.

A "person" can lose their mind but a group of "people" lose their minds.

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    Upon typing "people are losing their" in the search bar and hitting search, a lot of results come up that suggest "disabled people fear losing their job", and "..people losing their grip on reality." Commented Nov 5, 2020 at 22:47
  • Are these examples grammatically incorrect? Commented Nov 5, 2020 at 22:48
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    It is possible to find numerous examples both when the plural object works better after plural / collective nouns and when the singular object does. The question is about context and idiom rather than grammar. In this instance, I would definitely use the plural minds. But people might lose their trust / understanding / hope / fear (and numerous other singular nouns). Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 0:05
  • @SoumyaGhosh Does appearing in a random internet search make something correct?
    – jwh20
    Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 11:58
  • It doesn't. I just thought maybe those results suggested that both the singular and plural usages were fine, even if the harmony between the words was lost. Which is why I asked. Commented Nov 7, 2020 at 20:12

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