At what times can I use plural "their" applying it to a singular noun?

For example, I can say:

Every student has his own learning curve and his own natural disposition.

Can I also say

Every student has their own learning curve and their own natural disposition.


And if not, can you, please, explain the reason?

  • 1
    Yes. "Their" in this case is also known as singular they. It used to be frowned upon in formal writing and criticized by prescriptive grammar; but in modern-day English, it is commonplace even in the formal styles. (I'm not answering because I'm sure there's a duplicate.) Commented May 7, 2021 at 2:29

1 Answer 1


Singular they is the use of the pronoun they or its derivatives as gender-neutral singular pronoun.

Somebody left their umbrella in the office. Wikipedia

As commented, its use has become common, as shown in Ngram

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