Everyone is here, isn't he?

I read this on my English grammar textbook and it puzzled me for years. In the book it claimed that this is a correct usage other than "aren't they?". I wonder if such usage is grammatically correct and was it ever spoken by native speakers?

  • There isn't a cut-and-dry correct tag question for that sentence. A native speaker would either stumble over it, choose "Everyone is here, aren't they?", or take the easy way out and say, "Everyone is here, right?. "... isn't he?" makes no sense to me. I'm suspicious of that grammar book
    – gotube
    Jul 22, 2021 at 22:00
  • @gotube "isn't he?" Is not wrong, further from that. It's rather formal. And I don't think "Everyone is here, right?" is a tag question. Already a correct answer is provided, if you have any confusion about it, why don't you comment it under the answer and correct your wrong understanding. This comment under the question will make OP rather confused. Jul 24, 2021 at 17:49
  • @Man_From_India Yes I'm even more confused. Can you find any usage example perhaps for me to see it in action so as to gain a better understanding of it?
    – skygate
    Jul 28, 2021 at 10:53
  • @skygate the answer posted here is correct. And the first comment under it is correct too. Let me get back home, if I get time, which is very unlikely tonight, I will provide you some example sentences. Jul 28, 2021 at 11:03
  • @Man_From_India Thank you!
    – skygate
    Jul 28, 2021 at 11:46

2 Answers 2


Yes, this is grammatically correct usage.

However the "singular they" is also grammatically correct usage (with written examples going back hundreds of years) and in modern times has come to be preferred by many people as less sexist than "he."

  • 3
    So 'Everyone is here, aren't they?' Jul 22, 2021 at 11:16
  • 'Everyone is here, isn't they" ;-)
    – JavaLatte
    Jul 22, 2021 at 11:29
  • 2
    Although I agree that "aren't they" is prefered because it's gender neutral, I would really like to know why the singular "isn't he" is correct. It feels wrong because which of the many people in the "everyone group" does this "he" refer to? My gut says it should be plural (despite the word everyone itself being treated as singular hence "everyone is") precicely because in that part of the sentence you are talking about every single one in the group, no longer just the noun "everyone".
    – Imus
    Jul 22, 2021 at 13:05
  • Can you find any usage examples? I tried Google Books but didn't find any.
    – skygate
    Jul 28, 2021 at 10:48

The problem with everybody and everyone is that they are grammatically singular but notionally plural. Once it was said that a plural pronoun to refer back everyone and everybody is not considered a good writing and it should be avoided in serious writing or literature. Even this suggestion was opposed by then contemporary grammarians. In fact there had been disagreement among them. But it is noteworthy to mention that both singular and plural pronouns were in use to refer back "everyone* and everybody from a very long time, not only in casual informal speech but in literature as well.

... everybody had their due importance - Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814
Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes - Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan, 1893

Well, I'm afraid it's everyone for himself - R. Hall, 1978 (NZ)
The idiom would be one of solid understatement with everyone turning his hand to what needed to be done - N. Barley, 1983

In view of the above it is not wrong to use either "they" nor "he" in the tag question.

Everyone is here, isn't he?
Everyone is here, aren't they?

Just want to add something based on my opinion and findings that they is much more common here than he.

(I would not have added this answer here as a correct answer is already given unless OP asked me to provide him with some example sentences.)

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