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As a non native speaker I am facing trouble understanding one of the famous quotes from Christopher Hitchens,

"You give me the awful impression, I hate to have to say it, of someone who hasn't read any of the arguments against your position ever."

Can anyone explain, why Hitchens said, “against your position” instead “against their/his/her position”? Is there any grammatical problem or not?

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  • This question was moved from other site as suggested. Commented Dec 7, 2022 at 18:35
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    (2) means what it says. He feels he has to say it, but reluctantly. Commented Dec 7, 2022 at 18:42
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    There are multiple questions here. The issue of whether it should be "your position" or "his/her/their position" is interesting, although I think there are similar questions here or on ELU. The question about "the impression"/"an impression" is separate, but relates to the usual distinction between particular/specific and general/vague. And "I hate to have to say it" is used literally; it isn't clear what the OP's problem is; most likely it's the use of "have to" as an auxiliary.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 13:45
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    "You give me the awful impression, I hate to have to say it, of someone who hasn't read any of the arguments against your position ever." The "someone" is referring to "you", i.e. "You are someone who hasn't read arguments against your position."
    – ColleenV
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 16:52

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It's better to phrase it the way you suggest, with "his/her/their position" to match the third person "someone". If Hitchens had been writing, rather than speaking, he would not have phrased it the way he did.

Hitchens's version, read literally, means some person who hasn't read the arguments against Hitchens's opponent's position, which is still accurate, but an odd thing to say.

Hitchens is conflating two ideas here, both of which fit the situation. One is your improved version of the sentence, and the other is this:

You give me the awful impression that you haven't read any of the arguments against your position ever.

He matched the first part of one with the last part of the other, but it ended up sounding OK enough. I doubt the average native speaker noticed.

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