I learned three cases where "their + singular noun" is preferred.

1, The noun is an shared object.

The couple love their life together. (their shared life)

2, It is perhaps somewhat more common when speaking of "people in general" or any large and poorly defined group, to use a singular form, as if speaking of each individual member of the group member. But sometimes this doesn't seem to work well. Or a writer chooses the plural form as a matter of style. Or uses "a person" instead of "people", speaking of a typical example, and using singular forms.

Nowadays, a growing number of people with health problems are trying alternative medicines and treatments instead of visiting their usual doctor.

Nowadays, people are spending more time away from their home because they spend longer in their workplace.

3, Some words like lunch are usually uncountable nouns.

Most employees prefer to eat lunch at their desk[s]. (desk or desks depends on personal preferences)

Still, when I come across a long text, I have trouble using what I learned to analyze.

When deciding between postgraduate studies and work, students should consider a variety of factors, including their career plans, financial status and personal preferences.

The first factor that undergraduate students should consider is their intended career.

The second factor that students should take into consideration is their financial situation.

The final factor that undergraduate students should consider is their own personal preferences. Some students may have entrepreneurial ambitions and dream of running their own business.

By taking career goals, financial status and personal preferences into consideration, students can improve their chances of making an optimal choice.

I think throughout the essay "they" speaks of a single student. "Status" is usually an uncountable noun, so I have no problem with that. But for the rest nouns, why some are plural, some singular? Is the author's every choice well-considered?

  • 1
    This is a proofing question and therefore not allowed...
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 16:47
  • 1
    It's talking about many students, but each has only one financial situation etc. Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 16:51
  • 1
    Did you research this topic before asking? There are several questions on this site that ask about this exact issue. Commented Apr 19, 2023 at 18:32
  • I've edited the question to add research and details about where I don't understand.
    – joy2020
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 0:49

1 Answer 1


This advice is being offered to the entire student population (hence the consistent use of students and they). However, the advice itself is about the behavior of individual students: A single student may have more than one ambition, and that student ought to maximize his/her/their chances of making an optimal choice. On the other hand, it is unlikely that an individual student has more than one financial situation, or that they dream of running more than one business, at least as long as they're students :)


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