1) Every student was selected for their/his placement training in the college.

2) Each girl was given a bunch of flowers which pleased her/them very much.

Could anyone clear my doubt which pronoun to be used here.

1 Answer 1


In both of your examples, according to technical English, the singular form should be used; however, in spoken English, either way is considered to be acceptable. In fact, using their/them may be more common than using the singular forms.

  • Formally and grammatically which one is more apt?
    – Sudhir
    Jun 26, 2013 at 14:57
  • Formally, the first sentence should use his. The second sentence, IMO, either would be correct. Using her emphasizes that every individual girl was very pleased, while using them emphasizes that they were all very pleased. Essentially the same meaning.
    – Daniel
    Jun 26, 2013 at 15:01
  • In the first sentence, each student's possessive can be his/her because we do not know each student's gender. We tend to replace 'his/her' with 'they' to make it simple. 'they' in such a case is often referred to as 'Singular they'.
    – JayHook
    Jun 26, 2013 at 16:15
  • As we all know, there's no definitive "authority" who can say what's "technically correct", but I can't really agree with your assertion there. Consider, for example (grammar.about.com/od/rs/g/Singular-They.htm)[Though strict prescriptive grammarians regard the singular they as a grammatical error, it has been in widespread use for several centuries. Singular they appears in the writings of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Austen, Woolf, and many other major English authors]. If it's good enough for them, I don't think we should be saying it's not strictly "correct". Jun 26, 2013 at 18:05
  • 1
    Does it really make any difference? They are some of our great writers, who effectively define "good practice". If you think grammar means a set of prescriptive rules, that's your prerogative, but I'd rather see it as a description of what competent speakers say/write. Jun 26, 2013 at 18:09

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