Pronoun agreement is an essential aspect of English grammar that is often overlooked. It refers to the agreement between a pronoun and the noun that it refers to in terms of gender, number, and person. One of the most common mistakes in pronoun agreement is the use of “their.”
Their is a plural pronoun that refers to more than one person or thing. It is commonly used as a gender-neutral pronoun to avoid using “he” or “she.” For example, instead of saying “he or she,” you can use “they” or “their.” However, the use of “their” as a singular pronoun is considered grammatically incorrect.
Using “their” as a singular pronoun can lead to confusion and ambiguity, especially when the antecedent (the noun that the pronoun refers to) is unclear. For example, consider the following sentence:
“Everyone should bring their own lunch to the meeting.”
In this sentence, “their” implies that each person should bring their own lunch. However, the word “everyone” is singular, so the correct pronoun to use is “his or her.” The corrected sentence would be:
“Everyone should bring his or her own lunch to the meeting.”
When you are unsure about the gender of the noun, you can use a gender-neutral singular pronoun like “they” or “it.” However, this can also lead to confusion and is not considered standard English in formal writing.
In conclusion, “their” is a plural pronoun that should not be used as a singular pronoun. When you encounter a sentence where the antecedent is unclear, use a gender-neutral singular pronoun or rewrite the sentence to make it more clear. Remember that proper pronoun agreement is essential for clear and effective communication in written English.