Interested in Language
A while ago I was not sure about this:
Everyone has his/her/its own opinion.
Some UE teachers and members told me:
Everyone has their opinion.
Now I have another question:
Everyone feels sad when someone breaks up with them.
Everyone knows that they have probably only one life.
Are these both sentences ok?
I'm not sure about the 2nd one if it should be have or has.
(...that they has probably only one life.)
Last edited by emsr2d2; 21-May-2010 at 12:59. Reason: Extra info
Hi Nightmare85. Just to let you know, I'm not a teacher yet, but a dedicated student of grammar!
Technically, as we are talking about everyone it should take the singular form, I.E., his/her/its. When we are describing what everyone is doing, we do indeed use the singular form of the verb (for example, everyone likes music) However, it is more common to use the plural form of the possessive pronoun (everyone has their own music taste). Yes, there is a terrible contradiction in this sentence, but that's what sounds best! I believe that this could have become the accepted version because "their" is not gender specific, whereas "his" and "her" are. If we said "everyone has his own musical taste", that would imply in modern speech (probably due to political correctness - the same reason for which we should now say "humankind" instead of "mankind") that every person you are referring to is male.
To answer your questions specifically, the correct forms of the sentences in modern English, according to my analysis, are:
 Everyone has their own opinion.
 Everyone feels sad when someone breaks up with them.
 Everyone knows that they have probably only one life.
In , we don't use the singular form of to have because it is a separate clause to the one including everyone. I.E., you would never say "they has..." on its own.
I hope this helps.
Yes. So is your original his/her/its. English lacks a possessive specifically for an unspecified agent.