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    #1

    Our neighbor's house

    Our neighbor’s house is very large.
    Our house is much smaller than (1) .
    The correct answers is (1) theirs.

    Since “neighbor” is a singular form, I thought the answer of (1) was his/hers.
    Is the reason because “neighbor” in the sentence refers to a neighbor family but plural family members are presumed?

    Do you usually use “they” for “a neighbor” when you don't care about the exact number?
    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by popri; 17-May-2016 at 16:43. Reason: typo

  1. Piscean's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: I'd like an explanation for the answer.

    It's the use of singular they/them/their(s)when the gender of the person is unknown or unimportant. If you know the neighbour's gender, then his or hers, as appropriate, would be more natural.

    If the second word is actually neighbors', then theirs is necessary.

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    #3

    Re: Our neighbor's house

    I have changed your thread title.


    Extract from the Posting Guidelines:

    'Thread titles should include all or part of the word/phrase being discussed.'

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    #4

    Re: Our neighbor's house

    Thanks to both of you.

    Though I remember that you should use "it" when you don't know the gender, I didn't know that I can also use "they."

    Thank you for changing the title. I'll be careful next time.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Our neighbor's house

    Quote Originally Posted by popri View Post
    Thanks to both of you.

    Though I remember that you should use "it" when you don't know the gender, I didn't know that I can also use "they."

    Thank you for changing the title. I'll be careful next time.
    You shouldn't use "it" when referring to a person.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  3. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Our neighbor's house

    Quote Originally Posted by popri View Post
    Our neighbor’s house is very large.
    Our house is much smaller than (1) .
    The correct answers is (1) theirs.

    Since “neighbor” is a singular form, I thought the answer of (1) was his/hers.
    Is the reason because “neighbor” in the sentence refers to a neighbor family but plural family members are presumed?

    Do you usually use “they” for “a neighbor” when you don't care about the exact number?
    Thanks in advance.
    A neighbor is one person (note the "A"). Neighbors are more than one (note the "s").

    Whether one person may be called "they" is an issue that even the best-educated native English speakers disagree about. Personally, I wouldn't couple "neighbor's" with "their."

    - If more than one person lives in the house, I'd say "neighbors'."

    - If just one person lives there, I'd say "his" or "her."

    - If I didn't know my neighbor's gender (not likely), I'd just say "Our house is much smaller."
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  4. Roman55's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Our neighbor's house

    It seems extremely unlikely that you wouldn't know your neighbour's gender and at the same time know that he or she lives alone.
    I am not a teacher

  5. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Our neighbor's house

    Quote Originally Posted by Roman55 View Post
    It seems extremely unlikely that you wouldn't know your neighbour's gender and at the same time know that he or she lives alone.
    Exactly. Hence the "not likely." Does that make sense, Popri?

    By the way, Roman and I are spelling neighbor/neighbour differently because Roman speaks British English and I speak American.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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    #9

    Re: Our neighbor's house

    Thanks to all of you.

    This is a part of one practice question made by a native speaker.
    Q1. Our neighbor's house is very large.
    Our house is much smaller than (1) .
    Their house is larger than (2) .

    So, it might be different from English being used in the real world.
    If you notice “Their” of the 3rd sentence, you might be able to answer “theirs” for question (1). But I didn’t know some native speakers use “they” to describe singular form of “neighbor.” So I had answered his/hers. But the book goes it wrong. So I’m here to ask about the answer. Maybe “neighbor’s” should have been typed “neighbors’ house.”

    Also, I understand there is a conflict among native speakers if you should use “they” for a neighbor whose gender is unknown or unimportant. Thank you.

    I hope you understand my English.

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    #10

    Re: Our neighbor's house

    Given the final sentence of those three, I think they mis-punctuated "neighbors'". I think they meant to use the plural.

    Our neighbours' house is very large.
    Our house is much smaller than theirs.
    Their house is larger than ours.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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