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  1. Lenka's Avatar

    • Join Date: May 2004
    • Posts: 863


    Everyone has to decide for themselves where they want to live.

    I wonder why "them" and "themselves" is used when talking about "everyone".... You say "everyone HAS, EATS, SEES etc. (the 3rd form)", so why isn't himselfs/herselvs, he/she used instead?

  2. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
    • Posts: 1,552

    Re: everyone

    The problem is that if you say "himself", one half of the world's population is left out. And if you say "herself", the other half is left out. And if you say "itself", that doesn't make sense.

    So, to make sure everybody is included, we say "themselves" and "they", but with a singular meaning.

    This is a very old technique, but it wasn't used for a long time until very recently. Until recently, we had a problem with the so-called "generic he", which means that we used to say: "Everyone has to decide for himself where he wants to live." English-speaking women (not surprisingly) found this unfair.

    As well as using "they" in this context, some other methods have been used, some with less success than others. For example, "Everyone has to decide for him/herself where (s)he wants to live." But how do you pronounce that?

    The simplest and most elegant method (which isn't always possible) is to put everything in the plural:

    All people have to decide for themselves where they want to live.


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