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    • Join Date: Dec 2005
    • Posts: 417

    Question pronouns

    Mr. and Mrs. Douglas are at a traver agency getting some information about their tours.
    What does their refer to?

    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 163

    Re: pronouns

    their is possessive, whatever it refers to belongs to someone. In this case it means the tours that the travel agency has.

    However, it could also mean the tours that belong Mr. and Mrs. Douglas, i.e. the tours that they will take. The correct meaning depends on whether the Douglas' have already bought the tour or not.

    when a possessive pronoun could point to more than one person or thing as an owner, you need to look at the context, if you don't know the context, there is no way to tell, but without context, the first one is probably correct, because a travel agency always has tours, and people who are there have probably not bought a tour yet. Also, people who go together can say we are going on a tour, but since there are two people you could also say that they each have a tour, so the Douglas' have tours (especially in the third person, like this sentence).

    It really is a perfectly ambiguous sentence. Good question!
    Last edited by JSmiley; 31-Oct-2006 at 19:39.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Hebrew
      • Home Country:
      • Israel
      • Current Location:
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    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 2

    Re: pronouns

    can't 'their' in this case refer to the travel agency's tour?

    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 163

    Re: pronouns

    Yes, that is most likely, but the "The Douglas' tours" is possible as well, because there are two Douglases, and they may each have at least one tour, which may or may not be the same as the other Douglas' tour, ...

    In any case, "the travel agency's tours" is simplest to understand and is therefore most likely to be correct of the two in real usage.

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