their or his?

Status
Not open for further replies.
V

vladz

Guest
What pronoun should I use in the below sentence. My answer is his because of the antecedent everybody but their is commonly used in my country. So what should i use?

When the speaker sat down, everybody in the hall stood up and clapped (his/their) hand.
 

MikeNewYork

VIP Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
Academic
Native Language
American English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
vladz said:
What pronoun should I use in the below sentence. My answer is his because of the antecedent everybody but their is commonly used in my country. So what should i use?

When the speaker sat down, everybody in the hall stood up and clapped (his/their) hand.

This is the subject of great debate in English-speaking countries. I am a language conservative who still objects to using plural pronouins for singular gender-unknown uses. That said, there is almost no alternative to "their" in your sentence. I would use "hands", however.

I would rewrite the sentence myself.

When the speaker sat down, all the people in the hall stood up and clapped (their) hands.
 

Alidar

Member
Joined
Jun 7, 2004
Hi!
This is my first contribution in the forum, and I'm interested in this issue.
In fact, when you use 'his', you exclude some people from the attendance. I mean, with the possessive adjective 'his', you mean that all people in the hall are men. It's better to use their, lest you might be considered gender-biased.
I speak from a linguistic point of view. I'm a teacher of English, but it is not my native tongue. So there might be something regional related to your country and different from my approach.
Some liguists think that 'their' is less formal, in this way you can use 'his/her' instead.
Your sentence would be
When the speaker sat down, everybody in the hall stood up and clapped his/her hands.
I hope this is clear and useful enough.
 

MikeNewYork

VIP Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
Academic
Native Language
American English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
Alidar said:
Hi!
This is my first contribution in the forum, and I'm interested in this issue.
In fact, when you use 'his', you exclude some people from the attendance. I mean, with the possessive adjective 'his', you mean that all people in the hall are men. It's better to use their, lest you might be considered gender-biased.
I speak from a linguistic point of view. I'm a teacher of English, but it is not my native tongue. So there might be something regional related to your country and different from my approach.
Some liguists think that 'their' is less formal, in this way you can use 'his/her' instead.
Your sentence would be
When the speaker sat down, everybody in the hall stood up and clapped his/her hands.
I hope this is clear and useful enough.

Welcome to ther forum.

The good news is that rephrasing is always a possibility. :wink:
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top