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Singular they?

kevaoekevaoe 43 replies17 threads Junior Member
Hey guys, I just took a test and it was something like ...Anyone would be able to try out if THEY wanted to whatever.

Is they right? I chose no error, because I've always used they as a singular asexual pronoun, but the answers said they was wrong because it's plural. What does collegeboard think?
edited August 2013
13 replies
Post edited by kevaoe on
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Replies to: Singular they?

  • Biggie_SmallsBiggie_Smalls 566 replies21 threads Member
    I think you mean collegeconfidential, but it's all good. It would have to be "he" or "she" because "anyone" implies singular.
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  • cjgonecjgone - 1503 replies17 threads Senior Member
    That's actually incorrect usage of they. It is plural, and in this case anyone is "he or she".

    They cannot be subsituted for a singlular object of unknown gender. He or she is grammatically correctly.

    Like:


    Each has his or her own closet. (lol) Each = singular. So you use his or her not their in this case.
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  • soadquake981soadquake981 1514 replies60 threads Senior Member
    "They" is plural.
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  • amarkovamarkov 2281 replies7 threads Senior Member
    Personally, I think that singular they is used enough that it should be acceptable grammar. But that's irrelevant for the SAT, because collegeboard thinks otherwise.
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  • zweeboppzweebopp 209 replies15 threads Junior Member
    Anyone would be able to try out if (HE or SHE) wanted to.
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  • 12350961235096 16 replies6 threads New Member
    In common use, "they" as a third person, gender neutral, singular pronoun is often accepted and understood. Real grammar sticklers won't like it, and I try to catch and stop myself from using it, but it often just sounds so much simpler than any of the other, more "correct" options.

    That said, for the SAT and ACT, at least, refrain from using "they" in this fashion. I'm fairly sure they consider it to be wrong.

    Oh, and here's something for you:
    xkcd - A Webcomic - Parody Week: Dinosaur Comics

    :-)
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  • soadquake981soadquake981 1514 replies60 threads Senior Member
    Just because people use certain words colloquially (like singular "they") doesn't mean it becomes correct grammar. It just means that people use incorrect grammar in day-to-day conversations - nothing more.
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  • DougBetsyDougBetsy 5578 replies252 threads Senior Member
    Exactly, soadquake.

    Quite often I interview new employees and college interns. Those who can't use the correct pronoun in an important conversation (job interview) instantly move to the "B" list. If internships and real jobs matter to today's students, I'd urge them to brush up on their number-case agreement.
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  • MikeSartinMikeSartin 2 replies0 threads New Member
    The "singular _they_" exists and is widely accepted by grammarians. It is also called the epicine they. A recent and very casual review of released items from the College Board suggests that the epicine they is not directly tested. I would be very happy to hear from anyone who has conducted a similar review of released items with regard to this issue. I suspect that the epicine they cannot be tested because the test item would not be statistically valid. See: The inevitable epicene solution - Los Angeles Times AND Singular they
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  • MikeSartinMikeSartin 2 replies0 threads New Member
    epicene, not epicine Mea Culpa!
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  • marvin100marvin100 8568 replies1249 threads Senior Member
    epicene they will definitely be acceptable to the CB in our lifetimes, but not yet. For now, "they" must be plural and gender-neutral singular is "he or she."
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  • satman1111satman1111 943 replies48 threads Member
    subjects such as anyone, no one, each, everybody, etc. are all singular and therefore can not be "they" but must be "he" or "she"
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  • johnmaster1022johnmaster1022 1 replies0 threads New Member
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they - just because the SAT tests against it, doesn't mean it's wrong.
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