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Cherilnc
03-25-2005, 06:39 AM
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HConn
03-25-2005, 07:13 AM
It's "their lives."

Medievalist
03-25-2005, 07:46 AM
As HConn says, it's "their."

This is because every* (one, man, person, etc.) is a bit odd in English, sometimes taking a plural, and other times, a singular. There's a nifty usage (http://www.bartleby.com/61/36/E0253600.html) note in the Blessed American Heritage Dictionary.

reph
03-25-2005, 10:30 AM
"Their" with a singular antecedent always looks wrong to me, but I'm losing that war. It doesn't look wrong to enough other readers.

Ah-HA! The American Heritage's Usage Note has this sentence: "The use of plural pronouns in such cases is common in speech, but it is still widely regarded as incorrect in writing."

Lauri B
03-25-2005, 06:10 PM
[QUOTE=Here is the sentence: He pleaded for everyone to turn his life over to God before it was too late.

It is supposed to be "his life" rather than "their lives" right?

His life sounds like I'm talking about the subject, but I'm not. I'm talking about "everyone." Does that make any sense?[/QUOTE]


What about changing the sentence so you don't have to deal with that particular construction? For example: "Turn your lives over to God," he pleaded, "before it is too late."

If you don't want to change the sentence, the correct usage (as everyone else here has stated) is "their lives," since the word "everyone" is inclusive and plural.

Take care,
Lauri

reph
03-26-2005, 12:02 PM
If you don't want to change the sentence, the correct usage (as everyone else here has stated) is "their lives," ...
"As everyone else here has stated"? Wow, that invisibility feature on this new forum works better than I thought.

SJB
03-26-2005, 12:43 PM
Well, regardless of whether this post can be seen or not, I have to agree with Reph. The history of the words "their" and "every" is all well and fascinating, but the use of "their" in the way described sounds wrong in modern English. Whether this is the fault of evil prescriptivists or nineteenth century grammarians or leprechauns, It Is So. Otherwise, there wouldn't be a topic on this forum about it.

Consider the sentence "Everyone loves their wives." All the visible people posting to this thread would presumably NOT be troubled by disturbing Mormon-related thoughts upon reading that sentence, as I unfortunately am.

reph
03-26-2005, 11:18 PM
"Everyone" has two components. "Every" has a checkered history, all right, but what about "one"? Surely no word better embodies the idea of singularity.

Torin
03-27-2005, 12:18 AM
If you don't want to change the sentence, the correct usage (as everyone else here has stated) is "their lives," since the word "everyone" is inclusive and plural.


Okay, so in "everyone ... has stated", "everyone" is treated as singular, but in the original sentence, it's plural? Can't we pick one and stick with it? LOL. There are days I hate English. I know "everyone has stated" is correct. "Everyone have stated" just makes my brain hurt, but then I want to say "his life" or "her life", depending. *sigh*

I think I should go make supper or coffee or get ready for Easter vigil or something. :)

Torin

dragonjax
03-27-2005, 05:53 AM
Here is the sentence: He pleaded for everyone to turn his life over to God before it was too late.

Why not recast the sentence?

He pleaded for all people to turn their lives over to God before it was too late.

He pleaded for all men and women to turn their lives over to God before it was too late.

"Turn your life over to God," he pleaded to everyone, "before it's too late."

arainsb123
03-29-2005, 04:08 AM
"Everyone" is single. Otherwise, you'd use "are" instead of "is" and "have" instead of "has." Thus, using "they're" would be gramatically incorrect.

dragonjax
03-29-2005, 05:35 AM
"Everyone" is single. Otherwise, you'd use "are" instead of "is" and "have" instead of "has." Thus, using "they're" would be gramatically incorrect.
Yes, "everyone" is single. But sometimes the gramatically correct option is simply not the best read.

"Who do you love?"

Technically, this should be, "Whom do you love?" But let's face it: in conversation and colloquial writing, the gramatically correct version feels stilted, forced.

I'm a huge fan of re-casting a sentence if it doesn't read "properly." If it "sounds" off, then chances are it could be better worded.

Medievalist
03-29-2005, 06:16 AM
So
"Everyone" is single. Otherwise, you'd use "are" instead of "is" and "have" instead of "has." Thus, using "they're" would be gramatically incorrect.

Actually, no everyone is not always single, and you would absolutely not, ever, use "they're," which is a contraction of "they are," not a possessive. The third plural possessive would be "their."

Let's look at the original sentence:

He pleaded for everyone to turn his life over to God before it was too late.

First, let it be known that grammar doesn't exist in a vacuum. Really, we need the sentence in context.

The subject is "he"; the predicate "pleaded."

But notice that the "his" is a vague pronoun reference, as the sentence stands in isolation. Is the subject pleading for his own life? Or the life of "everyone." Since everyone is an indefinite pronoun, it refers to all members of a particular group. So in that sense "everyone" is plural. If you use "their" it's very clear that the members of the group "everyone" are to turn their individual lives over to God.

But like Reph, I think that looks ugly. (Yes, I know, Jane Austen uses the singular "their." I'm not Jane Austen, and thus can't afford it.)

Recast the sentence. Maybe even get rid of "he pleaded." Possibly use dialog instead of a declarative statement.

dragonjax
03-29-2005, 06:29 AM
Recast the sentence. Maybe even get rid of "he pleaded." Possibly use dialog instead of a declarative statement.

Exactamundo. :D