Everyone has their mobile phone

Test No. [color=blue]errors/elem-13 “Telephones”, question 7

Almost everybody today has their own mobiles phone or ‘cell phone’ as people in North America call it.

(a) everybody
(b) has
© mobiles phone

Test No. [color=blue]errors/elem-13 “Telephones”, answer 7

Almost everybody today has their own mobile phone or ‘cell phone’ as people in North America call it.

Correct entry: mobile phone
The error was: © mobiles phone

You have [color=green]found the error but your entry is [color=red]incorrect.
Almost everybody today has their own mobile phones or ‘cell phone’ as people in North America call it.
[size=200]_________________________[/size]

why is it not “mobile phones”?
why their and not his?
“everybody = his” or everybody=their

Hi Rich7,

That’s a very interesting question. Alan prefers to use this modern way of expressing the third person singular because it refers to both sexes - female as well as male.
So, instead of saying «everyone has his or her own mobile phone» (which is a rather clumsy construction) we say «everyone has their own mobile phone» meaning that «everyone»is one person, either female or male and thus it’s [color=blue]phone not [color=blue]phones.

Let me know if this makes sense to you.
Thanks
Torsten[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, talks: News report[YSaerTTEW443543]

However, dear Torsten, the point lies in the use of ‘their’ which is plural and this plural, I am afraid, means both male and female sexes and not either male or female, which is singular. So, in my opinion, ‘everyone’ does not go with ‘their’ unless we also assign the meaning [color=red]‘either he or she’ to the word ‘their’ in the lexicon and get it accepted accordingly. I hope I have made myself clear, haven’t I, Torsten?

Please comment on it.

T H Lawrence

Hi,

I am a stickler for ‘their’ as a possessive adjective to cover that odious expression ‘his or her’. And as a pronoun some people use s/he for ‘they’. To my mind in a sentence like this: When a child goes to school, they have to get used to the company of other children, is acceptable. After all in these kinds of constructions there is an implication that there is a refernce to male and female. Otherwise you would actually use ‘she’ or ‘he’ if you knew the gender of the person referred to.

Alan

Dear Alan,

In the case of ‘When a child goes to school, they have to get used to the company of other children’ we can more safely say: When a child goes to school, [color=red]it has to get used to the company of other children’ or ‘When [color=red]children go to school, they have to get used to the company of other children’. But my question is whether we can have two types of concord with the same subject in a single sentence. That is to say, when we begin the sentence we treat the subject as singular (child) and as we proceed we use it as plural (they). I am afraid it is inconsistent. A better way would, perhaps, be to invent one particular word meaning ‘either he or she’, ‘either man/boy or woman/girl’ which may, of course, be beyond our immediate hope. The nuance becomes more complex when we say: A student who knows their disability wants to ensure that they are not humiliated.

T H Lawrence.