Neither John nor Mary has a home of their own.

Neither John nor Mary has a home of his/her/their own.

Which one in bold-type is (a) grammatically correct?
(b) mostly often used?

Hi Alan!
Could you please help me with this question…

Hi Foreigner,
As a matter of fact, it’s you who is expected to give an answer (it may be right or wrong but it would be your guess). Why don’t you try and consult a dictionary? Even if your guess is wrong, you’ll remember it. Otherwise, you will always depend on the other’s help.

Hi Euqene!

Usually I post questions (especially grammar ones) that seem really difficult to me and it is not easy to find their ACCURATE (!) answers anywhere.
That’s why, I am addressing the high-qualified teachers on the forum…)

***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Hello, Foreigner:

  1. I am 99.99% sure that most Americans would use “their.”

  2. When I was young (back in the days of the dinosaurs), people used “he,” “him,” and “his” to refer to both males and females. Then in the 1960’s, some ladies said that it was unfair to use those pronouns for ladies.

a. So today, we say something like: Everyone must bring his/her book to class tomorrow./ Everyone must bring their book to class tomorrow.

  1. The grammatically correct one in your sentence? Well, a few people would probably say that “his” is the correct one – especially if your teacher still follows the “old-fashioned” rule. I think that some teachers of English in other countries still follow the rules of “book English.” For example: “It is I” instead of today’s very popular “It is me.”

  2. My personal advice is to use “their.” If you use “his,” you are going to upset many ladies. And that is not a good idea, is it!


Native speakers from around the world use ‘their’ in this case.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: Workers in a field[YSaerTTEW443543]

If you say “Neither John nor Mary has a home of their own” then the singular nature of “their” is quite blatant. Many people can tolerate this in casual English, but some (including me) dislike it in polished or formal English. “Neither John nor Mary have a home of their own” may sound more harmonious to some: “neither … nor …” should strictly take a singular verb (when the nouns are singular), but less strictly it is treated as plural, and whether doing so is better or worse than treating “their” as singular is a matter of opinion.

Another option is “Neither John nor Mary has a home of his or her own.”

Singular “they” and its alternatives is probably one of the most debated points in English grammar. “his” was formerly used in some cases to include people of either sex, but mostly in generic cases such as “Everyone took his seat”. I’m not sure it ever worked with named or identified females, and anyway it is not a recommended style nowadays.

I totally agree with Dozy. ‘Neither John nor Mary have a home of their own’ is the best option.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: Washing windows[YSaerTTEW443543]

Well, the subject proved more complicated than I originally thought. For me, ‘have’ was the obvious option as “Neither John nor Mary has a home of her own.” sounds ambiguous (nothing was said about John’s home). But the reality made me think there’s a ‘yes’ to almost any ‘no’:

  1. "Neither his son nor his daughter were at the funeral. … sh/neither
  2. “Neither he nor his wife eats meat.”
  3. “A verb following a compound subject that uses neither… should be in the singular if both subjects are in the singular: neither Jack nor John has done the work” … olicy=true
  4. “Neither Frank nor Lilly lives in Eugene.” (second subject singular)
    “Neither Axel nor my other friends care about their future.” (second subject plural) … othand.htm

Seems same dividing case as “None of the passengers was/were injured.”

“Neither John nor Mary has a home of her own” is more wrong than ambiguous.