Singular and plural in this sentence...?


What’s wrong with this sentence?

“Everyone turned in early since they had a big day ahead of them.”

I know it’s technically incorrect, but how else can one say this? TIA - Jesse.

It souds ok. I’d say like this: Everyone came early as they had a big day ahead.

Thank you for responding, Mr. Smith.

It’s not okay though, that’s the trouble. We’re speaking of a group that is performing a collective action, in this case, going to bed, or “turning in.” There are several in the group so they have a big or busy day ahead of them. The group, being a group is singular, but the people in it are all performing an action, which makes it plural. (THEY are performing an action.

I have no problem with the original sentence in speech or in writing but I’m assured that it is technically incorrect. - Jesse.


I’d say “Everyone… his” or “Everyone… her”, so that you have the singular/singular match. “Everyone” is singular, of course.

What we really need – in the English language – is a singular unisex possessive pronoun, like “heir”.

Precisely, that’s why ‘they’ is the best on offer.


Thank you gentlemen, I think I love you! :smiley:

I’ve been engaged in an ongoing fight with my publisher’s proofreaders for years. They can’t tell me a way to get around it yet they object to sentences such as the above one. I don’t write reports (often), I write novels. And darn it, my guys, well, everyone turned in for the night since they all had a big day ahead of 'em! :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks again - Jesse.

But Alan (beating the dead horse), “they” is plural! :wink:

Of course, so is “y’all”, but that doesn’t stop Southerners from saying it to one person.

The following was a common scene until I got used to it (and grudgingly sort of accepted it):

Southerner: “How y’all doin’?”

Tom (looks around for other people to whom this guy might be referring): “Um… fine, thanks.”



Alan is so right!

All the best


if i hear some people making noise in my room what ca i say?
Who is there?
who are there?


It’s nice to know I’m not crazy, regarding this point anyway. :lol: Obviously, the English language is in need of remedial refining. Perhaps that’s why grammaticians fight over what is and isn’t correct so often. I find they’re a lot like doctors that way. Put twenty of them in a room and you’ll get twenty differing opinions on any given subject. Give them an hour alone and they’ll go 360 degrees on it. I can say this with reasonable certainly since I R one. :wink: Shhh! - Jesse.

P.S. Sorry if this shatters the confidence of any of you who are trusting enough to put your faith in doctors. There’s a reason we call it a practice, y’know. What you may not know is that you are the rats in the maze. We all are, and it’s (quite literally) discouraging.

I love this forum!

Variation on this theme:

A couple of changes of clothes is all that is necessary. (Singular, even though there are several items of clothing.)


A couple of changes of clothes are all that is necessary. (Going with the plural because of the clothing.)

Which is correct? - Jesse.

Who’s there? (standard query)

You might also say something like, “Shut up!”



Both are fine. It’s like the old, old story. Your government is crazy but my government are a fine group of men and women. It depends, in your sentence, if you’re thinking about the small quantity (a couple of) or the actual clothes. Life’s really not that complicated!


Strange in deed, for me the correct sentence would be the first, the verb goes with “a couple” which is singular
so that would be a couple of… is…, that’s how it works in french actually.
But i guess you’re right Alan, you should know much more than me on the subject.

that’s sooo right!! :slight_smile:

You folks are a hoot!

FWIW, personally, I like the first one, it just sounds right to me.

That may be indelicate or perceived as jealousy. For all you know, they might be doing the unmentionable. :wink: - Jess.

It is correct to use the word “each.” As in “… each had a big day tomorrow.”

It’s not really necessary. It also seems to point towards them having different experiences ahead, rather than sharing the same ‘big day’.