Collective Pronouns and Collective Nouns

Some pronouns, such as everyone, appear plural but are really singular (everyone) and require singular pronouns. Thus, it is grammatically incorrect for a robber to say:

Everyone should empty their wallets.

Rather, the miscreant should opt for:

Everyone should empty his or her wallet.

Or, since all is plural, the felon could instead say:

All the people here should empty their wallets.

No doubt we can all rest more easily with our robbers speaking proper English!

Collective Nouns

Another issue in pronoun agreement occurs with collective nouns such as team or Writing Crew. While only one Writing Crew exists, the group has multiple members. So, is Writing Crew singular and plural?

The Writing Crew does its job well.

In general, I recommend treating collective nouns as singular:

In this guide, however, we have made an exception by treating the noun "audience" as plural:

If you answer your audience's questions, they will be grateful.

We just couldn't bear to refer to the audience as an "it."

If you really want to highlight the members of a group, you also have the option of rewriting a sentence with an unmistakably plural subject:

The Writing Crew does its job well.

The Crew's tutors do their jobs well.
Pronoun Agreement

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