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darinmex - Feb 12th 2011, 19:53
A bystander videotaped the police beating using their cell phone.
sacredceltic - Mar 20th 2011, 01:16
linked to 800206
ondo - Mar 20th 2011, 17:46
linked to 801084
Tximist - Feb 22nd 2013, 02:55
linked to 2242967

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Sentence #752985

eng
A bystander videotaped the police beating using their cell phone.

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Comments

  1. Mar 20th 2011, 01:04
    using "HIS/HER cellphone" ?
  2. Mar 20th 2011, 01:08
    People sometimes say things like this when the gender is unknown. But this is one of those cases where it actually sounds a bit strange to me.

    I think that, if I didn't know the gender in this case, I would just say "a cell phone".
  3. Mar 20th 2011, 01:14
    I know they do, however, I suggest this should be tagged as "popular" english or something, because it is grammatically incorrect.
  4. Mar 20th 2011, 01:20
    Nope. People have been doing this for centuries. English is a language that is defined by what people speak. There is no "authority" like with French and some other languages. So if everyone says it, it is correct.

    The only reason this is considered "incorrect" (and certainly not grammatically, as it could refer to a different "they" in context) is because some prescriptivists decided they didn't like it...
  5. Mar 20th 2011, 01:35
    >English is a language that is defined by what people speak.

    Yes it is very much and I'll remind you so in due time...
  6. Mar 20th 2011, 16:56
    In this sentence "his or her" would sound stange to me. Because of the problems of gender in the English language the use of "their" when the gender is unknown is common, though, as Sacredceltic points out, grammatically incorrect. I'll put a "non-standard grammar" tag on this one.
  7. Mar 20th 2011, 17:07
    thank you...
  8. Mar 20th 2011, 17:09
    > grammatically incorrect.

    [citation needed]

    Most style guides I have seen take an officially neutral position on this debate. And English is based on consensus, not voting or authority.
  9. Mar 20th 2011, 17:19
    Also, as I tried to say before, this is definitely not grammatically incorrect. However, it *can* be semantically incorrect, if you start with the assumptions that "their" refers to the bystander, and that "they" can't be singular.

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