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A company and its/their employees...

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Carmencita, Nov 20, 2004.

  1. Carmencita Senior Member

    Spain - Spanish
    Good afternoon!
    When referring to a company (a firm), which is the best pronoun to be used: it or they?? :confused:
    I'm waiting for your answers. Have a nice Saturday! ;)
  2. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Hola Carmencita,

    In AE[American English], it is 'it'. But be sure to get some British thoughts on this. When I read British newspapers and magazines, I'm often surprised to see the different treatments of singular and plural when referring to organizations.

    Un saludo,
  3. dave

    dave Senior Member

    UK - English
    OK, some British thoughts. Cuchu is correct, and we Britishers do tend to use plural verbs and pronouns where perhaps we shouldn't.

    With a company name you will almost always be correct if you use the singular. E.g:
    MacDonalds has reported pre-tax profits of trillion dollars. It later announced that it would be freezing the pay of it's one-star employees for the next 12 months.
    You may sometimes see or hear plurals in this sentence, but they should be avoided.

    Things get more difficult when talking about other organisations, groups, teams etc. You will very often hear things like:

    The government have today announced ....
    England are playing terribly.
    The police are introducing tasers ...

    This is beacuse we see these organistions as collectives of many people. Sometimes, the use of a singular pronoun would sound very strange. For example, talking about England (the football team):

    England are playing terribly - they haven't had a single chance to score.

    You would never hear:
    *England are playing terribly - it hasn't had a single chance to score.*

    A grammarian will no doubt be able to explain this in more detail, but those are my initial thoughts. In the meantime, feel free to come back with some more examples and we'll see what sounds best!
  4. quehuong Senior Member

    Vietnam, Vietnamese
    Use its if the antecedent of the pronoun is the company, and use their if the antecedent is the owners of the company and has been mentioned in a previous sentence.
  5. jacinta Senior Member

    USA English
    This is another one of those rules that tends to get ignored and misused. Here is an example of how I would use it and I assure you I am not alone.

    That company has its share of problems. They will probably be bankrupt by next summer.
    The correct sentence would be "It will probably be bankrupt..." but it is very common to use the plural pronoun.
    And how about a sports team? LA is losing their head coach this year. Or: The Lakers are losing their head coach this year. (They aren't really, just an example)

    In the first sentence, LA is a single noun. (LA is an abreviation of Los Angeles.) It should be followed by its. Most would say "their".

    In the sencond sentence, The Lakers is a team, one body, and it would be correct to say its but it sounds wrong so we say their as a convenience, in my opinion.

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