an organization = them / it


Senior Member
South Korea, Han-gul
➊ The passage comes from web-surfing.

In the sentence, I am not sure what the underlined “them” represents. It seems to stand for “an organization.” But can “an organization(the singular)” can be represented by the plural pronoun “them”?
The ability to review provides the individual with the ability to understand precisely what information an organization has accumulated about them and to evaluate the accuracy of that information.

➋ Another passage from web-surfing with same question

Can “an organization(the singular)” can be represented by the plural pronoun “them”?

One of the things needed for managing diversity and multiculturalism in an organization is understanding the nature and meaning of them.
  • papakapp

    Senior Member
    English - NW US
    In your example, them refers to individual. In your second example the "them" refers to diversity and multiculturalism.

    However, I can imagine a sentence that would refer to an organization as "them" that I would consider correct...

    "Bank of America is so corrupt that I can't stand them." - for example.


    Senior Member
    UK English
    In your first quote, them refers to the individual. This is the use of they to refer to either him or her.

    Your second quote is from a Korean source, in which them should read these words. It doesn't seem natural to write them.


    New Member
    English / Cantonese
    It's very common in colloquial English for speakers to address a singular noun that denotes a collective group of people (such as group, organization, society, etc.) by a plural pronoun such as "they" or "them".

    I have been taught in grammar classes that this is not correct (that the only way you can refer to any countable singular noun such as "an organization" is "it"). However, more often than not, people don't obey this rule. It can also sound quite odd to follow such a rule. For example, saying "Look at the group. It is happy." sounds very iffy to my ears. If you wanted to really be clear with your antecedents, perhaps you can be more specific, for example, "Look at the group. Its members are happy."

    This is what I find, but you may perhaps want to listen to more opinions about this.
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