Asking about one item in the question and generalizing it using "they" in the response options

meijin

Senior Member
Japanese
Hi, please see the following example survey question and response options I made up.

Q. Why did you buy a guitar?

1. They look cool.
2. They are fun to play.
3. To play it in public.
4. To give it to someone as a gift
5. I just wanted to buy one

...and the list goes on.

Being fully aware that poor response options like these wouldn't be seen in real surveys, I'd like to know if the use of "they" (meaning "guitars") in #1 and #2 is correct even though the question is asking about one guitar.
 
  • sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think 1 and 2 are ok. The singular "It looks cool" and "It is fun to play" are not really idiomatic answers (and the first one could in any case appear to mean "Because buying a guitar looks cool").
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Yes, I don't have any objection to using the plural like that to ask about the appeal of a product which you've only bought one of.

    I think it's stylistically awkward to mix singular and plural in the answer selections, although I can't think of an easy workaround in that particular example.
     
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