Neither Johnny nor Samuel believes that yelling at…

PHart

Senior Member
English - United States
Do I use "his" or "their" in the following sentence?:

--Neither Johnny nor Samuel believes that yelling at customers as often as their/his boss does will result in positive publicity for the company.

I know that you use a singular verb here, but I'm not sure if the possessive adjective can refer to both or just to Samuel.

Thanks.
 
  • JillN

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Well, if you say "their" that means the boss is both Johnny's and Samuel's.

    If you say "his", that means the boss is Johnny's OR Samuel's, or possibly even another unmentioned person's. Or even more than one unmentioned person's.
     

    PHart

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    So, even though the verb has to be singular, it is grammatically correct to say "their" if you want to express that the boss is both of theirs? It doesn't matter that this is somewhat contradictory?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Their boss is a nice man.
    His boss is a nice man.
    The boss is a nice man.

    The their has no relation (singular/plural) to the need for singular verb after boss.
     
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