Plural or singular in this context?

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lycen

Senior Member
English and Chinese
Hi,

Let's say I would like to express 'Everyone is wrong about their role' to:

All of them are wrong about their role/rolesShould it be 'role' or 'roles'?

What if:

All of them are wrong about their own role/roles


Thanks.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    With 'their own role', the word 'own' makes each role specific to each person, so it should be singular 'role'. In the other versions, English has no strong preference: many people will say 'role' and many will say 'roles'.
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    With 'their own role', the word 'own' makes each role specific to each person, so it should be singular 'role'. In the other versions, English has no strong preference: many people will say 'role' and many will say 'roles'.
    Hello Entangledbank,

    If we omit the word (own) then can these be correct or not?

    All of them are wrong about their roles.= (they have seperate and different roles not related to eachother)
    All of them are wrong about their role. = (there is only one role which they all follow it)

    Is my estimation correct or not? I mean the explanation written by myself in parentheses.

    Thanks in advance.
     
    Last edited:

    lycen

    Senior Member
    English and Chinese
    With 'their own role', the word 'own' makes each role specific to each person, so it should be singular 'role'. In the other versions, English has no strong preference: many people will say 'role' and many will say 'roles'.
    In that case, would I be right to say 'their' here is singular and can be replaced by 'his/her'?

    i.e. All of them are wrong about his own role
     

    tabidots

    New Member
    American English (Midwest)
    All of them are wrong about their roles.= (they have sepearate and different roles not related to each other)
    All of them are wrong about their role. = (there is only one role, which they all follow it)

    Is my estimation correct or not? I mean the explanation written by myself in parentheses.
    To me, both sentences imply that they have separate and different roles. If there is only one role, I would say "All of them are wrong about the role."

    In that case, would I be right to say 'their' here is singular and can be replaced by 'his/her'?

    i.e. All of them are wrong about his own role
    No, because "all of them" is plural, and it is being used with the plural form of the verb, so "his" (being singular) sounds strange to me.

    If you want to use "his" (which is not really considered politically correct usage now, by the way) I would say "Each of them is wrong about his own role."
     
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