their +singular/plural

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ABHISH

Member
hindi
I am facing a problem whether to use singular or plural after their in different cases.There is a sentence which I have read in a newspaper
1 I know enough marriages where people cheat on their spouse.
Why spouse is singular here ? Because people are plural and so they have different spouses,so it should be spouses.
Please tell me the logic why spouse has been used here ?
 
  • JuanEscritor

    Senior Member
    English - AmE
    This is no mistake. It is common to use their + singular when: (a) the group as a collective possesses a single thing; (b) we want to emphasize that each member of the group possesses only one of a thing.

    I think this is an example of the latter usage convention; the alternative their spouses risks the interpretation that some people in the group have multiple spouses and not necessarily that each member has one spouse of the many spouses they all have.

    Newspapers often put clarity above adherence to archaic and arbitrary prescriptivist grammar rules.

    JE
     
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