They vs. Their

'They' and 'them' are both refer to a group of people, but they function differently in a sentence because they take different grammatical roles.

"They" vs. "Their" in the English Grammar

Main Similarity and Difference

'They' and 'their' are both third-person plural personal pronouns. But one of them is a subject pronoun and the other is considered a determiner.

'They': Subject Pronoun

'They' is a third-person subject pronoun. 'They' refers to a group of people, animals, or things.

They are our guests for this weekend.

Here, 'they' refers to a group of people.

They can kill a giraffe if they attack together.

Here, 'they' refers to a group of animals, for example a pride of lionesses.

The Singular 'They'

Instead of using 'he' or 'she', we can use 'they' to refer to a person whose sex is not mentioned or is unknown. This is called the 'singular they'.
Many non-binary people prefer to be called by the pronoun 'they', rather than 'he' or 'she'.

Everyone needs to know they are appreciated.

'Everyone' does not specify if we're referring to men or women. Therefore, we use 'they' to include both of them equally.

Elise loves to travel around the world. They prefer to travel by train.

Although, Elise is one person, but we used 'they' to be neutral about the gender of our subject.

Generic 'They'

We can use 'they' to refer to people in general, especially when we want to say a general idea or a famous saying.

You know what they say , money solves everything.

They say a widespread disease will soon kill thousands of people.

'Their': Possessive Determiner

'Their' is the possessive form of 'they'. We use 'their' to express that something belongs to or relates to a group of people, animals, or things.

Kevin and Paula are going to name their baby 'Alice'.

Their house was so big and luxurious.

Gender Neutrality

We can also use 'their' instead of 'his' or 'her' to show that something belongs or relates to a person without specifically and explicitly saying whether that person is a man or a woman.

Every boxer should compete according to their own weight.

Everyone should sign their contract individually.

In many countries, they still eat all their meals with family members.


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