Its vs. Their

Can we replace 'its' with 'their'? If yes, when can we do this? To know if they are truly interchangeable or not, don't waste another minute and read this part.

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

What Might Cause the Confusion?

Both 'its' and 'their' are pronouns. 'Its' is a singular pronoun, and 'their' is a plural pronoun. So, the basic rule is to use 'its' with singular nouns and 'their' with plural nouns.
But there might be a case when these two pronouns can be confusing and that's the case of collective nouns.

Collective Nouns

Consider these two sentences:
Which one of them is correct?

The CBS network is recruiting its news reporters.

In American English, it is more common to use singular verbs or pronouns with a collective noun.

The CBS network are recruiting their news reporters.

In British English, a collective noun takes a plural verb form and plural pronoun.

The CBS network is a singular noun, but both of these examples are considered grammatically correct. How?
It all comes down to whether you consider the CBS network as a single unit or a collective noun? A collective noun is a singular noun, like 'staff' or 'group', that refers to a group of people or things. They can be used with either a singular or a plural verb.

But for nouns that are obviously plural, you must always use plural verbs and pronouns.

The clothes seem old and shabby, but their price is high.

Bottom-line

If you want to refer to all members of a collective noun as one single unit, you can use 'its' to refer to it. But, if you want to refer to every single member of a collective noun as different individuals, you can use 'their' to refer to them.

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