they

they
they
W1S1 [ðeı] pron [used as the subject of a verb]
[Date: 1100-1200; : Old Norse; Origin: their]
1.) used to refer to two or more people or things that have already been mentioned or are already known about
Bob and Sue said they wouldn't be able to come.
Ken gave me some flowers. Aren't they beautiful?
They all want to come to the wedding.
2.) they say/think etc
used to state what people in general say or think
They say it's bad luck to spill salt.
3.) spoken used to refer to a particular organization or group of people
Where are they going to build the new highway?
They're going to take an X-ray.
4.) used when talking about someone who may be male or female, to avoid saying 'he or she'
If anyone has any information related to the crime, will they please contact the police.
Every child, whoever they are, deserves to have a mum and a dad.
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GRAMMAR
You can use they , them , and their to refer to a single person when you do not want to show that the person is male or female. People do this because they want to avoid suggesting that the person can only be male, or using longer expressions such as 'he or she', 'him or her' etc : If anyone doesn't like it, they can leave. |When a friend upsets you, do you tell them? |Someone has left their coat.
This use is acceptable and very common in speech, and is becoming more acceptable in writing as well.
However, some people consider this use to be incorrect. You can sometimes avoid the problem by making the subject plural : If people don't like it, they can leave. |When friends upset you, do you tell them?
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Dictionary of contemporary English. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • they — (thā) pron. 1) Used to refer to the ones previously mentioned or implied. 2) Usage Problem Used to refer to the one previously mentioned or implied, especially as a substitute for generic he: »Every person has rights under the law, but they don t …   Word Histories

  • They — (IPAEng|ðeɪ) is a third person, personal pronoun (subject case) in Modern English.UsageThe singular they is the use of this pronoun, where they is used as a gender neutral singular rather than plural pronoun. The correctness of this usage is… …   Wikipedia

  • they — [ ðeı ] pronoun *** They is used as the subject of a verb: They killed him. In formal English they can also be used after the verb to be, especially before a relative clause: It is they who are telling lies. 1. ) used for referring to a group of… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • They — ([th][=a]), pron. pl.; poss. {Theirs}; obj. {Them}. [Icel. [thorn]eir they, properly nom. pl. masc. of s[=a], s[=u], [thorn]at, a demonstrative pronoun, akin to the English definite article, AS. s[=e], se[ o], [eth][ae]t, nom. pl. [eth][=a]. See… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • they'd — [ ðeıd ] short form 1. ) the usual way of saying or writing they would. This is not often used in formal writing: They said they d be happy to help. 2. ) the usual way of saying or writing they had when had is an AUXILIARY verb. This is not often …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • they're — (they are) n. they exist, they live, they occupy a certain position, they exist in a certain state …   English contemporary dictionary

  • they'd — [ðeıd] 1.) the short form of they had ▪ If only they d been there. 2.) the short form of they would ▪ It s a pity my parents didn t come they d have enjoyed it …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • they — ► PRONOUN (third person pl. ) 1) used to refer to two or more people or things previously mentioned or easily identified. 2) people in general. 3) informal people in authority regarded collectively. 4) used to refer to a person of unspecified sex …   English terms dictionary

  • they'd — (they had) v. verb used together with another verb to express past tense they d (they would) v. verb used together with another verb to express future tense …   English contemporary dictionary

  • they — [thā] pron. sing. he, she, it [ME thei < ON thei r, nom. masc. pl. of the demonstrative pron.; like THEIR & THEM (ME theim), also < the ON demonstrative forms, thei replaced earlier ME he (hi) because the native pronouns were phonetically… …   English World dictionary

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