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Which is correct?

Everyone were convinced that he would go to the game.
Everyone was convinced that he would go to the game.

I think it's "was", because "everyone" is singular, but I just wanted to check.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 27 down vote accepted

Everyone agrees that everyone is singular and therefore singular verb forms agree with everyone.

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Yep. After all, every ONE person in the world is part of the set of everyones. –  Armstrongest Aug 6 '10 at 18:04

According to Diana Hacker's "A Canadian Writer's Reference" (p.123 section G1-d) you treat most indefinite pronouns as singular so the answer is "was."

"Indefinite pronouns refer to nonspecific persons or things. Even though the following indefinite pronouns may seem to have plural meanings, threat them as singular in formal English: anybody, anyone, each, either, everybody, everyone, everything, neither, none, no one, someone, something."

In an example, she writes, "everybody who signed up for the ski trip was taking lessons."

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There is a comprehensive article on the topic on Grammar Girl:

There are actually two issues concerning this topic:

  • Are the words everyone and everybody singular or plural?
  • And can I use a plural pronoun (such as their) to refer to these words?

Grammarians actually agree that the words everyone and everybody are singular.
Grammar Girl [...] says, everyone sounds like a lot of people, but in grammar land, everyone is a singular noun and takes a singular verb.

Now, if you’re in Britain, you don’t have to worry so much about everyone and everybody because sometimes they’re considered plural.
In Britain, it’s standard to use everyone and everybody with a singular verb and plural pronoun

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1  
I'm sceptical of the "sometimes they're considered plural" claim. It's true that 'everyone' and 'everybody' are used with 'they', but this feels like the common usage of 'they' in the singular, not 'everyone' in the plural. –  ShreevatsaR Aug 6 '10 at 18:24
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-1 for link to Grammar Girl. In this case she's correct, but she is just as often wrong or right but with the wrong justification. Anything from Grammar Girl, or the source she cites, Garner's Modern English Usage, should be taken with a big grain of rock salt. –  nohat Aug 6 '10 at 18:32
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@nohat: thanks for the heads-up. No "Grammar Girl" again. Ever ;) –  VonC Aug 6 '10 at 18:34

protected by kiamlaluno Mar 26 at 21:07

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