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Neither Ms. Perez nor Ms. Yanaka believes that watching as much television as her son Sam does will lead to anything productive.

Is her correct? or should it be their?

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closed as not a real question by FumbleFingers, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, Robusto, MετάEd, StoneyB Dec 28 '12 at 21:37

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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This requires more context. Is the antecedent for her contained in the sentence or does it belong to a third party or parties mentioned in a previous sentence? –  Robusto Dec 28 '12 at 13:33
    
What @Robusto said. In the absence of further context, I think this is NARQ. –  FumbleFingers Dec 28 '12 at 17:26

2 Answers 2

Using her is ambiguous, as we have no way of determining which of the ladies Sam is the son of.

Using their is incorrect unless Sam is the son of both ladies.

The proper way to resolve the situation is to specify which one of them Sam is the son of, thus:

Neither Ms. Perez nor Ms. Tanaka believes that watching as much TV as Ms. Perez's son Sam does will lead to anything productive.

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Just want to remark, if it's clear from the context whose son Sam is, then her is not ambiguous, and I think it reads more smoothly than your sentence too. –  Mr Lister Dec 27 '12 at 20:45
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@MrLister: ...but then in all likelihood "Sam" would be enough, as opposed to "her son Sam". So the original sentence is probably infelicitous in any context. –  Cerberus Dec 27 '12 at 20:51
    
@Cerberus You've got a point there. On the other hand, it might just be a style element. Just like Frank Herbert did in Dune, he wrote "the lady Jessica" all the time, instead of just "Jessica". Even if there were no other Jessicas. –  Mr Lister Dec 27 '12 at 20:52
    
Assuming of course that Ms Perez and Ms Yanaka are not lesbians married in common law, in which case their would indeed be correct ;-) –  spiceyokooko Dec 27 '12 at 21:06
    
@spiceyokooko, regarding use of their, it seems to me a bit politically incorrect to assume Ms Perez and Ms Yanaka have to be lesbians married in common law; ie they might not be married, or they might be conjoined twins with a common womb, or might even not be lesbians at all! –  jwpat7 Dec 27 '12 at 21:32

"... her ..." is correct; their is not relevant.

The sentence makes sense in the context where it is referring to someone's son Sam, which someone would have been referred to already and is someone other than the two women named in the sentence. As in, maybe,

Ms Yanrez was complaining about her children, telling Ms. Perez and Ms. Yanaka how her children watched too much TV. Neither Ms. Perez nor Ms. Yanaka believes that watching as much television as her son Sam does will lead to anything productive.

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