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I wanted to email a group of students to check how they are going with their assignment and it occurred to me that "how is everyone going with their assignment" does not seem grammatically correct. Matching a singular subject "everyone" with a plural word "their" seems a bit odd. However, "how is everyone going with his/her assignment" sounds more off.

Thanks heaps! Any comment would be highly appreciated.

Wen

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, Matt E. Эллен, TimLymington, tchrist, choster Apr 7 '14 at 14:21

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Could you remove this confusion by going for the simpler

How is everyone going with the assignment?

It should be clear what you mean with this email.

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I think the whole sentence sounds off to begin with. How can one "go" with an assignment in the first place? Perhaps I'm just not familiar with the expression.

Everyone in this context is a second person pronoun, and it doesn't make sense to speak to someone (or a group of someone) in the second person and then refer to them with third person pronouns (his/her).

Perhaps one of these alternatives:

How is everyone doing with the assignment?
How is everyone's assignment going?
How is everyone doing with your assignments?

Note that with the last example, the actual second person point of view is consistent throughout.

The confusion comes from the fact that everyone can be either a third or second-person pronoun. You're using it as a second-person pronoun in this case, but then trying to follow it up with third person pronouns which you can't do.

  • "How is everyone doing with your assignments?" sounds a bit cumbersome. The first would be my choice. – Ronan Apr 7 '14 at 9:19
  • @Ronan I agree that it is cumbersome, but it demonstrates the proper pronoun usage which is what the OP was asking about. – leigero Apr 7 '14 at 9:27
  • @leigero Thanks for your answer! I have always under the impression that "How are you doing?" and "How are you going? (or How is it going?)" are used interchangeably. Perhaps they are interchangeable only when used alone? – Wen Apr 7 '14 at 22:20
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As long as you're addressing a group of young people via an informal means of communication, you could substitute the 2nd person plural "you guys" for "everybody," and say:

How are you guys doing with your assignment?

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