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I've understood how to use singular they on a single sentence, but the problem comes with articulated sentences like this one:

If a person lies to you this way, they are probably thieves.

My doubt is about its correctness, I would also say it this way:

If a person lies to you this way, they are probably a thief.

Is the second sentence correct?

  • If you use the singular they, and add in the dropped way, the second sentence is correct. – Peter Shor Apr 30 '14 at 18:32
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    First, almost nobody would say "they are" -- it's contracted to they're most of the time. Second, predicate count nouns with an indefinite subject are normally singular, with an indefinite article, unless the speaker wishes to emphasize the non-singularity of the subject. This is definitely not the case with singular they; treat it as a singular pronoun for any coreferential needs. – John Lawler Apr 30 '14 at 18:43
  • What is an articulated sentence? – snailboat May 1 '14 at 0:55
  • Maybe it's not the most proper term, I mean a long sentence made of many prepositions connected. – Ramy Al Zuhouri May 1 '14 at 10:41
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Try:

If {a person / someone} lies to you like this, they are probably a thief. [Singular subject]

If people lie to you like this, they're probably thieves. [Plural subject]

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