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
  • 4
    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? – snailplane 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


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]

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.