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.

  • 'Everyone is singular' uses language loosely. 'Everyone takes a singular verb form.' Of course, the referents are plural (all the people being referred to). Aug 20 at 11:15

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

  • 1
    Yep. After all, every ONE person in the world is part of the set of everyones.
    – OneProton
    Aug 6 '10 at 18:04
  • 'Everyone is singular' uses language loosely. What does it mean? That it takes a singular verb form? Then a +70 answer is seen to be 'Everyone takes a singular verb form and therefore takes a singular verb form.' Add to this a lack of references .... Aug 20 at 11:18

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, treat 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."


Consider the sentence using the singular "child":

Every child was convinced that Uncle Bob would go to the game.

It makes intuitive sense when viewed in this context since "Every children" sounds weird. To fix this, we would have to specify some grouping of children.

It follows that "every one" should be singular:

Every one [of them] was convinced that Uncle Bob would go to the game.

And finally if you remove the space, we can understand why "everyone" acts singular even though it generally implies many people.

Everyone was convinced that Uncle Bob would go to the game.

  • this would explain best
    – Ooker
    Mar 3 '16 at 6:44

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

  • 3
    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. Aug 6 '10 at 18:24
  • 4
    -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
  • 1
    @nohat: thanks for the heads-up. No "Grammar Girl" again. Ever ;)
    – VonC
    Aug 6 '10 at 18:34

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