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I have some sentences and I’m not sure which ones are correct and which ones are not.

  1. They have their phones in their hands.
  2. They have their phone in their hands.
  3. They have their phone in their hand.

And when you add the word ‘each’ to it:

  1. They each have their phones in their hands.
  2. They each have their phone in their hands.
  3. They each have their phones in their hand.
  4. They each have their phone in their hand.

Which of these are correct and which aren’t? Why?

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The key here is that subject and verb must agree in number.

From the 1st group, the first sentence is the only one correct.

They have their phones in their hands.

If you use phone or hand, you are implying they have collectively one phone or one hand. Not likely.


Each is always singular. Technically, all 4 sentences of your second group are correct, with different implications.

They each have their phones in their hands.

Everyone is holding multiple phones with both hands.

They each have their phone in their hands.

Everyone is holding one phone with both hands.

They each have their phones in their hand.

Everyone is holding multiple phones with one hand. (Most unlikely)

They each have their phone in their hand.

Everyone is holding one phone with one hand. (Most likely)

Depending on what you want to imply, you can use the appropriate sentence.

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