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Is it correct to use “their” instead of “his or her”?

Plural versus singular:

Anyone can learn to dance if they want to.

Anyone can learn to dance if he or she wants to.

Resources online tell me that anyone is a singular indefinite pronoun. Then why is it sometimes acceptable to use the plural 'they' with 'anyone' in some cases? Does it substitute and replace 'he/she'?

note: this previous posts also says anyone is [singular]: "Anyone has" or "anyone have" seen them?

  • With regards to the note, anyone is singular, but so is they when used with it—hence the term "singular they"
    – nohat
    May 24, 2011 at 5:44

1 Answer 1


Singular They:

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage remarks that “They, their, them have been used continuously in singular reference for about six centuries, and have been disparaged in such use for about two centuries. Now the influence of social forces is making their use even more attractive.”

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