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I am from Denmark and my English teacher insists on 'they' being grammatically incorrect when it is used in a singular sense (their hand reached...) No matter what I tell her she is convinced it's incorrect. Are there any "official" rules regarding this matter?

marked as duplicate by Marv Mills, tchrist, Andrew Leach Sep 9 '15 at 15:00

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  • Your English teacher is correct. To speak "good English" you should do what she says. Educated English-speakers do what she says. You will hear "they" used incorrectly by English speakers very often, but it's not right. – SAH Sep 9 '15 at 16:42

There is a debate about this, which can be described as "prescriptivism" (how language should be used) and "descriptivism" (how it is actually used). It seems you and your teacher are in different camps!

For more on the two schools of thought, see http://www.ling.upenn.edu/courses/ling001/prescription.html

For more in support of your position, see https://motivatedgrammar.wordpress.com/2009/09/10/singular-they-and-the-many-reasons-why-its-correct/ and http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/he-or-she-versus-they

But in the end, she will be grading your papers!

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