When using the interrogative pronoun, 'who', what would the possessive form be?

'Who checks X letterbox every day?'.

I feel it ought to be 'his' but some people I know claim it should be 'their', which to me seems to contradict the singular form of the verb 'check'.

'Who checks his letterbox every day?' is what I would say naturally. 'Who checks their letterbox every day?' sounds a bit off to me.

Looking on the internet doesn't really return anything useful, only the use of 'their' as a singular pronoun, which seems to be somewhat popular a topic.

Note, this is specifically regarding the interrogative pronoun; I understand the debate about his/her/their/ones in other circumstances but I want to know whether the same can apply to 'who' or 'whom'.


1 Answer 1


I think this is a semi-double-duplicate question.

"Who" does not mark for plural: Should I use who or whom when the subject is plural?

"Their" is commonly accepted gender-neutral singular.


I would like to expand and get clarity on this too - if you do want to express plural, which is marked as check (we check, they check) would you pluralize letterbox? Or do they all have the singular/plural option depending on context? Which of the following are correct?

"Who are they that check their letterboxes everyday?"

"Who check their letterboxes everyday?"

"Who check the letterboxes everyday?"

"Who checks their letterboxes everyday?"

"Who checks the letterbox everyday?"

  • I think the 4th and 5th are correct in that they treat 'who' as singular. However, the first also sounds right to me, with 'are'. I can say 'Who are they', but I don't think it would be right, or idiomatic, to say 'Who eat them?'
    – JDF
    May 1, 2016 at 8:22

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