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I am still confused about how to use the word everyone. I have this sentence on a test:

  1. Everyone wants to do their part.
  2. Everyone wants to do his part.
  3. Everyone wants to do our part.

I think the answer is version with their.

marked as duplicate by Jason Bassford, Robusto, tchrist Oct 20 '18 at 22:31

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  • What about her, its, your, or my? The question can't be answered without more information. If there isn't more information, then the question is invalid. – Jason Bassford Oct 20 '18 at 20:46
  • The problem that we cannot solve is that your test is not designed to teach you to produce "the right answer". It simply demands that you produce a single answer that matches what the designer of the test wanted you to say. Language is not something that often admits just one right answer, especially without further context, and this terrible test question is certainly open to more than one possible answer of varying suitability and acceptability depending on the context and register. Most people say their, and the OED give citations for this both ancient and modern—but Victorians protest. – tchrist Oct 20 '18 at 23:56
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Your test is unfair, because there is no single answer that everyone would agree upon.

Everybody, along with everyone, traditionally uses a singular pronoun of reference: everybody must sign his own name. Because the use of his in this context is now perceived as sexist by some, a second option became popular: everybody must sign his or her own name. But his or her is often awkward, and many feel that the plural simply makes more sense: everybody must sign their own name. Although this violates what many consider standard, it is in fact standard in British English and increasingly so in US English. In some sentences, only they makes grammatical sense: everybody agreed to convict the defendant, and they voted unanimously.
(New Oxford American Dictionary)

  • Everybody on the girl’s softball team had her own favorite batting strategy. – tchrist Oct 20 '18 at 22:38
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The words everyone and everybody aren't about a specific person, so the (also gender-specific) his part is off. But the phrase is general, so our part is also not right.

I would say

Everyone wants to do their part.

because it is common to use their in the singular and plural, just as you and your are used in both singular and plural.

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"our" is definitely wrong, as that is first person, and "everyone" is third person. Some might argue for "his", as each individual person is singular, but "their" has the advantage of being gender neutral. If you want to be precise and say that there is a set of people such that, given any person in that set, that person does the part of that person, rather than saying that each person does the part of the set as a whole, then you could say "his or her".

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