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Let's take the sentence "Have they entered their password?", where we use "they" meaning "he/she", a third person of any or unknown gender. If we replace the pronoun "they" with a more specific noun, e.g. "the user" we'll also need to replace "Have" with "Has" — "Has the user entered the password?".

For some reason I'm thinking that there's a rule in English that say that pronouns can replace nouns without changing the structure of the sentence. Since using "they" as "he/she" is relatively new, does this mean that that old rule is no longer universal? Or is the sentence "Has they entered the password?" now grammatically correct?

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    Using they as a singular, gender-neutral third-person pronoun still uses plural syntax. Despite describing one person, it is still written as have they. – Jason Bassford May 8 '19 at 20:32
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    There's never been a rule in American English that pronouns replace nouns without changing the tense of the verb. My whole family is coming to Seattle for a reunion. They are staying ... And when you was substituted for thou, we didn't keep the 2nd person singular conjugation. – Peter Shor May 8 '19 at 20:44
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    No, using they in this way is extremely old. It's not new at all. – tchrist May 8 '19 at 22:01
  • Let's take the sentence "Have you entered your password?", where we use "you" meaning a person of unknown gender. If we replace the pronoun "you" with a more specific noun, e.g. "the user" we'll also need to replace "have" with "has" — "Has the user entered the password?" Does this mean that the sentence "Has you entered the password?" is now grammatically correct? – RegDwigнt Jun 9 '19 at 17:10
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According to the OED "they" can be a singular or plural third person pronoun. When used with a verb it usually takes the third person plural form. "They are" as opposed to "they is", "they run" as opposed to "they runs". If there is such a rule about pronouns, then "they" is an exception no matter what they says say.

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  • Upvote for the cross-out. – Barmar May 9 '19 at 0:31
  • Is you sure it works that way? :) – tchrist May 9 '19 at 5:38

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