Neither Nancy nor Loma remembered to bring _______ camera ]

  • Her
  • Their
  • Them
  • Neither

In this questions option C "their" was given correct answer but I need an explanation to it as I read the rule that the pair "Neither + nor" agrees with the nearest subject.

  • Why not a short-cut like "Neither Nancy nor Loma remembered to bring own camera". I know I can be wrong.
    – Ram Pillai
    Jan 17 '21 at 16:13
  • 3
    @RamPillai: that's ungrammatical. You have to specify their own camera or her own camera, leaving you with the same problem you had before. Jan 17 '21 at 16:25
  • 1
    While this may, in some way, be a duplicate, the answers offered to the other question cannot be readily adapted to this one. In answering this question, one needs to avoid the ambiguities as to whether we are dealing with one camera or two, and, if it's only one, to whom it belongs. Such ambiguities are less likely to arise in dealing with the example that the other question is about.
    – jsw29
    Jan 17 '21 at 17:07

The answer their is definitely correct (no matter what anybody else tells you). But the answer her is also correct.

To see why their is correct, amd maybe why it's preferable, consider the related sentence:

Neither Jane nor John remembered to bring ______ camera.

You can't use either his or her in this sentence — if you use his, you're specifying that the camera was John's and if you use her, you're specifying that it was Jane's. You could use his or her, or maybe her or his, but their is much better.

In the original sentence, you can also use her because both of the subjects are female.

  • 2
    But doesn't their go against the age-old rule of using a singular pronoun with neither...nor? How is it definitely correct @Peter Shor?
    – user405662
    Jan 17 '21 at 16:45
  • 1
    @user405662 it is neither old nor a rule. "Their" can also be singular. This has been the case in English since, I believe, the 15th century.
    – Greybeard
    Jan 17 '21 at 17:02
  • Ok thank you, @Greybeard. And it's grammatical too?
    – user405662
    Jan 17 '21 at 17:11
  • 1
    Their would be understood by most people to strongly imply that there is only one camera which the two people own together, which does not seem to be what is intended.
    – jsw29
    Jan 17 '21 at 17:14
  • 2
    @user405662 Indeed it is. It is used when the sex of the subject is unknown or unimportant: "Some person has left their 'phone on the table." or "Every child wore their coat." (I have found the earliest record: 1382 Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) Eche on in þer craft ys wijs [tr. Each one, in their trade, is skilled.]) They and them are used in the same way.
    – Greybeard
    Jan 17 '21 at 17:22

If it is unspecified whose camera it is, then use Their. This could mean that both girls own a camera and neither brought one. If you want to emphasize or specify in the context in a preceding or following sentence that it was perhaps one girl's in particular, then use Her.

  • I agree that both are acceptable here, but in the previous thread with this question, a lot of research was provided, partly supporting this view. Jan 17 '21 at 16:20

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