their GENERIC

their GENERIC

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The use of ‘their’ is confusing to give level to, because there is differing information between the English Vocabulary and Grammar Profiles, and secondly the uses are hard to locate in corpora automatically.

At B2, Point 58 in the category of DETERMINERS & possessive is defined as:

GENERIC ‘THEIR’ before nouns to refer to a generic body or group of people expressed as a singular subject

Everyone has their own opinion. …everyone has their preference…

In the EGP, Point 50, B1 examples:

They were having the time of their lives.  They filmed the artists and their work. 

However, in the EVP ‘their’ is:

 

So formally we can investigate for indefinite pronouns to the left of ‘their’.  But first, we can check which _pn1 might work.

1 ONE 10647525

2 SOMETHING 7038440

3 EVERYTHING 3661675

4 SOMEONE 3447852

5 ANYTHING 3347793

6 EVERYONE 3007402

When we do a collocate search up to 4 to the right, every example was together on iWeb.

Does that qualify as a singular subject?

 

7 NOTHING 2966176

8 ANYONE 2741077
9 NO 881566

10 EVERYBODY 476935

11 NOBODY 451477
12 SOMEBODY 350684
13 ANYBODY 307399
14 NO-ONE 54132
15 SOME 32764

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B1
1 THEIR LIVES 325158
2 THEIR WAY 262764
3 THEIR CHILDREN 216153
4 THEIR WORK 213183
5 THEIR FAMILIES 209014
6 THEIR HOME 163269
7 THEIR TIME 157752
8 THEIR BUSINESS 143531
9 THEIR PARENTS 129414
10 THEIR WEBSITE 119786
11 THEIR HANDS 116015
12 THEIR PRODUCTS 110206
13 THEIR CUSTOMERS 109387
14 THEIR LIFE 107510
15 THEIR HOMES 105262
16 THEIR ABILITY 100775
17 THEIR FAMILY 86843
18 THEIR NAME 80335
19 THEIR NEEDS 80029
20 THEIR MONEY 79407
21 THEIR JOB 78021
22 THEIR FRIENDS 76721
23 THEIR HEADS 76543
24 THEIR EYES 73807
25 THEIR CHILD 71549
26 THEIR JOBS 69806
27 THEIR BODIES 67252
28 THEIR HEALTH 67136
29 THEIR CLIENTS 65803
30 THEIR KIDS 63521

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