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Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Wednesday, March 3, 2021 6:43:29 AM

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Either Sam or Doris has left her/their hat behind, because there's only one in the back of the car.

Would you say "her hat" or "their hat" or maybe "their hats"?
Wilmar (USA) 1M
Posted: Wednesday, March 3, 2021 7:28:22 AM

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Location: Vinton, Iowa, United States
Either Sam or Doris left their hat behind -- it's in the back seat.


But, we're having this conversation and we already know who had been in the car, and so would not bother to identify them by name for this purpose. More likely, I would say, "One of them left their hat in the back seat." Well, this is true if we're having the conversation right away (very soon after exiting the car).
If it were the next day, then I might say, "Either Sam or Doris left their hat in the back seat (yesterday)."
Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Wednesday, March 3, 2021 7:44:18 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/21/2015
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"Either Sam or Doris left their hat in the back seat (yesterday)."

Doesn't it sound like they had a joint-hat?
thar
Posted: Wednesday, March 3, 2021 9:01:08 AM

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Joined: 7/8/2010
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No, logically two people don't share a hat!


In general use 'their' as the singular pronoun, but it means only one person left their hat.

If it were something logically shared
Either Sam or Doris left their car running
then that may mean they share a car. And the 'their' is plural.
But it can also mean they had a car each, and one of them left their car running.
'
Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Wednesday, March 10, 2021 10:30:03 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/21/2015
Posts: 1,252
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What if the two were men.

Either Jack or John left his hat.
or
Either Jack or John left their hat.
??


FounDit
Posted: Wednesday, March 10, 2021 10:34:20 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 15,647
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Ivan Fadeev wrote:
What if the two were men.

Either Jack or John left his hat.
or
Either Jack or John left their hat.
??

Then I would say "his", but "their" works also because it belongs to one of them.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, March 10, 2021 7:07:28 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
And if Sam were a girl or woman (Samantha) I'd say "Either Sam or Doris has left her hat behind, because there's only one in the back of the car."

One would normally (I think) be able to tell if it was a man's or woman's hat, so it's not a very likely comment. But if, for example, Samuel and Doris were both Petty Officers on the same ship, their hats may be almost identical.
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