can we use adolescent and they together


Ask any adolescent, they will tell, “My friends, family or parents are perturbed about me, as most of the time they find me hooked to the computer or the internet or the phone. 

asked Jan 26 '13 at 03:34 Meenu New member

2 answers


No, any adolescent is singular and they is plural.


While you may be trying to avoid a gender-specific pronoun -- Ask any adolescent and she will tell you -- or the awkward he and she -- Ask any adolescent and he or she will tell you -- there are better ways than employing they as a singular pronoun.


For instance, Ask any adolescent and you will be told, "My friends, family or parents are perturbed with me as most of the time they find me hooked to the computer or the internet or the phone."

link comment answered Jan 26 '13 at 04:40 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

(Substantially revised, due to the say/tell, direct/indirect speech issue dawning on me after my original post):


Most experts on here consider 'the singular they' to be ungrammatical, but I disagree. It is a matter of some debate, and without starting it all up again, I would second Jeff's suggestion of rewording your sentence to avoid the construction entirely. I don't particularly care for the passive clause that Jeff suggests, and I'd suggest instead Any adolescent will say, "My friends....


Notice that I didn't suggest Any adolescent will tell you, "My friends....  That would be incorrect.  We don't use the verb tell to introduce direct speech, and this is a mistake in your sentence.  (Also, tell in this meaning is always transitive, so the correct phrase would be tell you.)


Finally, indirect speech would be much better for your sentence, because, while it may be true that any teenager would say something along those lines, they certainly would not use the exact same words to convey it, which is the unusual implication of using direct speech here.  (Also, your sentence is missing a concluding quotation mark at the end.)  The one unfortunate result of converting the direct speech into indirect speech is that the 'any-followed-by-single-or-plural-pronoun' issue rears its ugly head again. However, I have substantially reworded your sentence to obviate the need for that construction, and also to make it more concise.  (For one example, I removed family as redundant alongside parents, and removed friends because I highly doubt that teenagers' friends, who would be teenagers themselves, fret too much about this issue!)


Putting all of this together, here is my suggested revision:  Most parents worry about how much time their teenagers spend online, texting or chatting on the phone.


I downgraded the "all parents" implication of your sentence to "most parents" but if you want, you can use All parents worry... to make it that much stronger.

link comment edited Jan 26 '13 at 06:47 Shawn Mooney Expert

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