Wednesday, September 19, 2012

To Each His Own vs. To Each Their Own

After I posted this morning about Commonly Botched Idioms: To Each His Own, I received an e-mail from Doug:
Hi Snarky! One of Honda Civic's ad campaigns also makes this mistake. As seen in this video, the tagline is 'To Each Their Own.'
 Quick rule:
  • 'Each' is singular, so the possessive pronoun must also be the singular 'his', rather than the plural 'their'. Therefore, the expression is 'to each his own'.


  1. Is this, perhaps, an example of using 'their' as a gender-neutral pronoun and therefore correct in this context?

  2. I'm surprised your post mentioned nothing of sexist language. If you want to get technical (and, based on the content of your blog, you do), it should be, "To each his or her own."

  3. The "quick rule" is wrong. Meghann Smith is correct. In this sentence, "their" is not used as a plural; it is used as a gender-neutral singular form. That is a perfectly acceptable usage.

    I love seeing linguistic prescriptivists slip up when they state their "rules".

    1. It's remarkable how other languages don't worry so much about being "gender neutral". Our linguistic tradition is using "his" in such an instance.
      Using "their" is incorrect, excepting the few who have more interest in being politically correct over grammatically correct. Others who opt for the "his or her" bit are grammatically correct but sound very contrived and cumbersome in speech and writing.

  4. There has been every possible stance and probabilities have been mentioned here which will further allow students to bring around all those possible details which they must needed to observe.

  5. Tomato tomato. His own her own their own. Who cares. Dorks.

  6. Oh Celeste, bless you, that cracked me up. I was reading this post with such committed interest and then got to your comment and spat out my coffee! Hilarious... I guess I'm a dork!

  7. Won't it depend on the gender of the speaker? Or will it depend on the gender of the person the idiom is being called upon upon.

    PS. Ignore my name. Think of it as ironical or polar opposite or just plain stupid.