chapter  II
Ancient and Modern Languages,
Pages 22

But in many cases these two expedients will be found not to answer the purpose. If you try to put the phrase, " Does anybody prevent you ? " in another way, beginning with " Nobody prevents you," and then adding the interrogatory formula, you will perceive that " does he " is too definite, and " does he or s h e " too clumsy ; and you will therefore say (as

Thackeray does, Pendennis, ii., 260), "Nobody prevents you, do they ? " although, of course, nobody is of the singular number and ought to be represented by a singular pronoun. In the same manner Shakespeare writes (Lucr., 125) : "Everybody to rest themselves betake". The substitution of the plural for the singular is not wholly illogical ; for everybody is much the same thing as " all men," and nobody is the negation of "al l m e n " ; but the phenomenon is extended to cases where this explanation will not hold good. As this curious use of the plural pronoun to supply the missing genderless singular is not mentioned in English grammars, as far as I know, I subjoin the examples I have found of i t :—

Fielding, Tom Jones, ii,, 160,'''^ every one in the house were in their b e d s " | ibid., ii., 184, " she never willingly suffered any one to depart from her house without inquiring into their names, family, and fortunes " | ibid., ii., 248, '•' everybody {&\\ a-laughing, as how could they help i t ? " | ibid./lii., 66, " t he two parties proceeded three full miles together before any one offered again to open their mouths "

I G. Eliot, Mill, i., 12, "if everybody was what they should b e " | ibid., i., 75, " i t was not everybody who could afford to cry so much about their neighbours" [ ibid., i., 310, " I never refuse to help anybody, if they've a mind to do themselves justice " | ibid., ii., 304, " I shouldn't like to punish any one, even if

they'd done: me wrong" | Thackeray, Vanity Fair, 338, " a person can't help their birth "

I Ruskin, Selections, i. 305, " all that can possibly be done for any one who wants ears of wheat is to show them where to find grains of wheat, and how to sow them " | Anstey, Vice Versa, 174, " n o one but children invited, and everybody to do exactly what they l i ke" | Mrs. H. Ward, David Grieve, i., 325, " ' Somebody will see us !' she cried in a fever, ' and tell father.' ' Not they; I'll keep a look-out . '" | Cambridge Trifles, 79, " Everybody will forget themselves " I Sketchley, Cleop. Needle, 27, " as if it was easy for any one to find their own needle " | Sweet, Elementarbuch, 40, " I don't know what 's become of my umbrella. Some one must have taken it by mistake, instead o{ their own " | Murray, Dial. South. Scotl., 192, " wad a buodie hurt thersel, yf they faell owre theare ? "