Essential lesson #7: When referring to corporations and organizations, following the name, use ‘it’ as a second reference and ‘they’ for people. Another in a series of tips from the forthcoming ‘Of Is and By: How to be a better writer overnight.’
Confusing ‘it’ and ‘they’ causes a fundamental mistake that confuses the difference between written and spoken speech. It also leads to verb and tense confusion and is perhaps the number one beginning or student writer mistake, which often distinguishes a professional writer from an amateur. It should be easy to catch but somehow isn’t.
Many things said are grammatically incorrect and would be out of place in writing and yet don’t sound wrong in everyday speech. A good example of this is ‘between you and I.’ It should be ‘between you and me.’ The ‘between’ governs the ‘me.’ You wouldn’t say ‘between I and you.’ But it’s ok in speech; I no longer war against it as I once did, even though privately it still bothers me.
Not thinking of them as less educated, you might hear a friend say: “Apple brought out the new iPhoneX and they are raking in the sales.” However true, it’s not grammatically correct.
Apple is an ‘it.’ Organizations, corporations and institutions take “it” in second references. People, descriptions of groups and plurals are ‘they.’ Humber College launched its fall semester – not launched their fall semester. However, “Humber students began their courses.” Humber and Seneca Colleges issued their new curriculum.
Here are some examples:
Canoe restaurant is featured on the show, and their original award-winning chef, Anthony Walsh, will be preparing lunch. The table servers will be on their best behavior. Oliver & Bonacini will also be highlighting their many fine restaurants.
Canoe restaurant, featured on the show, will have its original award-winning chef, Anthony Walsh, preparing lunch.
Canoe is an ‘it.’ Servers are ‘they’ – their best behavior, as they are people. O&B operates many really good restaurants (Canoe is my favourite); it’s a plural and takes ‘their.’
One more time
- World-renowned Parisian bakery, Ladurée, will be launching their first Canadian location.
- World-renowned Parisian bakery, Ladurée, will be launching its first Canadian location.
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