Pronunciation Pronoun
  1. (the third-person plural) A group of people, animals, plants or objects previously mentioned. [since the 1200s]
    Fred and Jane? They just arrived.
    Dogs may bark if they want to be fed.
    Plants wilt if they are not watered.
    I have a car and a truck, but they are both broken.
    • 2010, Iguana Invasion!: Exotic Pets Gone Wild in Florida ISBN 1561644684, page 9:
      There is no reason to be scared of iguanas. They do not attack humans.
  2. (the third-person singular, sometimes proscribed) A single person, previously mentioned, especially if of unknown or non-binary gender, but not if previously named and identified as male or female. [since the 1300s]
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), imprinted at London: By Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981 ↗, Deuteronomy 17:5 ↗:
      Then shalt thou bring forth that man, or that woman (which haue committed that wicked thing) vnto thy gates, euen that man, or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones till they die.
    • 2008, Michelle Obama, quoted in Lisa Rogak, Michelle Obama in Her Own Words, New York, NY: PublicAffairs, 2009. ISBN 978 1 58648 762 1, page 18:
      One thing a nominee earns is the right to pick the vice president that they think will best reflect their vision of the country, and I am just glad I will have nothing to do with it.
    • 2014, Ivan E. Coyote, Rae Spoon, Gender Failure ISBN 1551525372
      The boycott, led by Elisha Lim, of a Toronto gay and lesbian newspaper after it refused to use their preferred pronoun ["they"], citing grammar considerations, inspired me.
    • 2015 April, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (mayor of Baltimore), commenting on the death of Freddie Gray:
      I'm angry that we're here again, that we have had to tell another mother that their child is dead.
  3. (indefinite pronoun, vague meaning) People; some people; people in general; someone, excluding the speaker.
    They say it’s a good place to live.
    They didn’t have computers in the old days.
    They should do something about this.
    They have a lot of snow in winter.
Translations Translations Translations Determiner
  1. (now, Southern England dialect or nonstandard) The, those. [from 14th c.]
    • 1878, Louis John Jennings, Field Paths and Green Lanes, quoting an old East Sussex man:
      "They rooks as you see [...] only coom a few year agoo."
    • 1883 Judy, or the London serio-comic journal, volume 33 (Harvard University) :
      Darn'd if they Cockney Chaps can zee there worn't nort but lie in him.
    • 1895, Under the Chilterns: A Story of English Village Life:
      page 21: "But you spile [spoil] they gals - they won't be for no good, they won't."
      page 30: "'Twas all about they rewks [rooks]," he sobbed.
      page 54: "mucking the place up with they weeds"
    • 1901, Gwendoline Keats (of Devon), Tales of Dunstáble Weir, page 55:
      "Bodies and souls," she cried, "if I didn't reckon to have hidden they boots safe from un in the stick-rick." "Off wi' they tight-wasted shoes o' yours, Martha."
  2. (US dialects, including, AAVE) Their. [from 19th c.]
    • 2016, Alan Moore, Jerusalem, Liveright 2016, p. 175:
      He guessed one of the well-off people living in these houses must have took a shine to Cody and decided how he'd look good stuck up on they roof.
  1. (US dialectal) There (especially as an expletive subject of be). [from 19th c.]
    • 1889, James Whitcomb Riley, Pipes o' Pan:
      They’s music in the twitter of the bluebird and the jay.
    • 2000, Janice Giles, Hill Man, ['t%20nothin%22&pg=PA58#v=onepage&q=%22they%20ain't%20nothin%22&f=false page 58]:
      They ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.
    • 2008, Christian Carvajal, Lightfall, ['t%20nothin%22&pg=PA82#v=onepage&q=%22they%20ain't%20nothin%22&f=false page 82]:
      But they ain’t nothin’ in there you didn’t already have.
    • 2010, Alessandro Portelli, They Say in Harlan County: An Oral History, page 207 ↗:
      Well, they’s a lot of ‘em didn’t survive, if you believe me.

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