Tag question that refers back to Nobody

English grammar questions, answered by Alan

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ksdchan
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Tag question that refers back to Nobody

Post by ksdchan » Sat Mar 10, 2018 10:16 am

Which of the following sentence is correct if I add a tag question to the sentence "Nobody likes waiting for a bus in the rain"?

1) Nobody likes waiting for a bus in the rain, do they? (My textbook answer key, I am not sure if it is right.)
2) Nobody likes waiting for a bus in the rain, doesn't he?

From my view, the tag question need to negate the main verb. Why does answer key 1) keep "do", 2) change Nobody to they?
It does not make sense that "They" refers back the sentence subject "Nobody".

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Alan
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Re: Tag question that refers back to Nobody

Post by Alan » Wed Mar 14, 2018 5:39 am

Your answer key is quite correct in terms of contemporary usage.

1. 'They' (or related forms, 'them' etc.) is widely used for antecedents of indeterminate gender, generally replacing more traditional/formal 'he or she'.

2. Tag questions typically differ in polarity from the foregoing clause: here 'nobody' makes the main clause negative, hence the positive tag 'do they'.

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