Meaning of “they” in the English Dictionary

british dictionary

"they" in British English

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theypronoun

uk /ðeɪ/ us /ðeɪ/

A1 used as the subject of a verb to refer to people, animals, or things already mentioned or, more generally, to a group of people not clearly described:

I've known the Browns for a long time. They're very nice people.
Where are my glasses? They were on the table a minute ago.
They (= people who know) say things will be better in the new year.

B1 used to avoid saying "he or she":

"There's someone on the phone for you." "What do they want?"

More examples

  • My parents live down in Florida, but they come up to Chicago every summer.
  • "Thank you for the flowers." "It's all right. I thought they might cheer you up."
  • An ambulance crew was called to his home, but he was dead by the time they arrived.
  • Most children in the UK remain in full-time education until they are at least 16 years old.
  • Oil and water don't mix. Even if you shake them together they separate into two layers.

Grammar

(Definition of “they” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"they" in American English

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theypronoun [ pl ]

us /ðeɪ/

the things or people being spoken about, who have already been mentioned:

Where are my glasses? They were on the table a minute ago.
They (= People who know) say we’re going to get some rain.

They is also used to refer to a person whose sex is not known:

"There is someone on the phone for you." "What do they want?"

(Definition of “they” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)