Dear teachers,

Would you please correct my answers ?

Supply the appropriate preposition:

It never ceases to amaze me how little notice some people take 1 OF rules in public places. When I was a child, it would never have occurred to me not to comply 2 WITH the rules. If someone smoked in defiance of a ‘No Smoking’ sign on a train, they would rapidly be reminded 3 OF their transgression by several irate passengers, who would refer the errant smoker 4 TO the sign in no uncertain terms. What’s more, the person would normally apologize 5 FOR indiscretion, and would certainly refrain 6 FROM repeating his anti-social behaviour.

Many thanks,
10/10, Hela! (Well, 6/6, anyway.)

You need something between FOR and DISCRETION, though – 'his or her', perhaps.

Should I say "a person should normally apologise for THEIR indiscretion" ?

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Hello Hela

This is one of those situations where you can't win. The possibilities:

1. What’s more, the person would normally apologize for their indiscretion.

This would be said (and accepted) by most people, since 'their' is now generally used in place of 'his or her'; but some would object to 'their' on the grounds that it's plural, whereas 'the person' is singular. Unfortunately those who object might well include the people who mark exams, conduct interviews, etc.

2. What’s more, the person would normally apologize for his or her indiscretion.

This is grammatically irreproachable, but a little clumsy. An unattractive variant is 'his/her'.

3. What’s more, the person would normally apologize for his indiscretion.

This is what people used to say; but some now regard it as discriminatory.

4. What’s more, the person would normally apologize for her indiscretion.

Sometimes people use 'her' for 'his or her', to surprise the reader. It's a recent development, and is intended as an ironic version of #3, on the grounds that defaulting to 'her' is as reasonable as defaulting to 'his'.

5. What’s more, the person would normally apologize for any/the indiscretion.

This evades the problem, but would sound a little 'stylised' to some people.

I myself use 'their' in most situations, 'his' if I'm writing to please myself, and 'his or her' in formal documents.

In this case, the 'what's' already suggests a slightly less formal context, so #1 would be fine.

I hope that wasn't too confusing...

Oops - just remembered that 'his' is used later in the sentence! So 'his indiscretion' would be fine.

But then, 'their' is used earlier in the passage...

I'd change them all to 'his' anyway. Males are the usual culprits, in this situation.

when i was a child i didnt use to smoke cigererate because i believed in that it is a dangerous for my health as well as the other people around me.so far,all my parents didnt smoke ,but friend of mine used to smoke to much ,so i gave alot of advice to him ,althought he didnt give it up .
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Dear MrP,

I like the "apologize for ANY / THE indiscretion" though.

See you.