2 Subject and PronounIf a subject is a singular noun, the pronouns used in the sentence that refer to this noun must be singular.On the same note, plural nouns should be paired with plural pronouns.Example:Incorrect: A character needs to address their flaws before they can redeem themselves at the end of the story.Correct but wordy: A character needs to address his or her flaws before he or she can redeem himself or herself at the end of the story.Correct: In order to achieve redemption, a character must address his or her flaws.
3 Pronouns and Antecedents Antecedent means something that comes before – think of antipasto in an Italian restaurant.Take this sentence: William had difficulty paying attention in class because he neglected getting enough sleep the night before.William is the antecedent for he.Now look at this sentence: Once Edna realized Sandra’s true intentions, she fled the scene.Who fled? It could be either Edna or Sandra.
4 Ambiguity Make sure all antecedents in a sentence are clear. Review this sentence: Once Edna realized Sandra’s true intentions, she fled the scene.Corrected sentence: Once Edna realized Sandra’s true intentions, Sandra fled the scene.Avoid using too many pronouns as this can also lead to ambiguity.Unclear pronouns may appear later in the paragraph so be careful!
5 Avoiding WordinessPlease note that the pronoun “one” can be substituted for his / her.Example: His or her writing can be effective if he or she proofreads his or her paper.Corrected sentence: One must proofread in order to produce effective writing.
6 Subject / Verb Agreement Your subject and verb should agree: singular nouns pair with singular verbs and vice versa. Be aware that most singular verbs end in “s” – the opposite of nouns.Examples –Shelly wants to visit the Florida Keys.They want to visit the Florida Keys.
7 Compound SubjectsThe subject closest to the verb determines whether the verb is singular or plural.Jim or Jack needs to finish the painting.Neither Jim nor Jack needs to finish the painting.Neither the students nor the teacher has a ruler.Neither the teacher nor the students have a ruler.The use of the conjunction “and” will make two singular subjects plural.Margaret and Anthony have plans this summer.
8 Indefinite PronounsAn indefinite pronoun can be singular or plural and refers to an unspecified noun.Singular: anybody, anyone, anything, each, either, everybody, everyone, everything, neither, nobody, no one, nothing, one, somebody, someone, somethingPlural: both, few, many, and severalSingular or plural: all, any, more, most, none, some
9 SingularTreat singular indefinite pronouns as you would singular pronouns.Anybody can pass his or her test if the proper studying procedures are followed.Everyone has to complete the form before he or she can interview for the job.Each student needs to address his or her essay today.
10 Plural Treat plural indefinite pronouns as you would plural pronouns. Many have suffered the effects of the plague.Few eat lunch in the cafeteria.Note that some indefinite pronouns are often tied to a noun for clarity (each person, few documents).
11 EitherFor some pronouns, you need to look at the noun they are paired with before you make a decision about the verb.All of the money is in the safe.All parties report to the auditorium.None of the candy is gone.None of the spectators were hurt.
12 Collective NounsCollective nouns identify a group (team, assembly, band, troop, etc.) Collective nouns are singular when referred to as a unit and are plural when referring to individual members or parts of the group.Usually, they’re singular unless paired with other nouns making them plural.The band has to meet out on the field to practice.The team runs different routes each day.All members of the assembly vote on Tuesday.
13 Numbers “a number” and “the number” have different rules. “a number” is plural and “the number” is singular.The number has increased.A number belong to the drama club.Fractions or percentagessingular when referring to a singular word and plural when referring to a plural wordTwelve percent of the people have to apply.
14 Numbers Cont.Expressions of amount like a measurement (three thousand dollars, five days, etc.)if the expression is thought of as a unit, it’s singular, and if it’s thought of as separate parts, it’s plural.Five hundred days is a long time to wait.One thousand dollars are scattered on the sidewalk.