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Pronouns Brenham Writing Room Created by D. Herring
What is a Pronoun? A pronoun replaces a noun or other pronouns so you don’t have to repeat them. –Definite pronouns: I, me, she, he, they, we, us –Indefinite pronouns: every, each, some, none –See Little, Brown Handbook (LBH), pp. 268 & 309 for complete lists.
How do I use pronouns correctly? There are several important areas that you must understand in order to use pronouns correctly. I.Pronoun Choice II.Pronoun Consistency III.Pronoun Reference IV.Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement
I. Pronoun Choice It’s important to use the correct type of pronoun. The types of pronouns are –Subject pronouns –Object pronouns –Possessive pronouns –Reflexive pronouns
Types of Pronouns A subject pronoun serves as the subject of the verb. –I went to the store. –He walks to school every day. An object pronoun receives the action of the verb or is part of a prepositional phrase. –My mother gave me some money. –My mother gave some money to me.
Types of Pronouns A possessive pronoun shows ownership. –That car is his. –Ms. Clements is my teacher. A reflexive pronoun emphasizes that the subject does an action to himself or herself. –I have asked myself that question many times! –She hurt herself while jumping on the bed. –History often repeats itself.
Pronoun Trouble Spots There are 3 areas where you may run into trouble when trying to identify the correct pronoun to use. –Compound subject and objects –Comparisons –Sentences that need who or whom
Compound Subjects & Objects A compound subject has more than one subject joined by a conjunction (and, or, nor). A compound object has more than one object joined by a conjunction.
Compound Subjects & Objects To determine which pronoun to use in a compound construction, leave out the other part of the compound. –Daryl and (I, me) went to dinner last night. Think: I went to dinner last night. –Jack went to the movies with Sally and (she, her). Think: Jack went to the movies with her. –Jack went to the movies with Sally and (I, me). Think: Jack went to the movies with me.
Compound Subjects & Objects If a pronoun is part of a compound object in a prepositional phrase, use an object pronoun. –I will keep that information just between you and (I, me). –I wanted to go to the ballgame with (he and she, him and her).
Pronouns used in Comparisons You must use the correct pronoun in a comparison because using the incorrect pronoun could change the meaning of your sentence. –Jim likes baseball more than I. Means: Jim likes baseball more than I do. –Jim likes baseball more than me. Means: Jim likes baseball more than he likes me.
Pronouns used in Comparisons When deciding whether to use the subject or object pronoun in a comparison, add the implied words and say the sentence aloud. –I go to the movies more than (he, him). Think: I go to the movies more than he does. –They enjoy fishing more than (us, we). Think: They enjoy fishing more than we do.
Who vs. Whom Who is always a subject; whom is always an object. –Who delivered this package? –This package was delivered to whom? Tips for choosing the correct word: –If the pronoun performs the action, choose who; if it does not perform the action, choose whom. –In sentences other than questions, when the pronoun is followed by a verb, use who; when the pronoun is followed by a noun or pronoun, use whom. We wanted to know who starred in the movie. The person with whom I carpooled was my neighbor.
II. Pronoun Consistency Pronouns must be consistent in Person. Person is the point-of-view the writer uses. Pronouns may be in –First person (I, me, we) –Second person (you) –Third person (he, she, it, they)
Pronoun Consistency Remember that pronouns must stay consistent in person. –Incorrect: I wanted to ride the roller coaster, but the attendant said you had to be at least 6-feet tall. –Correct: I wanted to ride the roller coaster, but the attendant said I had to be at least 6-feet tall. –Incorrect: Many college students have access to a writing center where you can get tutoring. –Correct: Many college students have access to a writing center where they can get tutoring.
III. Pronoun Reference Your pronoun must refer clearly to an antecedent. There are 2 potential reference problems: –Vague pronoun reference –Repetitious pronoun reference
Vague Pronoun Reference Vague pronoun reference occurs when the pronoun could refer to more than one noun OR when the pronoun does not refer clearly to any particular person, place, or thing.
Vague Pronoun Reference –Michael told Jim he needed a better resume’. Who does the he refer to, Michael or Jim? –I put the glass on the shelf, even though it was dirty. What is dirty, the glass or the shelf? –When Tom got to the clinic, they told him it was closed. Who are they? –In the newspaper, it said that the crime rate dropped. Who or what is it?
Repetitious Pronoun Reference Repetitious pronoun reference occurs when the pronoun repeats a reference to a noun rather than replacing it. –The nurse at the clinic he told Tom that it was closed. –My English teacher, she said that I need to study more for my next exam.
IV. Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement What is Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement? –A pronoun must match its antecedent in number (singular or plural) and person (1 st, 2 nd, 3 rd ). What is an Antecedent? –An antecedent is the noun or pronoun to which the pronoun refers. Martha sold her car. The Smiths sold their car. The grass is losing its color.
Trouble Spots for P-A Agreement 1. Two or more antecedents joined by and are always plural, so the pronoun must be plural. –Jack and Jill lost their pail. –My mother and father are redecorating their house.
Trouble Spots for P-A Agreement 2. Each & Every are singular antecedents, even when followed by two things joined by and. –Each hand and foot leaves its distinctive print. –Each of the robbers left his fingerprints. –Each of the students will need his or her book for this assignment.
Trouble Spots for P-A Agreement 3. When joined by Correlative Conjunctions, the antecedent closest to the verb determines if the pronoun is singular or plural. –Either the microphone or the speakers need their cord repaired. –Either the speakers or the microphone needs its cord replaced. Correlative Conjunctions: either…or; neither…nor; not only…but.
Trouble Spots for P-A Agreement 4. The antecedent is an Indefinite Pronoun (see list in LBH, page 309) –Correct: Everyone in class hopes to do well on his or her exam. –Incorrect: Everyone in class hopes to do well on their exam. –Correct: Each student hopes to do well on his or her exam. –Incorrect: Each student hopes to do well on their exam.
Trouble Spots for P-A Agreement 5. The antecedent is a collective noun –Correct: The team won its game last weekend. –Incorrect: The team won their game last weekend. –Correct: The audience clapped its hands. –Incorrect: The audience clapped their hands.
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