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Published byChristiana Baldwin Modified over 7 years ago
The Art of Agreement: Correct Pronoun-Antecedent Pairing
Pronoun antecedent agreement is a small yet vital part of good writing. To communicate their ideas clearly, you must first master some basic grammar rules, such as choosing the antecedent that correctly matches the pronoun they used. Not doing so could result in a loss of meaning g in the essay, thereby undercutting the content of the writing itself. The purpose of this lesson is to provide practice tat will enable student s to know how to pair pronouns and antecedents. Today we’re going to talk about pronouns that don't clearly match up with the nouns they are supposed to replace. Readers become unhappy when they have to guess what noun a writer is talking about, or readers may even chuckle if a pronoun seems to match up with the wrong noun.
1 Pronouns & Antecedents
Pronouns are words that substitute for nouns. President Lincoln delivered Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in 1863. President Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address in 1863. The pronoun his refers back to President Lincoln. President Lincoln is the ANTECEDENT for the pronoun his.
2 Pronouns & Antecedents
An antecedent is the word, phrase, or clause to which a pronoun refers, (ante = “before”) The can of lima beans sits on its shelf. The pronoun must agree with its antecedent in number 1. The can of lima beans sits on its shelf. The can (singular) of lima beans sits on its (singular) shelf. Ante means before and not to be confused with anti meaning against. In Spanish how do you say before? Latin based.
Identify the pronouns and antecedents:
3 Pronoun Antecedent Identify the pronouns and antecedents: 2. Jane lost a glove and she can't find it. Jane = she glove = it Antecedent Pronoun Antecedent Pronoun
4 Pronoun Types: An Overview
Subject pronouns: I, you, he, she, it, we, they Object pronouns: me, you, him her, it, us, them Possessive pronouns: my (mine), you (yours), his, her (hers), it (its), our (ours) their (theirs) Indefinite pronouns: another, anybody, anyone, anything, each, everybody, either, neither, no one, somebody, one
5 Indefinite Pronouns as Antecedents
3. Each of the clerks does a good deal of work around (their / his or her) office. 3. Each of the clerks does a good deal of work around his or her office. Rule: Singular indefinite pronoun antecedents take singular pronouns. Singular: each, either, neither, one, no one, nobody, nothing, anyone, anybody, anything, someone, somebody, something, everyone, everybody, everything.
6 Indefinite Pronouns as Antecedents
4. Both do a good job in (their / his or her) office. 4. Both do a good job in their office. Rule: Plural indefinite pronoun antecedents require plural pronouns. Plural: several, few, both, many
7 Indefinite Pronouns as Antecedents
5. Some of the sugar fell out of (its / their) bag. 5. Some of the sugar fell out of its bag. = Sugar is an uncountable noun and requires a singular pronoun.
8 Indefinite Pronouns as Antecedents
6. Some of the marbles fell out of (its / their) bag. 6. Some of the marbles fell out of their bag. = Marbles are countable and require a plural pronoun. Some indefinite pronouns modified by a prepositional phrase may be either singular or plural (some, any, none, all, most)
9 Compound Subjects joined by and
7. Jones and Smith made (his and her / their) presentation. 7. Jones and Smith made their presentation. Rule: Compound subjects joined by and always take a plural pronoun.
10 Compound Subjects Joined by or/nor
8. Neither the director nor the actors did (his or her / their) jobs. 9. Neither the actors nor the director did (his or her / their) jobs. 8. Neither the director nor the actors did their jobs. 9. Neither the actors nor the director did his or her jobs. Rule: With compound subjects joined by or/nor the pronoun agrees with the antecedent closer to the pronoun. In example #1 the plural antecedent closer to the pronoun creates a smoother sentence than example #2, which forces the use of the singular “his or her”.
10. The jury read (its / their) verdict.
11 Collective Nouns 10. The jury read (its / their) verdict. 11. The jury members gave (its / their) individual opinions. 10. The jury read its verdict. 11. The jury members gave their individual opinions. Rule: Collective nouns (group, jury, crowd, team, etc.) may be singular or plural depending on meaning. In example #1 the jury is acting as one unit, so it uses a singular pronoun. In example #2 the jury members are acting as twelve individuals.
11 Gender 12. If a person wants to succeed in corporate life, (he / she / he or she / they) has to know the rules of the game. 12. If a person wants to succeed in corporate life, he or she has to know the rules of the game. Rule: Person is singular and needs a singular pronoun, but person is also gender neural. To avoid using sexist language when referring to an antecedent that can include either males or females, use his or her.
12 Gender Rule: To make the sentence sound smoother, make the entire sentence plural: Instead of writing: If a person wants to succeed in corporate life, he or she has to know the rules of the game. If people want to succeed in corporate life, they have to know the rules of the game.
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