STEP 1: DEFINITION
Pronoun reference and agreement refer to the replacement of nouns with pronouns. For example: Carla is taking her vacation in May. She is going to Hawaii. The pronouns her and she refer to Carla. Using pronouns helps writers avoid redundancy.
- their antecedents (the nouns they are replacing) must be clear: I moved all the furniture. It was heavy. (It clearly refers to the furniture.)
- they must agree in gender: Patricia is taking her cat to the vet.
- they must agree in number: Where are Mr. Park and his wife? They are in Spain.
Indefinite pronouns include each, every, everyone, everybody, someone, somebody, no one, nobody, anyone, anybody. They are singular, so they require singular pronouns. For example: Everyone has his or her opinions (not Everyone has their opinions).
Errors in pronoun reference occur when the reference is ambiguous, the antecedent is unclear, or the pronoun is incorrect in number or gender.
Incorrect: Lisa was standing by the window drinking a cup of tea when it broke.
Correct: Lisa was standing by the window drinking tea when
the cup broke.
Incorrect: The girls were selling cookies in front of it.
Correct: The girls were selling cookies in front of the store.
Incorrect: Everyone has their own cultural traditions.
Correct: Everyone has his or her own cultural traditions.
Incorrect: A secret activity is like a double-edged sword; they can help us or hurt us.
Correct: A secret activity is like a double-edged sword; it can help us or hurt us.
STEP 2: QUIA PRACTICE EXERCISES
STEP 3: LEARNING MORE
For more information on pronoun reference agreement, follow these links: