Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Agreement of Pronoun and Antecedent By Kristen Harris

Before reading Chapter 10 in the Correct Writing book, if I was asked to define the agreement between a pronoun and antecedent I would not have been able to. Now I can recognize this agreement and I understand the differences between singular and plural pronouns and antecedents. A pronoun is a word that is used in place of a noun, if repeating that noun would sound awkward. The antecedent of a sentence is the noun that the pronoun is referring to. For example in the sentence “Shelly drove her car very fast down the highway,” Shelly is the antecedent and her is the pronoun referring to the antecedent. It would sound awkward to say “Shelly drove Shelly’s car very fast down the highway.”

The agreement between a pronoun and its antecedent must agree in person, number, and gender. There cannot be a singular pronoun (his) and a plural antecedent (cousins), as they do not agree in number. Sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate between plural and singular. The indefinite pronouns each, either, anyone, everyone, someone, ect are always singular, and when referring to them, their pronouns should always be singular. Collective nouns such as team and class, when acting as a unit are singular. If the members of these nouns are doing the action in the sentence, they become plural.

Another dilemma that arises when creating the agreement is that there is no third person singular pronoun that can refer to both male and female. In the past most authors would use he or his when referring to mankind. In today’s ever-growing politically correct world many are trying to change this. To avoid any problems it is best to change the pronoun so it does not choose one sex over the other. Instead use the pronouns we or our, or any other one that does not promote sexist ideas. If you would like to test your knowledge of the pronoun/antecedent agreement you can use this quiz.
or there is a great poster done by Rena and Jessica that will help you review pronouns and antecedents.

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