Correct the Errors: • Over a third of the tomato plants died because we forgot to water it. • Each finalist wil have to pay their own airfare and other expenses. • Not one of the boys in that family has to be reminded to make their bed in the mornings. • Every member of the graduating class should congratulate themselves for having passed al of their final exams. What’s the common error in these sentences?
What do you need to understand about pronoun-antecedent agreement errors? • What’s a pronoun?• What’s an antecedent?• What’s a pronoun-antecedent agreement error?
What’s a Pronoun? • A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun or other pronoun. – It can take the place of a subject word. • (I, you, he, she, it, we, they) – It can take the place of an object word. • (me, you, him, her, it, us, them) – It can take the place of a possessive word. • (my, mine, your, yours, his, hers, its, our, ours, their, theirs)
If you like sil y videos, here are a couple defining pronouns. Sopronouns Rufus Xavier Sarsaparil a Pronouns
What’s an antecedent? • The word that the pronoun replaces. – Hermione Granger threw her wand onto the floor • (“her” renames “Hermione Granger”). – When Ron Weasley saw the wand drop, he picked it up and handed it to her. • (“it” renames the “wand”) – Then Ron and Hermione went to their Defense Against the Dark Arts class. • (“their” renames “Ron and Hermione”)
So what is pronoun- antecedent disagreement? • It’s not this. . . (a sil y video that you can skip if you want to) Pronoun Disagreement Disclaimer: Strange Violence
Basical y, it’s this: • Al pronouns and their antecedents need to agree in person and number.
Agree in Person – I hate to proofread my paper because proofreading is such a boring thing for you to do. • (disagreement in person–first person antecedent “I”, second person pronoun “you”) – "Why should I study literature? You don’t get anything out of it." • (disagreement in number—I shouldn’t study it because “you” don’t get anything out of it?
Agree in Number • Singular antecedents get singular pronouns. – The boy tossed his hat on the table. • Plural antecedents get plural pronouns. – The boys tossed their hats on the table.
You’ll general y run into problems in two cases: • When the antecedent is an indefinite pronoun and • When the antecedent is a singular noun that could refer to a man or a woman.
Indefinite Pronouns: They’re usual y singular Another Anybody Anyone Anything Each Either Everybody Everyone Everything Little Much Neither Nobody Someone No one Nothing One Other Somebody Something
Except when they’re plural Both Few Many Others Several
Or when they’re singular or plural, depending on context Al Any More Al of the gas is gone. Any of the jewelry is yours for More of the plot is revealed in the taking. Al of the kids are gone. act three. Any of my cousins are right for (“Al ” refers to “gas” in the More of our plans are going the part first sentence and “kids” in the towards breaking him out of second) (“Any” refers to “jewelry” in jail.the first sentence and (“More” refers to “plot” in the “cousins” in the second) first sentence and “plans” in the second). Most None Some Most of the cake was gone None of the material was Some of the fault was the when I got home. covered in the test review. teacher’s for being But most of the cookies were None of the students were disorganized. stil there. happy about that. Some of the students were so (“Most” refers to “cake” in the (“None” refers to “material in angry they complained to her first sentence and “cookies” in the first sentence and boss. the second) “students” in the second) (“Some” refers to “fault” in the first sentence and “students” in the second)
Singular Nouns that Can Refer to a Man or a Woman. • A person should be able to make up their own mind about prayer in schools. • A teacher should show their students love and compassion. • Often, a doctor wil leave their patients waiting for a ridiculously long time.
General y, these errors occur • because the writer is trying to avoid sexism. • When you don’t know if the antecedent is male or female, it seems logical to use the pronoun “they.”
When you can, just make the antecedent plural • A person should be able to make up their own mind about prayer in schools (incorrect). – People should be able to make up their own mind about prayer in schools (correct). • A teacher should show their students love and compassion (incorrect). – Teachers should show their students love and compassion (correct). • Often, a doctor wil leave their patients waiting for a ridiculously long time (incorrect). – Often, doctors wil leave their patients waiting for a ridiculously long time (correct).
General Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement Rules • Compound antecedents are usual y plural; – Joey and Melissa think their kids are bril iant. • If two antecedents are joined by either/or, neither/nor, the pronoun agrees with the antecedent closest to it; – Either Michael or his friends wil bring their video games to the party. – Either his friends or Michael wil bring his video games to the party. (This sentence is correct, but sounds il ogical. Word the sentence like the first example rather than the second). • The pronoun agrees with the antecedent, not the object of the prepositional phrase; – Each of the dogs needs its own crate.
General Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement Rules • Collective noun can be either singular or plural, depending on the context. – The jury took only two hours to reach its verdict. (Emphasizes the singularity of the jury) – The jury took only two hours to reach their verdict. (Emphasizes the jury as a group of individuals) • Avoid sexism – Not “A doctor should listen careful y to his patients.” – But rather (1) making the pronoun and its antecedent plural, or (2) reword the sentence. • Doctors should listen careful y to their patients. • Doctors should listen careful y to patients.
Vague Pronoun Reference • "Mom wasn’t sure if Jane had her make-up," – it is unclear if "her" refers to Mom or Jane. Whose make up is it? • “Mom wasn’t sure if Jane had brought Mom’s make up.” • “Mom wasn’t sure if Jane had brought Jane’s make up.” OR • "Had Jane brought her make up?" Mom wondered. • Mom thought, "Has Jane brought my make up?"
Other Resources • Pronoun reference: explains pronouns using a student’s different learning styles: • Pronoun-Agreement Exercise• Pronoun-Agreement Exercise• Pronoun-Antecedent Rules (RTF)