Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement

Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement


A pronoun is a word used to stand for (or take the place of) a
noun.

A word can refer to an earlier noun or pronoun in the sentence.

       
Example:

                 

We
do not talk or write this way.  Automatically, we replace the noun Lincoln’s
with a pronoun.  More naturally, we say

                   

The
pronoun his refers back to President Lincoln
President Lincoln is the ANTECEDENT for the pronoun
his
.
 


An
antecedent is a word for which a pronoun stands.  (ante =
“before”)

The
pronoun must agree with its antecedent in number.

Rule:
A singular pronoun must replace a singular noun; a plural pronoun must replace
a plural noun.

Thus,
the mechanics of the sentence above look like this:

               

        

Here are nine pronoun-antecedent agreement
rules.  These rules are related to the rules found in subject-verb
agreement.

1. 
A phrase or
clause between the
subject and verb
does not change the number of the antecedent.

           
Example:

                   



2. 

Indefinite pronouns as antecedents

  • Singular indefinite pronoun antecedents take singular pronoun
    referents.
      

         

            Example:

                   

  • Plural indefinite
    pronoun antecedents require plural referents.

               
PLURAL: 
several, few, both, many

           
Example:

                   

  • Some indefinite pronouns that are modified by a
    prepositional phrase may be either singular or plural. 

          EITHER
SINGULAR OR PLURAL:  some, any, none, all,
most

             

              
Examples:

                     
 

                       
Sugar is uncountable; therefore, the sentence has a singular referent
pronoun.

                        

                       

                       
Jewelry is uncountable; therefore, the sentence has a singular referent
pronoun.

                

             

               
Examples:

                          

                       
Marbles are countable; therefore, the sentence has a plural referent
pronoun.

                

                           

                       
Jewels are countable; therefore, the sentence has a plural referent
pronoun.


3. 

Compound subjects joined by
and
always take a plural referent.

                   
Example:

                        

4.  With compound
subjects joined by
or/nor, the
referent pronoun agrees with the antecedent closer to the pronoun.

                   
Example #1 (plural antecedent closer to pronoun):

                         

                   
Example #2 (singular antecedent closer to pronoun):

                         

   
Note: 
Example #1, with the plural antecedent closer to the pronoun, creates a smoother
sentence
              
than example #2, which forces the use of the singular “his or her.”  


5. 
Collective Nouns
 (group,
jury, crowd, team, etc.) may be singular or plural, depending on meaning.    

                     
   

               
In this example, the jury is acting as one unit; therefore, the referent pronoun
is singular.

                    

                          

               
In
this example, the jury members are acting as twelve individuals; therefore, the
referent

                
pronoun is plural.

            

                             

                 
In
this example, the jury members are acting as twelve individuals; therefore, the
referent

                 
pronoun is plural.

      

              

6. 
Titles of single entities.
(books, organizations, countries, etc.) take a singular referent.

       
EXAMPLES:

          
                  

                               

7. 
Plural form subjects with a singular
meaning
take a singular referent.  (news,
measles, mumps, physics, etc
)

       
EXAMPLE:  

                           



8. 
Every or Many
a
  before a noun or a series of nouns requires a singular
referent.

           
EXAMPLES:

                           

                           



9. 
The
number of   vs 
A
number of
  before a subject:

  • The number of is singular.  

                       
  

                                    

 


                   



 

    

 

                     

 

                   

 



View more information: https://webapps.towson.edu/ows/pro_antagree.htm

See more articles in category: Grammar
READ:  Notes - The Shipman

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