Subject-Pronoun Agreement Grammar Tutorial

Subject-Pronoun
Agreement
Grammar Tutorial
Part One
Understanding PronounAntecedent Agreement
(The following is from Writing First 2nd ed., pg.412)
The word that a pronoun refers to is
called the pronoun’s antecedent. In the
following sentence, the noun leaf is the
antecedent of the pronoun it.
subject
pronoun
The leaf turned yellow, but it did not fall.
A pronoun must always agree in number
with the antecedent. If an antecedent is
singular, the pronoun must be singular. If
the antecedent is plural, the pronoun
must also be plural.
subject
pronoun
The leaves turned yellow, but they did not
fall.
A pronoun should always refer to a
specific antecedent.
Vague: On the evening news, they said a
baseball strike was inevitable.
Revised: On the evening news, the
sportscaster said a baseball strike was
inevitable.
Part Two
Solving Special Problems
with Subject-Pronoun
Agreement
Compound subjects combined with
and/or are either plural or singular.
These rules that apply to subject-pronoun
agreement are the same rules for
subject-verb agreement: the subject
closest to the verb must be in agreement
when there is an or in the compound
subject. Compound subjects with and
are always plural.
During World War II, Belgium and France
(subject) tried to protect their (pronoun)
borders.
Either my two dog or my tabby cat (subject)
must have put its (pronoun) paw in the frosting.
Either my tabby cat or my two dogs (subject)
must have put their paws (pronoun) in the
frosting.
Part Three
Indefinite Pronouns
Singular Indefinite Pronouns:
another
everybody
no one
anybody
everyone
nothing
anyone
everything
one
anything
much
somebody
each
neither
someone
either
nobody
someting
Example:
Everything (subject) was in its (pronoun)
place.
Each (subject) student has his or her
(pronoun) assignment.
Something (subject) s wrong with its
(pronoun) lock.
His or Her with
Singular Indefinite Pronoun
Even though the indefinite pronouns anybody,
anyone, everybody, everyone, someone, and
so on are singular, many people with plural
pronouns to refer to them.
Everyone (subject) must hand in their
(pronoun) completed work before 2 p.m.
(This usage is widely accepted in spoken
English. Nevertheless, indefinite pronouns like
everyone are singular, and written English
requires a singular pronoun.)
Although using the singular pronoun his to
refer to everyone is technically correct, doing
so assumes that everyone refers to an
individual is male. Using his or her allows for
the possibility that the indefinite pronoun may
refer to either a male or a female.
Everyone (subject) must hand in his or her
(pronoun) completed work before 2 p.m.
Indefinite Pronouns with
Of
Some singular indefinite pronouns may be
used in phrases with of – each of, either
of, neither of, or one of, for example.
Even in such phrases, these indefinite
pronoun antecedents are always singular
and take singular pronouns.
Each (subject) of the routes
(prepositional phrase) has its (pronoun)
[not their] own special challenges.
Part Four
Collective Nouns
Collective nouns are words (like band and team)
that name a group of people or things but are
singular. It takes the pronoun it/its
Frequently Used Collective Nouns:
army club
gang
mob
association
committee union
government
posse
band
company
group
team
class
family
jury
Examples:
The company (subject) provides its
(pronoun) verdict.
Every family (subject) has its (pronoun)
share of troubles.
The gang (subject) is known for its
(pronoun) (violent initiation rites.
Part Five
Understanding Pronoun
Case
Subjective
I
he
she
it
we
you
they
who
whoever
Objective
me
him
her
it
us
you
them
whom
whomever
Possessive
my, mine
his
her, hers
its
our, ours
your, yours
their, theirs
whose
A personal pronoun refers to a particular
person or thing. Personal pronouns
change form according to the way they
function in a sentence. Personal
pronouns can be subjective, objective, or
possessive.
When a pronoun functions as a
sentence’s subject, it is in the subjective
case.
Finally, she realized that dreams could
come true.
When a pronoun functions as an object, it
is in objective case.
If Joanna hurries, she can stop him. (The
pronoun him is the direct object of the
verb can stop.)
Professor Miller sent us information
about his research. (The pronoun us is
the indirect object of the verb sent).
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