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This presentation is brought to you by chomp! Grammar Bytes!, chomp! 2014 by Robin L. Simmons.

Pronoun Agreement

should know


Or his or her pronouns?


This presentation covers maintaining


between a pronoun and its antecedent.

A pronoun agreement item on an objective test might look like this . . .

Sample Item
Spendthrifts are quickly parted from their their A money. So a person person who whowants wantsto tostart startsaving saving B should not spend all of his their their time time time at at at the the the mall. mall. mall. C C A. B. C. D.
The second Is the first their, his or her does not agree with a person , or the someone a person an error second, their a that choice C fixes. problem? his his No change is necessary.

Agreement in a Nutshell
The kangaroo carries its joey in a pouch.
kangaroo = singular antecedent its = singular pronoun

The kangaroos carry their joeys in pouches.

kangaroos = plural antecedent their = plural pronoun

Know your pronouns.

he, she, it him, her, it his, her, hers, its himself, herself, itself

they them their, theirs themselves



Two [or mor e] singular things joined by and make a plur al antecedent.
The new puppy and kitten have destroyed their owners sofa.

W hen each or ever y pr ecedes two [or mor e] singular things joined by and , you have a singular antecedent.
Each new Every newpuppy puppyand andkitten kittendestroy destroy s sits its
owners sofa.

I n t h i s s i t u at i o n , n o m at t e r how m any s i n g u l a r n o u n s yo u j o i n w i t h and , t h e a n t e c e d e n t i s sti l l s i n g u l a r.

Each new puppy, kitten, rabbit, tarantula, python, parrot, turtle, and ferret destroys its
owners sofa.

Use caution with these three c o n j u n c t i o n s : ei ther or , nei ther nor , a n d not onl y but al so . Not only Louise the Smiths but also but also the Smiths Louise fixed fixed her their famous squid squid eyeball stew stew the their famous famous squid eyeball eyeball stew for for the picnic. for the picnic.
If you Youll want have to use two their, you antecedents will need to flip the the Smiths Smiths and and Louise Louise so but that only the the Smiths closer one are closercounts to the pronoun. !

T hese indefinite pr onouns ar e always singular [even w hen they seem plur al]. Each, either, neither Anyone, anybody, anything Everyone, everybody, everything No one, nobody, nothing Someone, somebody, something

Everyone on Earth = more than one personbillions of

people, in fact. The word everyone, however, is still singular.

Bewar e inter r upting phr ases.

Neither my two brothers show s much Neither ofof my two brothers show much sense when they he dates women. date women.

Of my two This sentence might brothers sound = prepositional right, but it is phrase; neither = singular completely wrong ! antecedent.

Wow, what a babe! Wow, what a fat wallet!

Wow, what a loser!

Company , or ganization , depar tment , and school names ar e singular .

One urban legend is that Titos Taco Palace makes their its burritos burritoswith withkangaroo kangaroomeat. meat.

We did not!

Did you know that?

Quick Test
Directions: In the items that follow, choose the option that corrects an error in the underlined portion(s). If no error exists, choose No change is necessary.

Show me what you know.

Item 1
Not only my brothers but also Mom loves to drench their their omelets omelets in in ketchup. ketchup. A. his B. her her C. his and her D. No change is necessary.

Item 2
The students and their their professor professor sweated sweated in in the the A hot classroom. Each Each one one of of them them wondered wondered why why B they had they she had haddecided decided decidedto to tocommit commit committo to tosummer summer summerschool. school. school. C A. B. C. D. his or her Every she she No change is necessary.

Item 3
Robert and Sue Ellen concentrated on the dead worm on the dissection tray. They They used used tweezers tweezers to pick through innards looking for the heart.
A. He B. She C. He or she D. No change changeis isnecessary. necessary.

Item 4
The students have decided to eat at Titos Taco Palace, where they they can can order order the the special. special. Their Their Its A BB discount burrito and soda will satisfy hunger, and its its C cheap prices will help wallets!

A. B. C. D.

he or she Its Its their No change is necessary.

Item 5
Either of these thick books by respected authors will have the answer to your research question in their many their many pages. pages.
A. his B. his or her C. its its D. No change is necessary.

Item 6
If people everyone everyone stopped stopped stopped to to smell tosmell smell the the the roses, roses, roses, they they they might might might AA BB get stung by bees and have their their allergies allergies kick kick in in to to C overdrive!
A. B. C. D. people people he or she his or her No change is necessary.

Item 7
Weaver Hill High has strange school colors. Their Their hot pink and bright yellow combination really stands out on the field.
A. Its Its B. His C. His and her D. No change is necessary.

Item 8
Sam is starving, and his buddies have just ordered their upsized their upsized meals. meals. Despite Despite Sams Sams drooling, drooling, A neither of them them will will part part with with their their his French French French fries. fries. fries. B C C A. B. C. D. his him his his No change is necessary.

Item 9
Clyde refuses to return to the weight room because its its staff staff always always pokes pokes fun fun of of his his skinny skinny arms and legs.
A. their B. his C. her D. No change changeis isnecessary. necessary.

Item 10
Everyone Everyone The students should should should memorize memorize memorize a aShakespeare Shakespeare a Shakespeare AA monologue for Mrs. Smith because the extra credit points will help them them improve improve their theiraverages averagesat at B C the end of the semester.

A. B. C. D.

The students students him or her his or her No change is necessary.

provides additional chomp! and exercises handouts on pronoun agreement. Go to chompchomp.com!

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