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presentation is
2016 by
Robin L. Simmons.
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Pronoun
Agreement
Until You Pass Out !

Rule
Rule 1:
1: Know
Know the
the general
general rule
rule
governing
governing pronoun
pronoun agreement.
agreement.

A pronoun must agree with its antecedent.

The
The antecedent
is usually
usually aa noun
that the
the
antecedent is
noun that
pronoun
pronoun replaces
For example,
example, you
you can
can
replaces.. For
replace
replace Mrs.
with she
or her
the
Mrs. Hill
Hill with
she or
her,, the
students
with they
or them
students with
they or
them..

Here
Here are
are two
two examples:
examples:
The lizard licked
its eyeball.
Lizard = singular antecedent
its = singular pronoun

The lizards licked


their eyeballs.
Lizards = plural antecedent
their = plural pronoun

Know
Know the
the difference
difference between
between
these
these singular
singular and
and plural
plural
personal
personal pronouns.
pronouns.

Singular
He,
He, she,
she, itit
Him,
Him, her,
her, itit
His,
His, hers,
hers, its
its
Himself,
Himself, herself,
herself,
itself
itself

Plural
They
They
Them
Them
Their,
Their, theirs
theirs
Themselves
Themselves

Do
Do not
not confuse
confuse
its
with its
its with
its..

Its [with an apostrophe] means it is or it has.


Its [without an apostrophe] means belonging to

itfor example, its bowl, its sharp teeth, its long


claws, etc.
Possessive pronounsunlike possessive nouns
do not need an apostrophe with the
final s.

Rule
Rule 2,
2, Part
Part 1:
1: The
The conjunction
conjunction a
and
nd
can
can cause
cause problems
problems with
with pronoun
pronoun
agreement.
agreement.

Two
Two [or
[or more]
more] singular
singular things
things joined
joined by
by and
and
become
become aa plural
antecedent.
plural antecedent.
The new puppy and kitten have destroyed their
owners sofa.

Rule
Rule 2,
2, Part
Part 2:
2: When
When each
each or
or
every
every precedes
precedes two
two [[or
or more
more]]
singular
singular things
things joined
joined by
by and
and,, a
a
singular
singular antecedent
antecedent is
is formed.
formed.

Each new puppy and kitten destroys


its owners sofa.

In
In this
this situation,
situation, no
no matter
matter how
how many
many
singular
singular nouns
nouns that
that you
you join
join with
with and
and,,
the
the antecedent
antecedent is
is still
still singular.
singular.

Each new puppy, kitten, rabbit, tarantula,


python, parrot, iguana, and ferret
destroys its owners sofa.

Rule
Rule 3:
3: Use
Use caution
caution with
with these
these three
three
correlative
correlative conjunctions:
conjunctions: either
either
or
or,,
neither
neither
nor
nor,, and
and not
not only
only
but
but also
also..

Of the two antecedents


in the sentence, the
pronoun must agree with
the closer one.

Here
Here are
are two
two examples:
examples:
Not only Louise but also the Smiths fixed their
famous squid eyeball stew for the picnic.
Not only the Smiths but also Louise fixed her
famous squid eyeball stew for the picnic.

Indefinite
Indefinite pronouns
pronouns cause
cause
the
the biggest
biggest headaches
headaches for
for
pronoun
pronoun agreement.
agreement.

Rule
Rule 4,
4, Part
Part 1:
1: These
These indefinite
indefinite
pronouns
pronouns are
are always
always singular
singular
[[even
even when
when they
they seem
seem plural
plural]]..

Each, either,
either, neither
neither
Each,
Anyone, anybody,
anybody, anything
anything
Anyone,
Everyone, everybody,
everybody, everything
everything
Everyone,
No one,
one, nobody,
nobody, nothing
nothing
No
Someone, somebody,
somebody, something
something
Someone,

Everyone on Earth = more than one person


billions of people, in fact.
The word everyone, however, is still singular
and requires a singular pronoun for agreement.

Read
Read this
this example:
example:
Neither of my two brothers show much sense
when they date women.
This
This sentence
sentence might
might
sound
right, but
but itit is
is
sound right,
completely
completely wrong!
wrong!

Neither of my two brothers shows much sense


when he dates women. [Neither = singular.]

Wow, what
a babe!

Wow,
what a
fat
wallet!

Now imagine a parked car like this one:

Rule
Rule 4,
4, Part
Part 2:
2: When
When fixing
fixing an
an
agreement
agreement error,
error, try
try to
to avoid
avoid
sexist
sexist language
language that
that might
might
offend
offend your
your readers.
readers.

The
The sentence
sentence below
below sounds
natural but
but has
has an
an error.
error.
sounds natural

Someone left their lights on.

In
In the
the 1950s,
1950s, rule
rule books
books would
would
have
have recommended
recommended using
using the
the
masculine
masculine pronoun
pronoun exclusively.
exclusively.

Oh, my!
Someone left
his lights on.

In
In the
the 1970s,
1970s, after
after criticism
criticism from
from
feminists
feminists and
and civil
civil rights
rights activists,
activists, rule
rule
books
books next
next suggested
suggested using
using both
both
genders
genders so
so that
that males
males and
and females
females had
had
equal
equal representation
representation in
in the
the language.
language.

Someone left
his or her
lights on.

I can see
them along
the watch
tower . . .

A
A writer
writer who
who begins
begins
with
with he
he or
or she
she or
or him
him or
or
her
her will
will need
need to
to be
be
consistent.
consistent. But
But look
look
what
what happens
happens ......

Wanda Wrighter
Professor Pennington
ENC 1101
May 17, 2011
Student Success
If a student wants to improve his or her grades, he or she
should walk himself or herself over to the tutoring center. There,
Oh, the
he or she can request a tutor to help him or her with his or her
! will ensure that
homework. This preparation forhorror
his or her class
he or she is ready when taking his or her quizzes and exams. In
addition, the tutor might have old work to share. This way, the
student can find out himself/herself what to expect on the
assignments for a specific instructor that might change his/her
assignments rarely. Thus, the one thing that will insure the success
of a student is that he or she gets a tutor to help him or her.

st century, fix the error


In
In the
the 21
21st
century, fix the error
without
without the
the annoying
annoying repetition.
repetition.

Theres a car
with its
lights on.

Thankfully,
my wheels
dont have
that
problem.

Rule
Rule 4,
4, Part
Part 3:
3: Some
Some indefinite
indefinite
pronouns
pronouns are
are singular
singular or
or plural
plural,,
depending
depending on
on context
context..

All
All
Any
Any
None
None**
More
More
Most
Most
Some
Some

All of Beverlys hair


gets its color from
a bottle.
All of Beverlys
fingernails get their
color from a bottle.

Some groups of people, like a jury, also


cause pronoun agreement problems.

Rule
Rule 5:
5: Collective
Collective nouns
nouns are
are
singular
singular or
or plural,
plural, depending
depending on
on
context
context..

Collective nouns are groups of people:

team, jury, class, committee, army,


family, etc.
If all members are acting in unison, treat
the collective noun as singular and use a
singular pronoun.
If, however, all members are acting
individually, treat the noun as plural and
use a plural pronoun.

Read
Read these
these examples:
examples:
The team celebrated its
victory.

The team changed into


their street clothes and
went home happy.

When
When you
you cannot
cannot decide
decide if
if the
the
collective
collective noun
noun is
is singular
singular or
or plural,
plural,
insert
insert a
a plural
plural noun
noun after
after the
the
collective
collective noun,
noun, like
like this:
this:

The team members ran out onto the


field to meet their opponent.

Rule
Rule 6:
6: Companies
Companies,, organizations
organizations,, and
and
schools
schools are
are singular
singular and
and thus
thus require
require
singular
singular pronouns.
pronouns.

One urban legend is that Titos Taco Palace


makes its burritos with kangaroo meat.

The Pencil Enthusiast Society uses the


donations it receives to insure all writing
instruments have sharp points.
Next year, Weaver College will try to solve its
parking woes by requiring students to buy a $75
parking decal.

Quick Test
Directions: Find and fix the pronoun
agreement errors.

1.

At the zoo, every


every lion,
lion, tiger,
tiger,
leopard,
leopard, bear,
bear, snake,
snake, and
and
crocodile
its approval
crocodile roared
roared their
approval
when
when the
the mean
mean child
child slipped
slipped in
in a
a
puddle
puddle and
and cracked
cracked his
his head
head on
on
the
sidewalk.
the sidewalk.

2.

Each
Each of
of those
those worried
worried
students
students is
is wondering
wondering how
how to
to
cheat
his
her
cheat
effectively
on
his
her
cheat
effectively
on
cheat effectively
effectively on
on their
their
pronoun
agreement
quiz.
pronoun
agreement
quiz.
pronoun
agreement
pronoun agreement quiz.
quiz.

Or try this: Those worried


students are wondering how to cheat
effectively on their pronoun
agreement quiz.

3. Both
Both Mrs. Williams and her
her

Correct!
students
students are
are happy to hear
that
that they can order squid
eyeball
eyeball stew for their
their
lunch.
lunch.

4.

Not
only
my
two
dogs
but
also
Not only
onlymy
mytwo
twodogs
dogsbut
butalso
also
only
my
two
dogs
but
also
Buster
Buster the
the cat
cat loves
loves to
to eat
eat
pepperoni
pepperoni
that
pull
off
my
pepperoni
that
pull
off
my
pepperoni that
that IIII pull
pull off
off my
my
pizza
to
give
to
him
.
pizza
to
give
to
him
.
pizza
to
give
to
them.
pizza to give to them.

Remember that the closer of the


two antecedents counts: Not only
Buster the cat but also my two
dogs love to eat pepperoni that I pull off
my pizza to give to them.

5.

Oh, no! Someone


left their
his
her
Someone left
greasy
greasy French
French fries
fries on
on the
the
essay
essay that
that II have
have to
to turn
turn in
in to
to
Mrs.
Mrs. Neal
Neal next
next hour!
hour!

Or try this: Someone left greasy


French fries on the paper that I have
to turn in to Mrs. Neal next hour!

6.

The
class
cheered
its
The class
classcheered
cheeredtheir
its
class
cheered
their
approval
approval when
when Dr.
Dr. Shuman
Shuman
postponed
postponed
the
frog
dissection
postponed
the
frog
dissection
postponed the
the frog
frog dissection
dissection
so
that
the
students
could
go
so
that
the
students
could
go
so
that
the
students
could
so that the students could go
go
home
early
on
Friday
home
early
on
Friday
home
early
on
Friday
home early on Friday
afternoon.
afternoon.
afternoon.
afternoon.

Or try this: The students cheered


their approval when Dr. Shuman
postponed the frog dissection so that
they could go home early . . .

7.

Nick
Cluck-a-Buck
but
Nick loves
loves Cluck-a-Buck,
Cluck-a-Buck,but
,but
but
Cluck-a-Buck,
it
uses
it
uses
so
much
MSG
as
they
use
so
much
MSG
as
they
useso
somuch
muchMSG
MSGas
as
flavoring
flavoring
that
he
sneezes
for
an
flavoring
that
he
sneezes
for
an
flavoring that
that he
he sneezes
sneezes for
for an
an
hour
hour
after
eating
just
hour
after
eating
just
aa
hour after
after eating
eating just
just a
a
drumstick.
drumstick.
drumstick.
drumstick.

8.

None
None of
of Sabrinas
Sabrinas friends
friends will
will
give
their
give up
up one
one of
of his
their
pencils
or
her
his
orpencils
her
so
that
who
so
that Sabrina,
Sabrina,
who is
is always
always
pencils
so
who
pencils
so that
that Sabrina,
Sabrina,
who is
is
unprepared,
can
take
her
unprepared,
can
take
hertake
always
unprepared,
can
always unprepared, can
take
pronoun
agreement
quiz
pronoun
agreement
quiz
her
pronoun
agreement
her pronoun agreement quiz
quiz
today.
today.
today.
today.

9.

Either
Either of
of those
those two
two shirts
shirts will
will
enhance
enhance your
your brown
brown eyes
eyes with
with
its
vibrant
colors.
its
vibrant
colors.
their
vibrant
colors.
their
vibrant
colors.

Or try this: Both of those shirts


will enhance your brown eyes with
their vibrant colors.

10. The
committee
unanimously
The committee
committeeunanimously
unanimously
committee
unanimously

decided
decided to
to impeach
impeach the
the
president
it
president
because
it could
could
president
because
could
president because
because they
they
could
no
longer
stand
his
longno
longer
stand
his
longno
longer
stand
his
no longer stand his longlongwinded
speeches
and
unclear
winded
speeches
and
unclear
winded
speeches
and
unclear
winded speeches and unclear
policies.
policies.
policies.
policies.

Or try this: The committee


members unanimously decided to
impeach the president because they
could no longer stand . . .

The End.