Agreement between a pronoun and its antecedent is one of the fundamental rules of grammar. Pronouns are used in place of nouns, and their antecedents are the nouns they replace. A pronoun must agree with its antecedent in number, gender, and person. Here are some notes and rules to keep in mind when dealing with pronoun/antecedent agreement.
1. Determine the antecedent:
The first step in maintaining pronoun/antecedent agreement is to determine the antecedent. The antecedent is the noun that the pronoun is replacing. For example, in the sentence “John went to the store and he bought some bread,” “John” is the antecedent.
2. Number agreement:
The number of the pronoun must match the number of the antecedent. For example, if the antecedent is singular, the pronoun must also be singular. If the antecedent is plural, the pronoun must also be plural. For example, “The cat chased its tail” is correct because “cat” is singular and “its” is also singular. However, “The cats chased their tails” is correct because “cats” is plural and “their” is also plural.
3. Gender agreement:
Pronouns must also agree with the gender of their antecedents. For example, if the antecedent is male, the pronoun must be masculine. If the antecedent is female, the pronoun must be feminine. If the gender is unknown or unclear, use neutral pronouns such as “they” or “it.” For example, “The doctor said she would be in later” is correct because “doctor” is a female profession and “she” is a feminine pronoun.
4. Person agreement:
Pronouns must also agree with the person of their antecedents. If the antecedent is the first person (I, we), the pronoun must also be first person. If the antecedent is the second person (you), the pronoun must also be second person. If the antecedent is the third person (he, she, it, they), the pronoun must also be third person. For example, “Mary and I went to the store, and we bought some bread” is correct because “I” and “we” are both first person pronouns.
One of the most important things to avoid when dealing with pronouns is ambiguity. A pronoun should clearly refer to its antecedent without any confusion. For example, “Sally told her mother she would be home soon” is ambiguous because it`s unclear who will be home soon. Is it Sally or her mother? To avoid this, the sentence could be rewritten as “Sally told her mother that Sally would be home soon.”
In conclusion, pronoun/antecedent agreement is essential for clear and effective communication. By following these notes and rules, you can avoid awkward and confusing sentences and ensure that your writing is accurate and grammatically correct.