Skip to content Skip to navigation

OpenStax_CNX

You are here: Home » Content » Pronoun Antecedent Agreement

Navigation

Lenses

What is a lens?

Definition of a lens

Lenses

A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

What is in a lens?

Lens makers point to materials (modules and collections), creating a guide that includes their own comments and descriptive tags about the content.

Who can create a lens?

Any individual member, a community, or a respected organization.

What are tags? tag icon

Tags are descriptors added by lens makers to help label content, attaching a vocabulary that is meaningful in the context of the lens.

This content is ...

Affiliated with (What does "Affiliated with" mean?)

This content is either by members of the organizations listed or about topics related to the organizations listed. Click each link to see a list of all content affiliated with the organization.
  • EAC Toolkit display tagshide tags

    This module is included inLens: Collaborative Development of Ethics Across the Curriculum Resources and Sharing of Best Practices
    By: University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez - College of Business AdministrationAs a part of collection: "CIVIS Project - UPRM"

    Click the "EAC Toolkit" link to see all content affiliated with them.

    Click the tag icon tag icon to display tags associated with this content.

Recently Viewed

This feature requires Javascript to be enabled.

Tags

(What is a tag?)

These tags come from the endorsement, affiliation, and other lenses that include this content.
 

Pronoun Antecedent Agreement

Module by: Gayle Griggs. E-mail the authorEdited By: Gayle Griggs, Benjamin Lugo, Jose A. Cruz-Cruz

Summary: Pronouns substitute nouns and, many times, refer to their antecedents, which are nouns or pronouns that the pronouns stand for. In English, most nouns are neutral in gender and use the pronoun it, its, or they or their. Nouns that refer to females or males (girl, boy, woman, man, lady, gentleman, mother, father, brother, sister, proper names of people) take pronouns such as he, she, his, her, or him.

A pronoun must always agree with its antecedent in both number and gender.

Objectives

Students will learn about pronoun-antecedent agreement. They will be able to locate the antecedent for each pronoun, and determine whether the pronoun should be neutral, gender specific, singular, or plural.

Students will learn that "he or she" should be used with indefinite singular pronouns that refer to a specific type of person (doctor, lawyer, engineer, representative) in order to avoid sexist language. Furthermore, when writing, students should consider replacing antecedents that refer to persons into the plural form to avoid overusing “he or she” in sentences.

Students will also learn that compound subjects using “and” use the plural form of pronouns. For compound subjects joined by “neither-nor” or “either-or”, the pronoun should agree with the antecedent that is closest to the subject. In the below example, the antecedents/pronouns are in bold print.

Example: The teacher and the students will attend their graduation ceremony.

Either/Neither the teacher or/nor the students will attend their graduation ceremony.

Teaching strategies:

The instructor should review personal, possessive, indefinite singular and indefinite plural pronouns, and collective nouns with the students (see tables below). Students need to learn that personal pronouns are classified as subjects or objects of a sentence depending on where they are located in a sentence. Possessive pronouns can serve as adjectives to modify nouns (used before the noun), or to indicate ownership.

Table 1
PERSONAL & POSSESSIVE PRONOUNS
SUBJECT OBJECT POSSESSIVE (used before a noun) POSSESSIVE PRONOUN
I Me My Mine
You You Your Yours
He Him His His
She Her Her Hers
It It Its Its
We Us Our Ours
You You Your Yours
They Them Their Theirs

The following indefinite pronouns are always singular in number:

Table 2
Indefinite Singular Pronouns
Anybody Each Everyone Nobody Somebody
Anyone Either Everything No one Someone
Anything Everybody Neither Nothing Something

The table below provides pronouns that may be either singular or plural pronouns:

Table 3
INDEFINITE SINGULAR OR PLURAL PRONOUNS
PLURAL SINGULAR OR PLURAL (depending on the noun it represents)
Both All Some
Few Any More
Many Either Most
Several None  

Collective nouns are usually singular unless the meaning is plural, when its members function as individuals. Below are common collective nouns to share with the students:

Table 4
COLLECTIVE NOUNS
Army Committee Herd Number
Audience Crew Jury Pack
Band Crowd Kind Pair
Bunch Dozen Litter Public
Class Galaxy Lot Staff
Company Group Majority Team
Couple Heap Minority Tribe

The instructor should review all material prior to teaching this lesson. In the slide show, the definition of pronoun-antecedent agreement is provided. Students should learn to identify the antecedent to a pronoun, and the pronoun itself: personal, possessive, indefinite singular, or indefinite plural. In addition, students should understand that collective nouns are usually singular but may be plural depending on whether its members function as a whole or as individuals.

The PowerPoint presentation provides the above-mentioned rules for pronoun-antecedent agreement. Four interactive practice slides (# 4, # 6, # 8, and # 12) offer in-class practice activities for the instructor to review with the class. Each practice sentence is animated individually so that the instructor can ask students to select the correct answer within the options that are given. After students respond, with a mouse click, the correct answer appears. The following general rules to pronoun-antecedent agreement are emphasized in the final slides of the PowerPoint presentation (slides # 13 and #14):

  1. All pronouns have antecedents, which refer to person(s) or object(s) that are previously mentioned in the text.
  2. Singular antecedents use singular pronouns.
  3. Plural antecedents use plural pronouns.
  4. Avoid sexist language; instead, use gender-neutral & plural antecedents (persons, individuals, students, people, human beings, postal workers, coordinators).
  5. The gender of a pronoun must match its antecedent: Diana waited for her husband.
  6. Most indefinite pronouns are singular.
  7. Generic nouns (doctor, student, writer, member, person) represent both males and females. -- A college student has his or her own point of view.
  8. Change generic nouns to plural to fix agreement problems. -- College students have their own points of view.
  9. Collective nouns are usually singular unless the people in the collective group act as individuals.
  10. If you’re not sure, look it up!

Materials:

In order to offer this lesson, instructors need a computer and a multi-media projector.

The following materials are provided with this module:

Assessment:

The authors recommend that the instructor distribute the practice sheets to the students as a pre-test prior to receiving the lesson. After completing the lesson, students should answer the practice sheets again as a post-test. In this way, instructors may determine whether the students master this objective or require additional instructional support.

Content actions

Download module as:

PDF | EPUB (?)

What is an EPUB file?

EPUB is an electronic book format that can be read on a variety of mobile devices.

Downloading to a reading device

For detailed instructions on how to download this content's EPUB to your specific device, click the "(?)" link.

| More downloads ...

Add module to:

My Favorites (?)

'My Favorites' is a special kind of lens which you can use to bookmark modules and collections. 'My Favorites' can only be seen by you, and collections saved in 'My Favorites' can remember the last module you were on. You need an account to use 'My Favorites'.

| A lens I own (?)

Definition of a lens

Lenses

A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

What is in a lens?

Lens makers point to materials (modules and collections), creating a guide that includes their own comments and descriptive tags about the content.

Who can create a lens?

Any individual member, a community, or a respected organization.

What are tags? tag icon

Tags are descriptors added by lens makers to help label content, attaching a vocabulary that is meaningful in the context of the lens.

| External bookmarks