Pronoun antecedent agreement is a grammatical rule that states that pronouns must agree with their antecedents in terms of number and gender. An antecedent is a noun, pronoun, or phrase to which a pronoun refers.
For example, in the sentence « John went to the store and he bought some milk, » the pronoun « he » refers to the antecedent « John. » The pronoun « he » agrees in terms of number (singular) and gender (male) with the antecedent « John. »
In order to ensure proper pronoun antecedent agreement, it is important to identify the antecedent of a pronoun in a sentence. This can sometimes be challenging, especially in complex sentences where there may be multiple nouns and pronouns.
The most common errors that occur with pronoun antecedent agreement involve indefinite pronouns. Indefinite pronouns, such as « everyone » and « anyone, » are singular and should be matched with singular pronouns.
For example, the sentence « Everyone should bring their own lunch » is incorrect because the singular pronoun « everyone » is matched with the plural pronoun « their. » Instead, the sentence should read « Everyone should bring his or her own lunch » or « Everyone should bring their own lunch bags. »
Another common error is with gender neutral pronouns, such as « they » or « them. » While traditionally, pronouns have been gender-specific, there is growing acceptance in using gender-neutral pronouns.
For example, the sentence « The teacher gave an A to the student because they worked hard » uses the gender-neutral pronoun « they » to describe the student. In cases where the gender of a person is not known, gender-neutral pronouns can be used.
In conclusion, pronoun antecedent agreement is an important grammatical rule that ensures clarity and coherence in writing. By matching pronouns with their antecedents in terms of number and gender, writers can avoid common mistakes and make their writing more effective.