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Pronouns and Antecedents

Recognize clear pronoun reference

Putting the cart before the horse
 

 

Pronouns and Their Antecedents

PERSONAL PRONOUN BEFORE PRONOUN

After the first-mention of a noun, a pronoun is commonly used to refer to the noun a second time.  The noun is called  the antecedent to the pronoun.  Antecedent means "goes before".

spacernoun (antecedent)         pronoun 
By the time my family arrived, they were very hungry.
spacerrefers to my family

spacernoun (antecedent)         pronoun 
Because of the boy's hunger, he was permitted to eat early.
spacerrefers to the boy's

PRONOUN BEFORE PERSONAL PRONOUN

Placing the pronoun before the noun to which it refers is similar to "putting the cart before the horse". Not mentioning the noun at all forces the other person to guess what you are talking about.

spacer pronoun        noun (antecedent) 

By the time they arrived, my family was very hungry.

spacer pronoun        noun (antecedent) 
Because of his hunger, the boy was permitted to eat early.

 

Antecedent  — a word that comes before and is represented by another word after it. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unclear Pronoun Reference

Reword a sentence when a pronoun reference is unclear.

 

Antecedent of Same Gender

NOUN OF SAME GENDER

A pronoun refers to a noun of the same gender. The reference is easy to understand when there is only one noun.

John gave Mary a recipe.  She is a talented cook. 
                        refers to Mary

She refers to Mary.

Tracy gave Robin a recipe.  *She is a talented cook. 
spacerRefers to Mary 

Unclear! Tracy and Robin are names that could be male or female.

Tracy gave Robin a recipe.  Robin is a talented cook. 

Reword and identify by name.

Tracy gave Robin her recipe because she asked for it.

Reword with context.

CLOSEST NOUN OF SAME GENDER

A pronoun refers to a noun of the same gender. However, if there are two personal nouns of the same gender, then it refers to the closest noun. 

John was thanked by MaryHe is thoughtful.

He refers to John, the closest masculine noun. 

Tracy (female) gave Robin (if female) a recipe.  She is a talented cook.   

She refers to the closest noun, Robin.

Tracy (female) gave Robin (if male) a recipe.  She is a good cook.

She refers to Tracy (the closest noun of female gender).
 

Robin was helped by Tracy. She is a good cook.
                                     refers to Mary
Passive voice can be used to place a noun in a clause closer to the pronoun.  

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Cousins

 

 

 

Use the sentence clues (context) to figure out which pronoun to use to complete the sentence.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.

 

1.
,

2.

3.

4.

5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

Twins

twins
 

 

Decide whether to use the noun or a pronoun that refers to it.

  1. Select the word from each menu that best completes the sentence.  
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button to the right. 

 

6-10.
When my identical twin girls, Ashley and Chelsea, were about a month old,
When my identical twin girls, Ashley and Chelsea, were about a month old,
 

 

 

11-17.
 

 

 

18-20.