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Rule 1: Each pronoun must refer clearly to a single antecedent. Now read this sentence:. her. Lorna told Sue Anne that her miniskirt was too short and too tight. Is there a problem?. Isn’t it possible to see two different pictures? This one …. Girl, that skirt is a little tight!.

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Rule 1 each pronoun must refer clearly to a single antecedent
Rule 1: Each pronoun must refer clearly to a single antecedent.

Now read this sentence:

her

Lorna told Sue Anne that her miniskirt was too short and too tight.

Is there a problem?


Isn t it possible to see two different pictures this one
Isn’t it possible to see two different pictures? This one

Girl, that skirt is a little tight!

You really think so?


Or this one
… or this one?

I know, I know … It’s too short!

No time for laundry this week, huh?


To fix the problem try one of these two strategies

Strategy 1: Use a specific word to replace the pronoun.

Lorna told Sue Anne that her skirt was too short and too tight.

Strategy 2: Completely revise the sentence.

Lorna told Sue Anne that her skirt was too short and too tight.

To fix the problem, try one of these two strategies.

Sue Anne’s skirt

Lorna’s skirt

Anne, “My skirt is

Anne, “Your skirt is

tight.”


Rule 2 a pronoun should not refer to a possessive noun one that ends in s or s

Rule 2: A pronoun should not refer to a possessive noun (one that ends in ’s or s’).

The cockroach’s antennae searched the air as it attempted to find leftover crumbs or spilled soda.

Now read this sentence:

it

Is there a problem, my friends?


To fix the problem try one of these two strategies1

Strategy 1: that ends in Use of to show possession instead of ’s or s’.

The antennae of the cockroach searched the air as it attempted to find leftover crumbs or spilled soda.

Don’t use this option if the sentence will sound really weird.

Bob’s eyes grew more and more tired as he studied his pronoun reference rules.

The eyes of Bob grew … (Sounds like the title of a horror movie!)

To fix the problem, try one of these two strategies:


The eyes of bob say know strategy 2
The eyes of Bob say know Strategy 2! that ends in

  • Strategy 2: Change the unclear pronoun to a specific noun.

    The cockroach’s antennae searched the air as this insect attempted to find leftover crumbs or spilled soda.


Rule 3 use they with precision they should have a single clear antecedent
Rule 3: Use that ends in they with precision. They should have a single, clear antecedent.

Now read this sentence:

Don’t worry if the stock market is down. They say that fluctuations are natural and won’t hurt your long-term investments.

They

Is there a problem?


They who
They that ends in who?

Pay attention! I know you can hear me!

Talking squirrels from Lake Eola?

Space aliens from Zortek?

Market analysts?


Say what you mean
Say what you mean! that ends in

Don’t worry if the stock market is down. Space aliens say that fluctuations are natural and won’t hurt your long-term investments.

Don’t worry if the stock market is down. The talking squirrels at Lake Eola say that fluctuations are natural and won’t hurt your long-term investments.

Don’t worry if the stock market is down. Market analysts say that fluctuations are natural and won’t hurt your long-term investments.


Rule 4 use it with precision it should have a single clear antecedent
Rule 4: Use that ends in it with precision. Itshould have a single, clear antecedent.

Now read this sentence:

It

It says in this week’s National Inquisitor that the Loch Ness Monster ate Elvis Presley.

Is there a problem?


What says who says
What that ends in says? Who says?

It says in this week’s National Inquisitor that the Loch Ness Monster ate Elvis Presley.

This

Inquisitor says that the Loch Ness Monster ate Elvis Presley.

I must admit that he tasted pretty bad.


In addition use it sparingly

In addition, use that ends in it sparingly.

We do! The talking squirrels from Lake Eola!

They say that Ms. Simmons will allow no more than two its per sentence!

Who says?


Rule 5 make certain that this that and which have one clear antecedent
Rule 5: Make certain that that ends in this, that, and whichhave one clear antecedent.

Now read this sentence:

The 747 crashed into a kennel full of puppies, killing everyone on board, which really upset Gloria.

which

Is there a problem?


What really upset gloria
What that ends in really upset Gloria?

Oh, no! We’re going down! We’re all going to die!

Oh, no! Is that a kennel full of puppies below?


Say what you mean1
Say what you mean! that ends in

The 747 crashed into a kennel full of puppies, killing everyone on board. Plane crashes really upset Gloria.

The 747 crashed into a kennel full of puppies, killing everyone on board. The dead passengers really upset Gloria.

The 747 crashed into a kennel full of puppies, killing everyone on board. All those doomed puppies really upset Gloria.


Rule 6 use you or any other second person pronoun only for direct address
Rule 6: Use that ends in you (or any other second-person pronoun) only for direct address.

I never ride the Kumba at Busch Gardens

because roller coasters always make you

throw up.

Now read this sentence:

you

Is there a problem?


Wheeeeeee

Wheeeeeee! that ends in

Whoooooo!

Use second-person pronouns only if you mean your reader!


Fix the problem this way
Fix the problem this way: that ends in

I never ride the Kumba at Busch Gardens because roller coasters always make you throw up.

me

I don’t feel so good …


Rule 7 make sure that who which and that refer to the right types of nouns
Rule 7: Make sure that that ends in who, which, and that refer to the right types of nouns.

Now read this sentence:

King, Jerome’s German shepherd, which barks incessantly, works better at deterring thieves than any alarm system ever could.

which

Is there a problem?


Use who for people famous animals or named pets
Use that ends in who for people, famous animals, or named pets.

Fred, who plays the drums …

Mickey Mouse, who greets guests …

King, who guards the house …


Use which for inanimate objects and unnamed animals
Use that ends in which for inanimate objects and unnamed animals.

Our refrigerator, which makes strange noises …

My lucky pen, which I use to …

The stray cat which my neighbor helped …


Use that for anything unnamed though who is best for people
Use that ends in that for anything unnamed, though who is best for people.

The jerk that lives next door …

The iguana that Tajuana has as a pet …

The coffee maker that we received as a gift …


The end

Thanks, Robin Nimmons! that ends in

The End.

Study for your pronoun reference quiz! It’s a hard nut to crack!


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