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Pronouns. Identifying Problems with Pronoun Agreement and Pronoun Case. What’s a Pronoun Again?. A pronoun replaces a previously used noun, called its antecedent. (I, he, they, our, etc.) The chosen pronoun must match the original word in number, person, and gender .

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Identifying Problems with Pronoun Agreement and Pronoun Case

What s a pronoun again
What’s a Pronoun Again?

  • A pronoun replaces a previously used noun, called its antecedent. (I, he, they, our, etc.)

  • The chosen pronoun must match the original word in number, person, and gender.

  • The SAT test loves to pester students with questions that are filled with pronoun errors. Here are some ways to spoil the SAT test’s fun.

Correction strategies
Correction Strategies

  • Because a pronoun REFERS BACK to a noun or TAKES THE PLACE OF that noun, you have to use the correct pronoun so that your reader clearly understands which noun your pronoun is referring to.

  • Check to see that the pronoun agrees in number

  • If the pronoun takes the place of a singular noun, you have to use a singular pronoun.

    If a student parks a car on campus, he or she has to buy a parking sticker.

    (NOT: If a student parks a car on campus, they have to buy a parking sticker.)

  • Remember: the words everybody, anybody, anyone, each, neither, nobody, someone, a person, etc. are singular and take singular pronouns.

  • Everybody ought to do his or her best. (NOT: their best)


  • Check to see if the pronoun agrees in person

  • If you are writing in the "first person" ( I), don't confuse your reader by switching to the "second person" ( you) or "third person" (he, she, they, it, etc.). Similarly, if you are using the "second person," don't switch to "first" or "third."

    When a person comes to class, he or she should have his or her homework ready.

    (NOT: When a person comes to class, you should have your homework ready.)


  • Always check to see that the pronoun refers clearly to a specific noun.

  • Don't be vague or ambiguous.

    NOT: Although the motorcycle hit the tree, it was not damaged. (Is "it" the motorcycle or the tree?)

    NOT: I don't think they should show violence on TV. (Who are "they"?)

    NOT: If you put this sheet in your notebook, you can refer to it. (What does "it" refer to, the sheet or your notebook?)

Released sat pronoun questions
Released SAT Pronoun Questions

  • To become a world figure-skating champion like Kristi Yamiguchi, one must be so dedicated that youwill practice six hours a day.

  • Even though only parts of clay vessels may be recovered, these pottery shards are invaluable to the archaeologist because it is virtually indestructible.

  • The quality of multivitamin tablets is determined by how long its potency can be protected by the manufacturer's coating material.

  • Great literature, such as the Greek tragedies or the novels of Jane Austen, endures by their speaking directly and freshly to each new generation of readers.

Pronoun case
Pronoun Case

  • Pronouns fall into one of three different cases. Many PSAT/SAT questions, revolve around your knowledge of the correct pronoun case.

  • Subjective case: (I, you, he, she, it, we, they) pronouns used as subject.

  • Objective case: (me, you, him, her, us, them)pronouns used as objects of verbs or prepositions.

  • Possessive case: pronouns which express ownership.


The pronouns This, That, These, Those, and Which do not change form.

Some problems of case
Some Problems of Case

  • In compound structures, where there are two pronouns or a noun and a pronoun, drop the other noun for a moment. Then you can see which case you want.

    Not: Bob and me travel a good deal. (Would you say, "me travel"?)

    Not: He gave the flowers to Jane and I. (Would you say, "he gave the flowers to I"?)

    Not: Us men like the coach. (Would you say, "us like the coach"?)


  • In comparisons. Comparisons usually follow than or as:

    He is taller than I (am tall).

    This helps you as much as (it helps) me.

    She is as noisy as I (am).

  • Comparisons are really shorthand sentences which usually omit words, such as those in the parentheses in the sentences above. If you complete the comparison in your head, you can choose the correct case for the pronoun.

    Not: He is taller than me. (Would you say, "than me am tall"?)


  • In formal and semiformal writing:Use the subjective form after a form of the verb to be.Formal: It is I.Informal: It is me.

  • Use whom in the objective case.Formal: To whom am I talking?Informal: Who am I talking to?

Pronoun case questions from released sats
Pronoun Case Questions from Released SATs

  • Suggestion: If paired with another word, remove that word. Often, this makes the error clearer.)

  • When the teacher selected John and I to present our research project at the science fair, we were surprised and elated. (Receiving action: "the teacher selected me....")

  • Apparently impressed with our plans, the foundation awarded Carlos and I a grant to establish a network of community centers throughout the city. (Receiving action: "the foundation awarded me....")

  • The report Alexander is discussing, a report prepared jointly by he and the committee, does not take into account the socioeconomic status of those interviewed. (Receiving action: "a report prepared jointly by him...")

  • For we students, concern about impending tuition hikes was even more acute than apprehension about final exams. (Receiving action: "concern about impending tuition hikes...for us....")

Your turn to practice
Your Turn to Practice

  • In your text, try your hand at a few questions that focus on pronoun case and pronoun agreement.

  • Page 161, complete problems 2 and 3

  • Page 166-167, complete problems 1, 4 and 8