He published his autobiography two years ago. This was his first book.
[singular antecedent = autobiography]
One reviewer praised his honesty and directness. Those were qualities he had worked hard to develop.
[plural antecedent = his honesty and directness]
Make a pronoun agree with a generic antecedent.
Some nouns are used to describe a class or type of person or object, such as a student meaning "all students" or a company meaning "any company" or "all companies." Nouns that make such generalizations are called generic nouns. When a singular generic noun is the antecedent of a pronoun, make the pronoun singular. Do not use they to refer to a singular generic noun.
When a student is educated, they can go far in the world.
[singular antecedent = student; plural pronoun = they]
When a student is educated, he or she can go far in the world.
[singular antecedent = student; singular pronoun = he or she]
When students are educated, they can go far in the world.
[plural antecedent = students; plural pronoun = they]
Increasingly, you will see in advertising and journalism a plural pronoun referring to
a singular antecedent.
|Example||One day your child turns sixteen and you let them borrow the keys to the wagon.|
However, in formal academic situations, readers will expect a pronoun to agree with its
antecedent. Often the best solution is to make the antecedent plural.
|Faulty||We should judge a person by who they are, not by the color of their skin.|
|Revised||We should judge people by who they are, not by the color of their skin.|
Make a pronoun agree with the nearer of compound antecedents joined by or or
After a compound antecedent connected by or or nor, a pronoun agrees with the element of the antecedent nearer to it. If one antecedent is singular and the other plural, put the plural antecedent second and have the pronoun agree with it.
Either my father or my brother has left his bag in the hall.
Neither Bill nor the campers could find their luggage.
Make a pronoun agree with a collective noun.
Refer to a collective noun like class, family, jury, committee, couple, or team with a singular pronoun.
The class revised its examination schedule.
The committee has not yet completed its report.
However, when the members of the group named by the collective noun are considered to
be acting individually, use a plural pronoun.
|Example||The committee began to cast their ballots in a formal vote.|
Point of View
Use of you
Intensive and Reflexive Pronouns
Who Whom, Whoever Whomever