Quick Grammar | Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement
A pronoun is a word that replaces a noun in a sentence. Pronouns include I, you, he, she, it, they, him, and her.
An antecedent is the word that the pronoun is replacing. For instance, if the pronoun “he” refers to “Mr. White,” then Mr. White is the antecedent.
Pronouns and antecedents must agree in number, gender, and person.
For instance, a singular pronoun must be paired with a singular antecedent, and a plural pronoun must be paired with a plural antecedent.
The students were worried that they would be late for school.
- The antecedent in this sentence is “students,” which is plural. There is more than one student.
- “Students” is replaced with the pronoun “they.”
- “They” is also plural, so the pronoun and antecedent are in agreement.
The cell phone was ruined after it got dropped in the pool.
- The antecedent in this sentence is “cell phone,” which is singular. There is only one cell phone.
- “Cell phone” is replaced with the pronoun “it.”
- “It” is also singular, so this pronoun and antecedent are in agreement too.
A female antecedent should be paired with a female pronoun, like she,” while a male antecedent should be paired with a male pronoun, like “he.” A neutral antecedent can be paired with a neutral pronoun like “It,” “they,” or “he or she.”
To learn more about antecedent and pronoun agreement, review WriteLab’s Guide.
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