Structuring Sentences: Pronoun Agreement
Last updated 5/31/2016
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The background changes to a keyboard on a table and the title “Structuring Sentences: Pronoun Agreement.”
The slide changes to include the header “Agreement”. Below is the following text:
Number and gender must agree
- The student had to take his or her test.
- The team won its prize.
- Teachers are role models to their students.
Audio: As you're writing, you also want to remember that the number of your nouns and the pronouns that refer to them should also agree when you're writing sentences. So, if you have a word that you are replacing with a pronoun, like "his" or "her" or "its" or "their," the pronoun needs to agree in number with the original word.
So here we have "The student has to take his or her test." A lot of times we see a sentence like "The student has to take their test,” but then you have a plural pronoun "their" and a singular noun "the student", which would be an error in pronoun agreement. So you want to make sure that your pronoun and noun agree in number.
Here is a revision of the sentence that doesn't have a pronoun agreement error: "The student has to take his or her test." Another example would be the sentence "The team won its prize." In this sentence, "The team" is one unit, so it needs a singular pronoun to replace it, so we use "its" instead of a plural pronoun like "their".
Many times we tend to use the pronoun "their" as a singular word, but it doesn't work that way. We might use "their" as a singular word while we're speaking, but while we're writing we really want to be consistent and use "their" as a plural pronoun. So as you're writing, it's always a good idea to double-check your pronouns and ensure you are using the appropriate pronoun for the noun it is replacing or referring to.
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