Thursday, November 29, 2018

Pronouns and Antecedents

Pronouns and Antecedents

Our writing would be dull if we repeated nouns. Consequently, we use a pronoun (‘pro’ meaning ‘for’) instead of repeating a noun.

Pronouns and Antecedents
Pronouns and Antecedent


1. Number, Person, and Gender (Pronouns and Antecedents)


(a) Possessive, relative and demonstrative pronouns must be of the same number, person and gender as the nouns.

One should not waste his energy over trifles. (Wrong)

One should not waste one’s energy over trifles. (Right)

I am not one of those who imagines facts when, in fact, I haven’t any. (Wrong, there aren’t any is correct).

He is one of those men who are never content with anything less than perfection. (Right)

(b) The pronoun is singular when two singular nouns joined by and are preceded by each or every.

Every day and every night brings its duty. (Right)

(c) The pronoun is singular when two or more singular nouns are joined by or, either…. or, or neither ….. nor. Thus :

The senior salesman or the sales manager should put his time into investigating the details. 

Either Rajan or  Jagannathan forgot to take his book.

Neither Bina nor Shreelekhaa did her job properly.

(d)  When a plural noun and a singular noun are joined by or-or nor, the pronoun agrees with the noun nearest to it :

Either the manager or the assistants failed in their duty.

Either the assistants or the manager failed in his duty.

Neither he nor they have done their duty.

Neither they nor he did his duty.

2. Reflexive Pronoun (Pronouns and Antecedents)


When such verbs as avail, absent, acquit, enjoy are used reflexively, never omit the reflexive pronoun :

I shall avail of your kind advice. (Wrong)

I shall avail myself of your kind advice. (Correct)

He absented from school. (Wrong)

He absented himself from school (Right)

But a reflexive pronoun cannot be used alone as the subject of a verb. It should be preceded by some other noun or pronoun.

I and his sister were standing there. (Wrong. His sister and I …. Is correct)

3. Relative Pronoun (Pronouns and Antecedents)


(a) After such, use the relative pronoun as and not who or which e.g. :

His answer was such as I had expected him to give.

(b)  A relative pronoun should agree with its antecedents in person and number, e.g. :

This is one of the most interesting novels that has appeared this year.          

(Wrong. Change ‘has’ to ‘have’).

This is the only one of his short stories that are worth reading.

(Wrong. Change is to is, for here the antecedent of  that is one)

(c)  A relative pronoun or relative adverb should be placed as close to its antecedent  as possible, e.g. :

I have read Plato’s writings, who was a disciple of Socrates. (Wrong)

I have read the writings of Plato, who was a disciple of Socrates. (Correct)

(d)  Each other should be used in speaking of two persons or things, ‘one another’ in speaking or more  than two :

When we two parted, we wished good luck to each other.

But – we should love one another.

(e)  Either should be used in reference to two. When the reference is to more than two, we should use anyone:

Either of these two books will meet my purpose.

She is taller than any one of her five sisters. (not either)

They also enjoyed each other’s company.

4. Case Forms of Pronouns: ‘he/him’, ‘they/them’. (Pronouns and Antecedents)


(a)  A pronoun following any form of the verb be (am, is, are, was, were, been, be) and referring to the subject is in the nominative case :

The officers of the company are Kamal, Sita and I.

It was they who telephoned last light.

Do you think it could have been she who sang on the radio?

Controversy exists over This is I or It’s I or This is me or it’s me, as the latter versions are commonly used in spoken English.

(b) The object of a verb or a preposition is in the accusative case.

me, you, her, him, it, us, them.

Both members of a compound subject must be in the same case :

Mother met Radha and me at the airport.

(Radha and me are objects of the verb met)

Between Ram and him there has always been a good understanding.

(Ram and him are objects of the preposition between).

(c)  The indirect object precedes the direct object and  tells to whom or for whom the action of the verb is done. It is the noun or pronoun before which to or  for is understood :

Hari sent me a  book from England.

(me is the object of to understood ; book is the direct object)

Send me a piece of that cake. 

(me in the object of for  understood; piece is the direct object).

(d)  In case of an elliptical clause beginning with than or as, if you supply the missing word or words, you should have little trouble deciding the correct case form of the pronoun :

My sister is taller than I. (I am)

Mr. Mehta is as good a teacher as she. (she is)

Nobody cares more about your happiness than he. (than he does)

The subject of an infinite is in the accusative case. The infinite is a verb that usually has to in front of it:

She asked me to wait for her.

The boss asked me to go to the head office.

(e)  The object of an Infinite Gerund or Participle is in the objective case :

The principal wants to see us. (us is the object of the infinitive to see)

Finding you here is a surprise. (you is the object of the gerund’ finding)

Having recognized him instantly, I hurried across the street. (him is the object of the participle having  recognized)

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