Contributor: Suzanne Riordan. Lesson ID: 13945
Did you know that pronouns can disagree? It's true! Disagreeing pronouns make a sentence sound weird. This lesson teaches you how to recognize and fix those pronouns -- all with a shopping theme!
When people agree with each other, there are no arguments, no tension, and no stress. There is just calmness and peace.
When people don't agree, there is stress, uneasiness, and irritation.
When pronouns don't agree, they create stress in a sentence. The sentence doesn't flow. It just sounds weird!
When a person goes to a store, they often want to buy stuff. They may want clothes, or you may want books. Whatever they're looking for, shopping is fun for us!
Those errors are problems with pronoun agreement. The pronouns just don't agree.
What a mess!
These mistakes are very common. However, once you learn how to spot them in your own writing and how to fix them, you will be on your way to becoming a great writer!
Learn more about pronoun agreement as you watch a portion of Pronoun Agreement Errors: Celebrity Grammar with Kanye West from SupertutorTV:
A pronoun and the word or phrase that it replaces have to agree in both person and number. Let's review those two things.
Agreement in Person
When talking about a piece of writing, the word person refers to the point of view of the narrator.
I'm going to buy a new computer.
We want a big-screen TV.
Did you buy the cell phone that you wanted?
He bought a Christmas present for his dad.
She needs a new jacket for the winter.
They are looking for a new swimming pool.
Explore a few examples.
I always buy milk because drinking milk at night helps you sleep better.
I and you are not the same person.
Change to: I always buy milk because drinking milk at night helps me sleep better.
Mariah and Sarah often stop at the thrift store because you never know when you'll find a bargain.
Mariah and Sarah are third person, and you is second person.
Change to: Mariah and Sarah often stop at the thrift store because they never know when they'll find a bargain.
Agreement in Number
The pronoun and the word or phrase that is being replaced must also agree in number, meaning whether it's singular or plural.
It should also be singular.
You guessed it! It must also be plural.
Take a look at these examples.
When Helen and Barbara go shopping, she always buys a sweater.
It can't refer to both of them. Helen and Barbara is plural, and she is singular.
Change to: When Helen and Barbara go shopping, they always buy sweaters.
or: When Helen goes shopping with Barbara, she always buys a sweater.
One must be ready to encounter crowds if they go shopping on Christmas Eve.
The word one is a special kind of pronoun called an indefinite pronoun. It means a person. One is singular, so you cannot replace it with they which is plural.
Change to: One must be ready to encounter crowds if he (or she) goes shopping on Christmas Eve.
Indefinite pronouns are words such as:
These are treated as third person and, usually, singular.
Look at some examples.
Each of the girls wants to buy a bracelet to match their earrings.
Each should be treated as singular, so it doesn't match their.
Change to: Each of the girls wants to buy a bracelet to match her earrings.
Does anyone in the family need new sheets for their bed?
Anyone should be treated as singular, so it doesn't agree with their.
Change to: Does anyone in the family need new sheets for his or her bed?
Either James or Kevin needs a new seat for their bike.
Since it stands for James or Kevin, not both, the pronoun either is treated as singular and doesn't agree with their.
Change to: Either James or Kevin needs a new seat for his bike.
Just remember: pronouns have to agree in person and number.
Go to the Got It? section and practice!