Author: Rebecca Oberg

This learning packet should review:
-What are pronouns?
-How pronouns function in a sentence
-Common mistakes with pronouns (e.g. possessive pronouns, pronoun reference, and pronoun agreement)

This packet offers learners a detailed look at pronoun use. Two slide show presentations are provided, one being a basic run-down or simple pronoun review, and the other being a detailed, thorough, and more academic look at the subject. The packet also offers a fun and informative song about pronouns, as well as a few key tips to using them successfully.

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Pronouns 101

This simple yet informative slide show presentation offers learners definitions and examples of the main types of pronouns in an effective and to-the-point way.

Pronoun Reference, Antecedents, and More!

This detailed and thorough slide show presentation offers a sound academic look at pronoun usage, focusing particularly on pronoun reference and antecedents.

Source: uwf.edu/writelab/reviews/Pronoun_Reference_I_revised_fall_09.ppt, modified by Rebecca Oberg

Get Musical: The Pronoun Song

This catchy classic tune was originally featured on Schoolhouse Rock's Grammar Rocks series. Providing strong information about pronouns in an accessible, highly engaging and memorable way, this song is a great place to start when learning about this part of speech.

Source: Schoolhouse Rock, YouTube

Using Pronouns Clearly

 Because a pronoun REFERS BACK to a noun or TAKES THE PLACE OF that noun, you have to use the correct pronoun so that your reader clearly understands which noun your pronoun is referring to.

Therefore, pronouns should:

1. Agree in number

If the pronoun takes the place of a singular noun, you have to use a singular pronoun.

If a student parks a car on campus, he or she has to buy a parking sticker.

Remember: the words everybody, anybody, anyone, each, neither, nobody, someone, a person, etc. are singular and take singular pronouns.

Everybody ought to do his or her best. (NOT: their best)

Neither of the girls brought her umbrella. (NOT: their umbrellas)

NOTE: Many people find the construction "his or her" wordy, so if it is possible to use a plural noun as your antecedent so that you can use "they" as your pronoun, it may be wise to do so. If you do use a singular noun and the context makes the gender clear, then it is permissible to use just "his" or "her" rather than "his or her."

2. Agree in person

If you are writing in the "first person" (I), don't confuse your reader by switching to the "second person" (you) or "third person" (he, she, they, it, etc.). Similarly, if you are using the "second person," don't switch to "first" or "third."

When a person comes to class, he or she should have his or her homework ready.

(NOT: When a person comes to class, you should have your homework ready.)

3. Refer clearly to a specific noun.

Don't be vague or ambiguous.

NOT: Although the motorcycle hit the tree, it was not damaged. (Is "it" the motorcycle or the tree?)

NOT: I don't think they should show violence on TV. (Who are "they"?)

NOT: Vacation is coming soon, which is nice. (What is nice, the vacation or the fact that it is coming soon?)

NOT: George worked in a national forest last summer. This may be his life's work. (What word does "this" refer to?)

NOT: If you put this sheet in your notebook, you can refer to it. (What does "it" refer to, the sheet or your notebook?)