As a copy editor, one of the most common grammatical errors I come across is the agreement between pronouns and their antecedents. This error can occur when a pronoun is used to refer to a noun, but the two do not agree in gender or number. For example, “Every student should bring their textbook to class” should be corrected to “Every student should bring his or her textbook to class.”

Pronouns are words used to replace nouns in a sentence in order to avoid repetition. Some examples of pronouns include he, she, they, it, and we. An antecedent, on the other hand, is the noun that a pronoun replaces. For example, in the sentence “John went to the store to buy some groceries. He forgot his wallet,” “John” is the antecedent to “he” and “wallet” is the antecedent to “his.”

Correct agreement between pronouns and antecedents is important for both clarity and accuracy. When a pronoun does not agree with its antecedent, it can cause confusion for the reader and make the text appear unprofessional. Here are some tips for ensuring proper pronoun-antecedent agreement:

1. Identify the antecedent. Before using a pronoun, make sure you know exactly what noun it is replacing.

2. Match the pronoun to the antecedent in gender and number. If the antecedent is singular, use a singular pronoun. If the antecedent is plural, use a plural pronoun. Additionally, make sure the pronoun matches the gender of the antecedent. For example, use “she” to refer to a female antecedent and “he” to refer to a male antecedent.

3. Be inclusive. When referring to a group of people, use the gender-neutral pronouns “they” or “their” instead of assuming a specific gender. For example, “Everyone should bring their textbook to class.”

4. Rewrite the sentence if necessary. If you cannot find a pronoun that agrees with the antecedent, rewrite the sentence to avoid the pronoun entirely.

5. Proofread for errors. Once you have written your text, make sure to read it over carefully to check for any errors in pronoun-antecedent agreement.

In conclusion, proper agreement between pronouns and their antecedents is essential to clear and professional writing. By following these tips, you can ensure that your text is grammatically correct and easy to understand.