Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Pronoun Errors

GMAT Verbal Section -- Pronoun Errors

Pronoun Errors

A pronoun is a word that stands for a noun.This noun is termed as antecedent of pronoun.

(1). Pronouns must agree with their antecedant in both number (singular or plural) and person (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.).

Definite Pronouns - Has antecedents.
Indefinite Pronouns - Has no antecedents.

Always singular Indefinite Pronoun - Anybody, either, one, each, neither, another, some one, each one,anything, nobody,
somebody,no-one, something, everybody, nothing, everyone, whatever, everything, whichever, whoever.

Always plural Indefinite Pronouns - Both, few, others, several.

Sometimes singular sometimes plural Indefinite Pronouns -All, many, some, any, most.


Everything was in its place.
Everyone at the meeting voiced his/her opinion.

(2). Singular or plural depends on number of word or phrase to which it refers.


Some of the grass has lost its colour.
Some of the flowers have lost their petals.

(3). A pronoun should refer to one and only one noun or compound noun. This is the most common error in test questions. If a pronoun follows two nouns, it is often unclear which of the nouns the pronoun refers to.

Incorrect - The destabilization of the economy has left unstable stocks in the hands of frightened investors. It is imperative that they be more tightly controlled.

Should the unstable stocks be controlled or the frightened investors?

Either interpretation is possible from the structure of the sentence.

Correct - The destabilization of the economy has left unstable stocks in the hands of frightened investors. It is imperative that the unstable stocks be more tightly controlled.

(4). Subjects and objects:Objects that come in end of prepositional phrases:

Form --------- Object Form

I --------------------------- Me
You -----------------------You
He ------------------------Him
She ---------------------- Her
It ------------------------- It
We ---------------------- Us
They -------------------- Them

Incorrect - Her and me fought over the tea.
Correct - She and I fought over the tea.

(5). "They" or "it" should not be used without definite antecedents.


In that store they make a customer feel stupid.---Here use of they is incorrect as there is no antecedent for "they" in this sentence so instead of they a proper noun should be used.

Note:In expressions of time and weather antecedent of it is not given.


It is too hot today.

(6). A pronoun must also agree with its antecedent in person

Incorrect - When atheletes break training rules,we sometimes pay with poor performances.
Correct - When atheletes break training rules,they sometimes pay with poor performances.

(7). Subject form of pronoun always comes after ‘than’ or ‘as’.


Peggy is smaller than I (am).

(8). Indefinite pronouns which are always singular require singular verbs.


Somebody has left her purse.
Everyone has done his/her homework.

(9) Pronouns either and neither require singular verbs even if seem to refer,in a sense two things.


Neither of the two traffic lights is working.