Using Pronouns Correctly

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The correct use of pronouns is a problem for many writers. Your pronouns must agree with the nouns that precede them (called the antecedents of the pronouns).One of the causes of this difficulty is understanding the use of pronouns in gender-neutral or gender-specific situations (see the Using Gender-Fair or Neutral Language page if this is your concern).

There are two types of agreement that must be correct: agreement in person and agreement in number. If you are wondering when to use "I," "you," or "he," "they," etc., please see the What is Person? page of this chapter. This page will discuss maintaining pronoun-antecedent agreement in number and clarity in your sentences when you use prounouns.

NUMBER AGREEMENT: This seems like a no-brainer: if you use a singular noun, use a singular pronoun; a plural noun, a plural pronoun. You should be aware of some complicating factors, however.

PRONOUN CLARITY: there are several situations which commonly cause problems -- see if any of these apply to your writing.