Agreement of Pronoun and Its Antecedent

Pronouns are an essential part of any language, including English. They are used to refer to a person, place, thing, idea, or concept that has already been mentioned or is understood from the context. The antecedent is the noun or pronoun that the pronoun replaces. For instance, in the sentence “John went to the store, and he bought some apples,” “he” is the pronoun, and “John” is the antecedent. It is crucial to have proper agreement between pronouns and their antecedents to ensure that the sentence`s meaning is clear. In this article, we will discuss the importance of pronoun-antecedent agreement and ways to achieve it.

What is Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement?

Pronoun-antecedent agreement refers to the grammatical agreement between a pronoun and its antecedent in terms of number, gender, and person. The pronoun must match the antecedent in these categories. For example, if the antecedent is singular, the pronoun must be singular. If the antecedent is feminine, the pronoun must be feminine, and so on.

Importance of Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement

The primary reason to maintain proper pronoun-antecedent agreement is to avoid confusion or ambiguity in the sentence`s meaning. Suppose there is a mismatch between the pronoun and the antecedent. In that case, the reader may not be able to understand which noun the pronoun is supposed to refer to, leading to confusion or even misunderstanding. Additionally, it creates an unprofessional impression, indicating a lack of attention to detail.

Ways to Achieve Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement

1. Identify the antecedent:

It is crucial to identify the antecedent before replacing it with a pronoun in a sentence. This will ensure that the pronoun matches the correct noun. For example, in the sentence “The boy went to the park, and they played soccer,” “they” is unclear since it could refer to “the boy” or some other noun in the context. Instead, the sentence should be rewritten as “The boy went to the park and played soccer.”

2. Maintain gender and number consistency:

Ensure that the pronoun and antecedent are consistent in terms of gender and number. For example, in the sentence “A student must complete their homework on time,” the pronoun “their” is plural, while the antecedent “a student” is singular. The sentence can be corrected by replacing “their” with “his or her” or “his” or “her.”

3. Consider the person of the pronoun:

Ensure that the pronoun and antecedent match in terms of the person. For example, in the sentence “The teacher told us to complete our homework,” “us” is the first-person pronoun, while the antecedent “teacher” is third-person singular. Instead, the sentence should be rewritten as “The teacher told the students to complete their homework.”


Effective communication is essential in any language. Pronoun-antecedent agreement is a vital aspect of written communication. It ensures that the meaning of a sentence is clear and avoids confusion or ambiguity. By following the guidelines mentioned above, you can achieve proper pronoun-antecedent agreement and improve the clarity of your writing. As a copy-editor, it is essential to pay attention to such grammatical details to ensure that the writing is of the highest quality.

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