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Basic Grammar and Punctuation

An AARC writing resource

How To Check Pronouns

Below are some common pronoun errors and how to check for them. For more on what pronouns are, see the Review page in the pull-down menu on the Pronoun tab.

Pronoun Error #1:

Since pronouns stand in place of a noun, it must be clear which antecedent you are referring to. For example:

James told Mike his bike had been stolen. (Whose bike was stolen?)

She put her lunch and purse on the table and began to eat it(What did she eat: lunch, purse, or table?)

When the plane landed, they told me the next flight was late. (who is they?)

Pronoun Problem #2:

When several pronouns are used, it's easy to get confused about who is speaking. Be consistent in using the correct pronoun. For example:

Every time I go to the mall, the parking lot is so crowded you circle round and round for parking. (I is speaking; who is you?)

My boyfriend and I like camping, but you have to be prepared for mosquitoes. (We like camping; who is you?)

Other common errors:

1) Pronouns used with a preposition are always objective. 

Wrong – These plans must stay between you and I.

Right – The plans for the surprise party must be kept a secret from him and me because I cannot keep secrets.

2) Never use myself in place of I or me.

Wrong – I thought the prize should have gone to myself.

Right – I thought the prize should have gone to me.

3) Don’t use a pronoun when you’ve already stated the noun.

Wrong – For example Nacogdoches, it has many trails.

Right – Nacogdoches has many trails.