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Basic Grammar and Punctuation

An AARC writing resource

Other Common Pronoun 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.

How To Check Pronouns

Pronouns are words that stand in for nouns. They act as substitute for the noun so you don't have to repeat the same noun over and over!

Learn all about pronouns on our Pronoun Review page. Check out the helpful links on this page for practice using pronouns. Below are some common pronoun errors and how to check for them.

Common Error #1: Unclear Reference

Since pronouns stand in place of a noun, who or what you're referring to needs to be clear. If there is any other way your pronoun could be interpreted, consider rewriting to be absolutely clear. 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?)

Common Error #2: Consistent Pronoun Usage

When several pronouns are used, it's easy to get confused about who is speaking. Be consistent in using the correct pronoun. This error primarily occurs when using the first-person pronoun (I), such as in personal narrative essays. 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?)

Common Error #3: Pronouns Agreeing in Number

A pronoun generally must agree in number with the noun or noun phrase it replaces. If the noun was singular, the pronoun should be singular, and if the noun was plural, the pronoun must be plural.  For example:

Wrong – Jack and Sam waited for delivery of the parts he ordered. (they is plural, but he is singular)

Right – Margaret showed her paintings at the exhibit. (Singular antecedent, singular pronoun.)

See the Evolving Plural Pronoun box for exceptions. To learn more about pronouns, check out our Pronoun Review page!