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Pronoun-antecedent agreement

An antecedent is “the thing that came before”. When you use a pronoun, it’s standing in for a word you used previously—that’s the antecedent. Join us as we demonstrate how to make sure that your pronouns and antecedents match up with one another: that’s called agreement! 

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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Hello Grammarians, hello visiting cousin Beth. - [Voiceover] Hello cousin David. - [Voiceover] So today we're gonna be talking about pronoun-antecedent agreement. - [Voiceover] And what is that? - [Voiceover] An antecedent is a thing that goes before. So ante, mean before, and cedent, is like a going-ee thing. What I mean by that is that if we're talking about, if we setup something in a sentence. So okay, we've got a sentence like Jillian rode her bike to the grocery store. Fine, straight up sentence, pretty ordinary. If we wanna refer to Jillian again, but we want to use a pronoun, well, we refer to Jillian as she. That's a women's name, so she. She bought some garlic and a spoon, like you normally would when you go to the grocery store. When we talk about this pronoun she, in relation to this word, this proper noun Jillian, Jillian is the antecedent, is the thing that goes before the pronoun she, so that whenever you use a pronoun, you are referring back to something else, the thing that went before, the antecedent, the thing that has come previously. So you want to make sure that these things match up. So for example, we know from living in this culture, that Jillian is a women's name, so it would probably be incorrect to refer to her has he. Jillian rode her bike to the grocery store, he bought some garlic and a spoon. This sounds like we're talking about someone else. So even within this initial sentence too, Jillian rode her bike to the grocery store. We're referring back to Jillian using this possessive pronoun to define the bicycle. - [Voiceover] Because it's a longer sentence. - [Voiceover] We're using it to demonstrate the relationship between Jillian and the bicycle. - [Voiceover] Gotcha. - [Voiceover] You also wanna to make sure that pronouns and their antecedent agree in number, so if you said, what's a fun animal? - [Voiceover] Monkeys. - [Voiceover] Monkeys. So the monkeys threw snowballs, but they had crummy aim. So we're using they to refer back to the monkeys, so this thing is a plural noun, right? We're referring to multiple monkeys, so it would be incorrect to say the monkeys threw snowballs, but it had crummy aim, because this makes it seem like we're talking about one monkey, when in fact, we're talking about an army of snowball chucking monkeys. We got our little monkey, maybe a calobus or diana monkey. Got a little tuft, it's throwing a snowball. And if that's an Old World monkey, it probably doesn't have a fancy tail, this one has a little tail. Let's say we have a whole bunch of them, we want to make sure that we are operating under the standards of agreement. Beth, any questions? - [Voiceover] So you can't have it anymore, because now you've got four monkeys. - [Voiceover] Right, let me get rid of that. What should it be instead Beth? - [Voiceover] They, because they is plural, and we don't know if they're he's or she's. - [Voiceover] And even if we didn't, they kind of eliminates any kind of gender distinction. - [Voiceover] Oh right. - [Voiceover] So the monkeys threw snowballs, but they had crummy aim. Although these monkeys seem to be doing pretty good at hitting each others in the heads, the tails, with their snowballs. So that's pronoun-antecedent agreement. So remember to make sure to line things up when relevant by gender. Jillian wrote her bike, she bought some garlic and a spoon. And by number, so the monkeys threw snowballs, but they had crummy aim. There's more than one monkey, so you'd wanna use the plural third person pronoun. You can learn anything. David out. - [Voiceover] And Beth out.