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Pronoun clarity | Worked example

Watch David work through a pronoun clarity question from the Praxis Core Writing test.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] Although both the Hudson Valley in New York and Gilroy, California are the sites of garlic festivals, it only has one performance stage. So let's go through these underlines one by one and see if they contain an error. So, what we know about the world although, our option A, it is a subordinating conjunction which means it sets off a dependent clause, so where does the dependent clause begin? Here's our subject, Hudson Valley, Gilroy, California, are the sites of garlic festivals, and then we've got a comma that ends a dependent clause, this is okay if it's connected to an independent clause. So we've got this other thing here, it has one performance stage. This is an independent clause, this could be a sentence on its own, this is fine. Something that I discovered while reading this aloud, both, the Hudson Valley, and Gilroy, California, are, right, so this is a plural subject, corresponding to a plural verb, which means that on the grounds of numerical agreement for verbs, this checks out so we wanna see if this underlined verb are, also agrees in tense with other verbs in the sentence or the time period of the sentence and we see here we have has, which is also in the present tense so this isn't an error either. Now this comma, we've already established that this bracket here is a dependent clause connecting to an independent clause, and this is how you would use a comma in this case. You use a comma to staple together a dependent clause like although both the Hudson Valley in New York and Gilroy, California are the sites of garlic festivals, to an independent clause like it only has one performance stage. So this is fine also. So this leaves us to consider it or no error. Let me clean this up a little bit. So what are we looking at when we're looking at it. It is a pronoun, it's a singular pronoun, but we've established that the previous clause has a plural subject. Hudson Valley in New York, and Gilroy, California are the sites of garlic festivals. So my question is, what is it referring to? And since this is an error ID question, we don't have to know the answer to that. We don't have to know which garlic festival has only one performance stage. But that pronoun ambiguity, since it's a singular pronoun, which could have multiple possible antecedents, it could be, the garlic festival in the Hudson Valley, or the garlic festival in Gilroy, this is our answer. This kind of pronoun ambiguity is an error we're being tested on. So a general guide for potential pronoun trouble is if you see a pronoun underlined, the first thing to do would be to check for antecedents of any kind, and then once you've identified the antecedent or antecedents, ask yourself, does it make sense? We have the singular pronoun that just doesn't match with these plural antecedents and that means that either these are wrong or it is wrong. But Hudson Valley and Gilroy, California aren't underlined, they're not options, they're baked into the sentence. So a quick check anytime you have an underlined pronoun will tell you whether or not there's an error. Does it match with its antecedents in number, in gender, or does it create an ambiguity? And if it does, there's your answer.