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SAT

Unit 11: Lesson 3

Writing: Grammar

Writing: Pronoun-antecedent agreement — Example

Watch Sal work through a harder pronoun-antecedent agreement question from the SAT Writing and Language Test.

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  • blobby green style avatar for user Furkan Erçelik
    Why isn't the answer ''that''? Can somebody explain to me? I know that the subject is plural...
    (9 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user James Townsend
      "That" is not grammatically incorrect, but only necessary when distinguishing the crate of bees from other crates. (This would be an example of the limiting use of the pronoun "that".)

      With the sentence as written, we know we're only dealing with one crate, so there is no need to further differentiate or single out the "crate of bees" from other crates by using the limiting pronoun "that". The use of the pronoun "It" is unambiguous in its reference to the single crate of bees.
      (33 votes)
  • purple pi purple style avatar for user glravali
    It sounds like it is the best answer, but could that work also if there is no it in the options? Or is that wrong because of some other reason?
    (3 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user evers1125
    I would argue that the subject "crate" becomes peripheral based on the destination. After all, you are not taking a 'crate' to animal control (you could take a crate anywhere) you are taking the Honey Bees. And thus, as living things they should take precedence. "Them" seems more apt.
    (2 votes)
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    • male robot hal style avatar for user KnightStryke
      Grammatically speaking, you are taking the crate of honeybees to animal control. It is introduced as a whole, singular thing (a crate of honeybees), and as such it is referred to in the singular tense. You aren't just grabbing a handful of bees and heading off to animal control, you're taking the whole crate of them. In this case, "it" encompasses both the crate and what's inside it, while "them" refers to only the bees.

      If it was a pair of raccoons, on the other hand, then that would be "I took them..."

      Make sense?
      (6 votes)
  • duskpin tree style avatar for user mansurmishal
    If the sentence would have started with "A swarm of honey bees", what would have been the pronoun?
    (1 vote)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Cordie
    “It” sounds like the best possible choice, but if the sentence was focused on only the honeybees, what would the answer be? “Them,” right?
    (1 vote)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user darknied
    i know its very obvious in this case, but how do we exactly know if it is referring to the crate and not the box? im asking because i remember some rule the subject closest the "it" or "they" or whatever is what "it" is referring to. I hope this question isn't confusing.
    (1 vote)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user sohaibanjum
    Hi, Could you please explain whether the following sentence is correct or not "The fashion designer’s creations, some of which are very radical, have earned him accolades from the city’s style icons".
    (1 vote)
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  • starky sapling style avatar for user Aaron Izaguirre
    So if we are talking about one thing, we need to use a singular word?
    (1 vote)
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  • starky tree style avatar for user rainbowthe1st
    what type of pronoun is "them"
    (1 vote)
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  • male robot donald style avatar for user larrykirkman13
    Why wouldn't the answer be them. It and them work in the sentence but them fits better. So why is "it" the answer?
    (0 votes)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user [SKLZ] EL PRO
      @ larrykirkman13,

      Them is grammatically incorrect because the pronoun should be referring to the crate. "of honey bees" is the prepositional phrase which describes "a crate". A crate is singular and therefore the pronoun should be "it". Them sounds better because it is used like this in everyday language and it is a very common error. It is like saying "It's me" instead of "It is I". "It is I" is grammatically correct, but in everyday language, we say "It's me".

      - EL PRO
      (2 votes)

Video transcript

- [Instructor] A crate of honeybees arrived at my house by accident, so I took them immediately to animal control. All right, so what is this pronoun them trying to refer to? 'Cause it might be tempting to say that it's referring to the honeybees, but the subject of this first part, this first clause of this sentence right over here, they didn't say honeybees arrived at my house. They say a crate of honeybees. So the subject here is actually singular, it's a crate, a crate, this right over here is singular. So when we use the pronoun, we also want the singular form. And you could try it out by replacing it with the word that it's referring to. A crate of honeybees arrived at my house by accident, so I took the crate immediately to animal control. So instead of the crate, I wouldn't say them, I would say it. I would replace the plural pronoun with the singular, with the singular pronoun. So I took it immediately to animal control. And this is a very, this is one that'll trip many people up many times because you see a singular thing that contains many things, and so you might say, okay, well, I'm talking about a lot of honeybees, so I'd wanna use plural. Well, that would be the case if we just said honeybees arrived at my house by accident, so I took them immediately to animal control. That would actually be okay, but we're not talking about honeybees arriving. We're talking about a crate, one crate of honeybees arriving. And so the pronoun here is referring to that one crate so it should be it.