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Course: SAT > Unit 11

Lesson 3: Writing: Grammar

Writing: Pronoun Agreement — Video Lesson

David shows you how to approach a Pronoun Agreement question on the SAT Writing and Language test. Created by David Rheinstrom.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] We are looking at question 44 today. So I'm gonna read back a sentence or two and start here at job-sharing. "Job-sharing initiatives may involve "some extra cost for companies, "since the salaries and cost of benefits "for two job-sharing employees are usually higher "than being for a single employee. "However, proponents contend "that the investment is worthwhile "because they enable companies to retain "the most talented employees." Let's take a look at our choices. We've got A, no change, so they enable, B, those enable, C any of them enables, and D, it enables. So these choices are all different kinds of pronouns. Some of them are plural, some are singular. And this is there for a pronoun agreement question. You'll see one or two of these on your SAT. Pronouns, you'll recall, stand in for nouns, and we need to find the antecedent, the noun the pronoun is referring back to. Pronouns and the nouns they refer to have to match. A singular pronoun needs to refer to a singular noun, just as a plural pronoun must refer to a plural noun. For example, we use the singular pronouns he, or she, or it, or that to refer to singular things, and the plural pronouns, they, or these, or those to refer to plural things. So top tip number one is find that antecedent. A pronoun has to refer to something, find that something and identify whether or not it's singular or plural. And this can get complicated when there are multiple nouns in a sentence. Let's look at an example. "Rock Creek Park, one of DC's many national parks, "has a variety of trails to explore "within their 2000 plus acres of land." You see, even though it's close to the plural nouns trails and parks, this pronoun logically refers to Rock Creek Park, which is a singular noun. So there should be changed to its. "Rock Creek Park, one of DC's many national parks "has a variety of trails to explore "within its 2000 plus acres of land." Let's head back to the passage. If you want, pause the video now to attempt this question yourself. All right, let's get to it. So first things first, let's find the antecedent for the pronoun. What is the noun that this pronoun is logically referring to? Is it the proponents or is it the investment? What are the subject and main verb of the sentence? Proponents are contending. Okay, so far so good. But hold up, by using they, the underlined part is implying that the proponents are also doing the enabling, but that's not right. It is the investment that is worthwhile, because the investment enables companies to retain the most talented employees. Proponents is plural and investment is singular. And that means that we need an it and not a they. That means any plural pronoun in the choices is automatically out. So they is out, goodbye choice A. And those in choice B is also a plural pronoun, so choice B is gone too. Choice C, any of them enables. Let's plug that back into the sentence. "However, proponents contend "that the investment is worthwhile "because any of them enables companies "to retain the most talented employees." Who would the them be in the sentence? It just sounds awkward to me. And we're looking for a choice that fixes the pronoun agreement error, and makes it clear that the investment enables companies to retain employees. So therefore, choice C is no good. But choice D, does that simply and elegantly. And on the SAT writing and language test, simpler and more direct, concise language is almost always the better choice. That went pretty quickly. Let's review our strategy for questions like these. Once you've identified a pronoun agreement question, one, hunt for the antecedent, is it singular or plural? Then, two, knock out any number mismatches. And three, check the context, what pronoun works best for the situation?