Hi! I’m Kathy Ide. In addition to being a published author, I’m a full-time professional freelance editor. For CAN, I’m blogging about “PUGS”–Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling … tips for writers based on the most common mistakes I see in the manuscripts I edit. These are excerpts from my new book, Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors, which reveal how multi-published authors proofread their manuscripts to avoid typos, inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and PUGS errors. (The book is available from Amazon.) If you’re interested in working with a freelance editor (or know someone who is), e-mail me through the contact page of my website. Or go to the Christian Editor Connection to get referrals to other established, professional editorial freelancers. If you’re a freelance editor yourself, or think you might be interested in that field, check out The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network.
Pronoun/Antecedent Agreement: Part Two
The antecedent is the noun to which a pronoun refers. The antecedent may appear in the same sentence as the pronoun or in an earlier one; occasionally, it comes after.
There are some pronoun-antecedent rules to watch for in your writing. Last month I shared the first three rules. Here are two more.
4. Avoid using the word it in confusing contexts.
As Allison drove her car up to the service window, it made a rattling sound.
Does it refer to the car or the window? Rewrite to something like “As Allison drove up to the service window, her car made a rattling sound.”
Audrey reached for her glass and drank it in one gulp.
In this sentence, the it refers to the glass, and she didn’t drink the glass in one gulp.
5. Most of the time, the subject pronoun of a phrase or sentence refers to the subject noun of the previous phrase or sentence, while the object pronoun refers to the object noun.
Stephanie told Nancy about the book signing. Then she told her about the potluck.
“She” refers to Stephanie (subject), and “her” refers to Nancy (object).
This rule of thumb does not apply if the identity of the pronoun is obvious.
MaryLynn told Daniel she wouldn’t eat caviar. He told her he never ate shellfish.
In next month’s blog, I will address the common problem of using plural pronouns with singular nouns—something a lot of writers do in order to avoid gender bias (using he to refer to both sexes) or the annoying repetition of him/her, he or she, and the like. I’ll reveal and illustrate 10 techniques to accomplish this goal without violating the rules of proper grammar.