Angelina, Brad, and an Error in Pronoun/Antecedent Agreement

June 12, 2006

A Namibian official announced that Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, and their children have left Africa. Their destination remains an enigma to reporters seeking to follow the family wherever they may go.

The second sentence contains an error in pronoun/antecedent agreement. The antecedent "family" is a collective noun that is singular in this context because the family is going as a single unit. The referent pronoun "they" is plural. Change the referent pronoun's number to singular to correct the error.

A Namibian official announced that Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, and their children have left Africa. Their destination remains an enigma to reporters seeking to follow the family wherever it may go.

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One Response to “Angelina, Brad, and an Error in Pronoun/Antecedent Agreement”


  1. I suppose in the case of writing for a newspaper or other publication such a thing becomes relevant, but in everyday speech it’s nearly impossible to get your grammar exactly right. In your head you think “group of people”. On paper group of people would probably be treated the same as “family” as in you’re referring to the group as a single entity therefore you have to use a corresponding singular noun verb or whatever (I’m guessing), but in your head you know you’re talking about several people so you automatically think in the plural and speak accordingly. Useful lesson though. I’m guilty of using “they” in the given example myself.


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