Archive for the '<pronoun/antecedent agreement>' Category

Britney Spears and Two Agreement Errors

June 12, 2006

In an interview with Matt Lauer, Britney Spears explained that neither the tabloids nor motherhood have taken their toll on her good spirits.

This sentence contains two errors: one in subject/verb agreement and one in pronoun/antecedent agreement. When correlative conjunctions, such as "neither" and "nor," are used in a sentence, the subject closer to the verb and the referent pronoun determines the number of those words. Crossing off everything from "neither" to "nor" may help in identifying the subject:

In an interview with Matt Lauer, Britney Spears explained that neither the tabloids nor motherhood have taken their toll on her good spirits.

Now that the first part of the subject has been crossed off, it is clear that the subject of the clause is "motherhood," which is singular, and that the verb ("have taken") and the referent pronoun ("their") are plural. Change the number of the verb and the referent pronoun so that they are in agreement with the subject of the clause.

In an interview with Matt Lauer, Britney Spears explained that neither the tabloids nor motherhood has taken its toll on her good spirits.

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.

Madonna and Two Errors in Agreement

May 18, 2006

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, who are in a salary dispute with the owners of the LA Forum, are planning to picket Madonna's concert in Los Angeles this weekend.

This sentence contains two types of errors in agreement: subject/verb agreement and pronoun/antecedent agreement.

The antecedent, "the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees," is an organization; names of organizations, groups, and name brands, as well as titles of works (books, paintings, plays, musical compositions), are singular. The verbs in this sentence, two instances of "are," are plural. To correct this sentence, change the number of the verbs.

An organization is a thing, so the pronoun "who" is incorrect. Change the pronoun to "which."

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which is in a salary dispute with the owners of the LA Forum, is planning to picket Madonna's concert in Los Angeles this weekend.

Naomi and an Error in Pronoun/Antecedent Agreement

May 15, 2006

The United Nations announced that Naomi Watts will be their new special envoy on HIV/AIDS.

This sentence contains an error in pronoun/antecedent agreement. The antecedent, "the United Nations," is an organization; names of organizations, groups, and name brands, as well as titles of works (books, paintings, plays, musical compositions), are singular.

To correct this sentence, change the number of the referent pronoun.

The United Nations announced that Naomi Watts will be its new special envoy on HIV/AIDS.