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Be Certain That Pronouns Agree with Their Antecedents
in Number, Person, and Gender
Pronoun agreement refers to consistency
between the pronoun and its antecedent in these
Number (singular or plural)
Person (first, second, or third person)
Gender (male, female, or neutral)
In addition, relative pronouns must agree
with their antecedents in one other way: human
or person pronouns must be used to
refer to people, and non-person or thing
pronouns must be used to refer to things other
for agreement in number.
Certain words must always be referred to by singular
or plural pronouns, as in the following examples:
Everybody is invited to choose
his or her own research topic.
Some of the managers are being
asked to bring their departmental reports
to the meeting. (plural)
Much of the work is finished,
but it is in draft form. (singular)
The company is selling its
old equipment to interested employees. (singular)
As the workers punched in, they
learned about the strike plans. (plural)
The most obvious gender-agreement error would
be to refer to a man as "she" or to a woman as
"he." But few people make such obvious errors.
The more subtle gender-agreement errors have to
do with using all masculine pronouns (he, him,
his) or all feminine pronouns (she, her)
to refer to antecedents such as managers, secretaries,
workers, one, and so on-antecedents that are
neutral in terms of gender.