In general, a pronoun should refer to a particular word in the preceding sentence. Jane promised to clean up her room, which her mother didn’t believe for a minute. Pronouns must avoid being vague in what they reference: There are two common problems with vague pronouns. 1. b) Supply a specific antecedent for the pronoun. 1. Dr. Richard Nordquist is professor emeritus of rhetoric and English at Georgia Southern University and the author of several university-level grammar and composition textbooks. That problem is vague pronoun reference. A_____ When Pearl Buck was forty, her novel The Good Earth won the Pulitzer Prize. In these three sentences, the pronouns refer to the idea that Harry was always late, but they can’t logically refer back to … ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, Definiton and Examples of Faulty Pronoun Reference, Definition and Examples of Agreement in English Grammar, Personal Pronoun Definition and Examples in English, Definition and Examples of Pronoun Agreement, 100 Key Terms Used in the Study of Grammar, Definition and Examples of Referents in English Grammar, Definition and Examples of "Exophora" in English Grammar, Editing Exercise: Correcting Errors in Pronoun Reference, Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia, M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester, B.A., English, State University of New York. A pronoun may point back to other items in a text (anaphoric reference) or—less commonly—point ahead to a later part of the text (cataphoric reference). "The school board had to decide whether to spend $186,000 to sponsor permanent residency for the foreign teachers or let them go back to the Philippines and start the search all over again. Vague Pronoun Reference A pronoun without a specific antecedent. After the teacher gave Susan the paper, she walked away angrily. A vague pronoun reference might include words such as it, that, this, and which, and can leave the reader wondering what or to whom the pronoun refers. As a result, the reader cannot know for sure whether Kara sold the disk or the cabinet. In traditional grammar, a construction in which a pronoun doesn't refer clearly and unambiguously to its antecedent is called faulty pronoun reference. In English grammar, reference is the relationship between a grammatical unit (usually a pronoun) that refers to (or stands in for) another grammatical unit (usually a noun or noun phrase). Ambiguous Pronoun Reference A pronoun with multiple, possible antecedents. The noun or noun phrase that a pronoun refers to is called the antecedent. Such errors, called FAULTY or VAGUE PRONOUN REFERENCE, can confuse readers and obscure the intended meaning. "He started the car, put the heater on defrost and waited for the windshield to clear, feeling Marguerite's eyes on him. A pronoun is a part of speech that can replace a noun; its antecedent is the person, place, or thing to which the pronoun refers. 1. One occurs when there is more than one noun that the pronoun could refer to. Rewrite the sentence so that it is clear what the pronoun is referring to. "They decided to do, "If a baby does not thrive on raw milk, boil, "John Roberts once defended a serial murderer before he became chief justice of the Supreme Court.". It, this, and which are pronouns, and they need to refer back to a specific noun, not to the whole idea of a previous statement. A pronoun may point back to other items in a text (anaphoric reference) or—less commonly—point ahead to a later part of the text (cataphoric reference). Avoiding Vague and Ambiguous Pronoun References VOCABULARY Antecedent The noun which a pronoun substitutes for or refers to. 2. The pronoun reference is faulty here because the pronoun it has two antecedents. Improve your language arts knowledge with free questions in "Identify vague pronoun references" and thousands of other language arts skills. Exercise on Vague or Unclear Pronoun Reference In the following pairs of sentences, one sentence is correct, and the other sentence contains a vague or ambiguous pronoun reference. But when he finally turned to look at her, she was peering out the small patch of windshield that had defogged. Mark the CORRECT sentence. Eliminate a vague pronoun reference by the following methods: a) Recast the sentence to eliminate the pronoun. Example: Vague: The profits from the investment would be large, which I realized almost immediately. "As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality. The other occurs when a pronoun used refers to a word that is implied but not specifically stated. Vague Pronouns Each sentence below contains a vague pronoun reference. In traditional grammar, a construction in which a pronoun doesn't refer clearly and unambiguously to its antecedent is called faulty pronoun reference. The pronoun it does not have a clear noun antecedent. "An engaged woman is always more agreeable than a disengaged. 'I think it's going to clear,' she said.

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