A pronoun must match, or agree, with its antecedent.
Definition:Ante (not anti) means before. The root cedere means to go. The antecedent goes before the pronoun. It is the noun the pronoun replaced.
You can be sure a noun is the antecedent if you can put it back in place of the pronoun.
My mother gave me her bracelet.
My mother gave me my mother's bracelet.
Pronouns must match their antecedents in number, person, and gender.
Number – Singular nouns must match with singular pronouns. Plural nouns must match with plural pronouns.
The man brought his dog, and the girl brought her dogs.
If two nouns are joined with the conjunction and, use a plural pronoun. If they are joined by or or nor, use a pronoun that matches the last noun.
John and Randy brought their books to class.
John or Randy brought his book to class.
Mrs. Justin or her students brought their books to class.
The students or Mrs. Justin brought her book to class.
Person – When writing about yourself, use I, me, we, or us. When writing to someone, use you. When writing about someone else, use he, she, it, him, her, they, them.
Please bring me a cookie when you come from the kitchen.
Gender – When writing about men, use he and him. When writing about women, use she and her. If you don't know the gender, use he or she, him or his, or his or her. Only use their if the antecedent is plural.
Using their instead of his or her is becoming acceptable in spoken English, but make sure to use his or her in written English. An easy way to fix this problem is to make the subject plural.
The man found his missing shoe, and the woman found her missing shoe.
A new doctor must pass his or her certification exam before getting a license.
New doctors must pass their certification exams before getting licenses.
Practice What You've Learned
Click on the noun(s) that is(are) the antecedent(s) of the bold-faced pronoun.