(see also Subject-Verb agreement)

Pronouns can be classified according to how they are used in sentences. Such classification can help in determining the appropriate pronoun to choose in certain situations. The following chart identifies these pronouns and how they function:

Used as
Used as
Used as
Imy, mineme
weour, oursus
youyour, yoursyou
sheher, hersher
theytheirtheirs, them

Most of the time, choosing the appropriate pronoun presents few problems, but a couple of situations should be noted.

-- Pronouns in compound constructions

Each of the pronouns in the following sentences is used as the object of the verb:

The judge gave John and me a vote of confidence.
After the show, the reporter interviewed him and his father.

To determine which pronoun form is correct in the above examples, omit the other element and select the pronoun that sounds appropriate to complete the sentence.

The judge gave me a vote of confidence.
After the show, the reporter interviewed him.

-- Pronouns in prepositional phrases

Pronouns that appear in prepositional phrases are always object pronouns.

The judge awarded the novice trophy to Jim and me.
The battle for top sales team was between us and them.

-- Pronouns following linking verbs

Pronouns that appear following linking verbs (forms of the verb to be) are always "subject" pronouns. That means the order of the sentence could be reversed with the pronoun functioning as the subject of the sentence.

The person who has to decide is I, not you. (I am the person who has to decide, not you.)
The hosting chapters for the spring convention will be either we or Springfield. (We ... will be the hosting chapter for the spring convention.)

-- Pronoun/appositive noun constructions

If a noun immediately follows either the pronoun "we" or "us" and this noun renames the pronoun, then imagine as if the appositive noun were omitted.

Select the pronoun that sounds appropriate.

We tenors will supply the beverages for the picnic.
(We will supply ... )
The director told us basses to sing brightly, not darkly.
(The director told us to sing ... )

-- Who/Whom?

In situations involving choices between who/whom or whoever/whomever, rephrase the sentence by replacing the troublesome pronoun with "he" for who/whoever ("subject" pronouns) or "him" for whom/whomever ("object" pronouns). Select either who or whom based on whether the similar pronouns he or him are grammatically appropriate in the sentence. (Remember: The "m" in "him" matches with "whom.") For example:

Who gave you this arrangement? (Did he give you this arrangement?)
Whom did you contact about the show date? (Did you contact him about the show date?)
The man who arranged the song had little formal training. (He arranged the song.)
You may invite whomever you like to guest night. (You may invite him.)
Scholarships to Harmony College are awarded to whoever applies first. (He applies first.)

In the last example, if the pronoun is preceded by a preposition, always begin the rephrasing with the pronoun in question. Ignore the rest of the sentence.

Al Jolson is the performer about whom the movie "The Jazz Singer" was made. (The movie "The Jazz Singer" was made about him.)

-- Pronoun--antecedent agreement

A pronoun should agree with the noun it replaces in terms of number. This means that if a pronoun stands for a singular noun, then the pronoun should also be singular; if the pronoun stands for a plural noun, the pronoun should be plural. For example:

John forgot his uniform.
The tenors lost their place.

In the first example, the singular pronoun his replaces the singular noun John; in the second, the plural pronoun their replaces the plural noun tenors.

In other words, the pronouns and their antecedents (words that come before) agree in form.

-- Indefinite pronouns

Problems in agreement arise because some classes of words are not clearly singular or plural. Words in one such group are called indefinite pronouns. The following is a list of most of the indefinite pronouns. They are considered singular:

no onenonebodyanybody
nobody         somebody         everybody         

Because the above indefinite pronouns are considered singular, the following sentences illustrate correct agreement:

None of the invited guests could find his place.
Somebody should know better than to leave his music on the chair.
Each of the wives was given her own special memento.

The following indefinite pronouns are considered to be plural; therefore, each requires a plural antecedent.

several        few        both        many

Several were missing their cummerbunds.
Only a few were unable to share their memories.

The following indefinite pronouns may be singular or plural depending on the context of the sentence. Each is singular if it refers to a total quantity; each is plural if it refers to a number of individual items that can be counted.

some        most        all        none        any

Some of the scenery was destroyed in the fire. (quantity)
Some of the tickets were destroyed in the fire. (number)

Most of our show is hilarious. (quantity)
Most of our singers are excellent musicians. (number)

All of the performance was a sheer delight. (quantity)
All of the seats in the auditorium were filled. (number)

-- Plural antecedents

Two or more singular antecedents joined by the words "or" or "nor" should be made to agree with a singular pronoun.

Either Jack or Hal hums his part first.
Neither the president nor the membership VP knows what has happened to his COTS registration form.

Two or more singular antecedents joined by the word and should be made to agree with a plural pronoun.

Jack, Herman, and Joe receive their membership cards tonight.
Both he and I demand our money back.

-- Collective nouns

Determining agreement with collective nouns, or names of units (chorus, committee, council), may be a problem because whether they are singular or plural depends on the context of the sentence.

If the intent is that the collective noun operates as a single unit, then the antecedent should be singular.

The chorus did its best, but it fell short of its goal.
After the contest, the quartet had its picture taken.

If the intent is that the collective noun identifies one or more individuals within the group so that it doesn't operate as a single unit, then the antecedent should be plural.

The chorus rushed to their places on the risers as soon as the break was over.
After the contest, the quartet took their uniforms to the dry cleaners.

In the first set of examples, the collective nouns chorus and quartet are operating as single units and require singular pronouns. In the second set of examples, these same collective nouns are presented in such a way that the reader's focus is on the individuals within the group rather than on the group itself; therefore, a plural antecedent is needed.

The same rule applies for names of specific groups:

The Future 2000 committee held its annual meeting in Kenosha.
The Future 2000 committee debated their positions on admitting women as full Society members.

Chiefs of Staff made its first appearance back in 1984.
Chiefs of Staff displayed their medals proudly around their necks.

The Alexandria Harmonizers gave its best performance at the Kennedy Center last Friday.
The Alexandria Harmonizers looked sharp in their new white cutaway tuxedos.


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