Speak good English: Get it correct (4)

BY: Junior Graphic

In our discussions of last week, we focused on the use of pronouns in sentences and how to avoid errors associated with these pronouns.

We said while pronouns help us avoid the repetition of the nouns we have already mentioned, we should do well to avoid ambiguity as we use the pronouns.

We should also make sure that the pronouns we use in place of the nouns agree with the nouns in gender, number and person.
Moreover, we said every pronoun we use must have an antecedent noun --- that is, a noun to which it refers.

Let's look at the following sentences:

1. I can't afford the prices being quoted by the supplier because it is too high.
2. The equipment in the laboratory must be replaced since they are obsolete.
3. The boy and his friend must know that he cannot have his way all the time.
4. The prices of items have gone up, but the fact that we can get it to buy is quite ok.
5. The demand on me to part with money is great and I cannot meet them.

For starters, let's say all the five sentences above are incorrect, grammatically speaking, because there are issues with the pronouns used.

In sentence 1, the pronoun it does not agree with its antecedent noun, prices.

Prices is plural, while the pronoun it is singular, which means that the noun and the pronoun do not agree in number.

We can even say that the pronoun it has no antecedent because there is no singular noun it refers to.

The correct sentence should be:

I can't afford the prices being quoted by the supplier because they are too high.

In sentence 2, we have the same problem of the lack of agreement between a  noun and its pronoun in terms of number.

The pronoun they, which is plural, does not agree with the noun equipment, which is singular.

The correct sentence should be:
The equipment in the laboratory must be replaced, since it is obsolete.

In sentence 3, we are faced with a  number of issues.

Apart from the fact that the pronoun he, which is singular, does not agree with the antecedent nouns the boy and his friend, which is plural, there is also the matter of ambiguity.

If we argue that the pronoun here refers to one of the friends, we still have to answer the question: which of them --- the boy or his friend?

 (To be continued.)