fbpx

Speak good English (Pronouns)

BY: Hannah A Amoah

  Let's round off our discussions on the proper and correct use of pronouns by recapping what we have so far said concerning pronouns.
Remember that pronouns are words used in place of nouns in order not to repeat those nouns, since repeating the nouns will make what we say or write boring and repetitive.
If we don't use pronouns,  we may end up with a sentence such as:
A boy met a girl at a party and the boy gave the girl the boy's phone number and asked the girl to call the boy when the girl had time.
Obviously, this sentence is repetitive and even disturbs the ears.
With the proper use of pronouns, we have:


A boy met a girl at a party and he gave her his phone number and asked her to call him when she had time.
We have said that although pronouns help us avoid repeating nouns in sentences, in situations where using a pronoun will lead to ambiguity or the possibility of what is said or written giving more than one meaning, we have to repeat nouns.
For instance, in the sentence:
A woman beat up her daughter because she was drunk.
the use of the pronoun she leads to ambiguity because it could refer to either the woman or her daughter, since both are feminine.
In such a situation, it is better and more appropriate to repeat the noun to which the pronoun she refers, so that we can have the sentence either as:
A woman beat up her daughter because the girl was drunk.
or
A woman beat up her daughter because the woman was drunk.
Many people,  including even the most educated, are so attached to the use of pronouns that they usually fail to see the incomprehensible sentences they come up with when they use pronouns.
We have also said that every pronoun you use must have an antecedent --- a noun it refers to.
Sometimes we form sentences containing pronouns that don't have antecedents or nouns to which the pronouns refer.
This happens because:
the pronouns used don't agree with their antecedent nouns in gender or number,  as in the following examples:
1. You cannot take the books away because it is not mine.
(The pronoun it has no antecedent because it is singular, while books is plural.)
The correct sentence should be:
You can't take the books away because they are not mine.
2. A man must must know at what point they must end a joke.
(The pronoun their has no antecedent because it is plural, while the noun man is singular.)
The correct sentence should be:
A man must know at what point he must end a joke.