Online Tutor For English


Online Tutor For English


Confusing Pronoun References


Pronouns are the words that take the place of nouns or refer to nouns. Errors in using pronouns occur when it is not clear what noun the pronoun refers to. This happens in two situations: when more than one noun comes before the noun; when there is no noun before the pronoun.

Pronouns with more than one preceding noun:

Read the following example. Who's entering the room?

Cindy glanced at Tammy as she entered the room.

To which noun does the pronoun she refer? You can't tell whether it is Cindy or Tammy. This sentence is an example of an unclear reference.

There are different ways to correct sentences with unclear pronoun references. Here are two ways to correct the example:

Cindy glanced at Tammy when Cindy entered the room.

As she entered the room, Cindy glanced at Tammy.

Here is another example of a sentence with an unclear pronoun reference.

Confusing: I'm reading a digital article in this this newspaper, which is very good.

What is very good? The digital article or the newspaper?

Clear: I'm reading a very good digital article in this newspaper.

Pronouns without a preceding noun:

Sometimes pronouns are used without any noun preceding them.

After we put seeds in the bird feeder, they never came around.

What is probably meant in this sentence is that the birds never came around. But it is clear only, if the noun reference is used in the second sentence.

After we put seeds in the bird feeder, the birds never came around.

Another common mistake is to use a pronoun to refer to a general idea. For example:

The Smiths give a lot money to charity; this generosity is admirable.

Here, which refers to generally giving money to charity. However, the pronouns should refer to specific nouns to avoid confusion.

One more common problem occurs with the use of pronouns like they, you, and it.

They say that too much salt is not good for you.

Who are they? Who is you? Notice how the following sentence makes the meaning more exact.

Health experts say that too much salt is bad for people.




© 2014 Copy Rights Reserved at Online Tutor For English

Online Resources Add Link

English Grammar

Articles, a-an, the

Adjectives and Adverbs

Appositives in Complete Sentence

Complete Sentence



Parts of Speech

Passive Voice


Parallel Structure


Present Perfect Tense

Present Perfect Continuous Tense


Irregular Verbs

English Writing Lessons

How to Write a Good Sentence

An Example of a Four-Paragraph Essay

An Example of a Three-Paragraph Essay

How to Write a Good Paragraph

How to Write a Business Letter

Examples of a Well-Written Paragraph

Steps to Write a Three-Paragraph Essay

How to Write a Good Main Topic Sentence

How to Write Good Supporting Sentences

Recommendations for Writing a Good Paragraph

Writing Resources

Advertise with us

Online Writing Tutorials 25 USD!

English Tutors Directory

English Tutor Plans

Spoken English Tutor, FAQ

English Writing Tutor, FA

Spoken English, Writing Program Online


English Conversation Lessons

English Writing Lessons

Business English

TOEFL Preparation

SAT English

Author Articles



Are you a US Native English Tutor

If you are, please register first using the Registration Form. Then see our guidelines to send your resume.





We answer English Language Questions