Pronouns and Antecedents

What are pronouns and antecedents?


Pronouns are words that take the place of a noun. For example, words like she, he, they, this, that and it are all pronouns.

An antecedent is the noun that a pronoun is referring to.


Still confused? This Khan Academy video will explain this part of grammar in more detail. The Purdue OWL also outlines some common mistakes to avoid with pronouns.

Now test your skills!

Quiz 1: Pronoun-Antecedent Relationship

The relationship between a pronoun and its antecedent must be clear. To achieve clarity, ensure that:

  • Each pronoun you use clearly refers to one antecedent; and
  • Each pronoun you use clearly refers to a stated antecedent.

Quiz 2: Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement

To achieve clarity and ensure that your sentence is grammatically correct, you should also ensure that each pronoun agrees with its antecedent in person and in number.

Quiz 3: Find the Ambiguous Pronouns!

Students often use pronouns that they think are clear but that readers find confusing. This is because, while the writer (hopefully) always knows what they’re referring to, the reader can’t look inside their brain to find out what an ambiguous pronoun is meant to be doing. This is why self-editing your work to ensure all pronouns are clear is so important.