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Chapter 6 — Case and Agreement

Chapter 6 — Case and Agreement

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Chapter 6 — Case and Agreement

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  1. Chapter 6—Case and Agreement This chapter covers pronoun case, pronoun-antecedent agreement, and subject-verb agreement. Many writers have no problems with these topics, but certain aspects can be tricky. Adapted From My Dog Bites the English Teacher, Practical Grammar Made Quick and Easy, by Marian Anders

  2. Pronouns • A pronoun is a word that replaces another word: • Superman is faster than a speeding bullet. • He is more powerful than a locomotive. • He can leap tall buildings in a single bound. • Heis the pronoun that replacesthe word Superman.

  3. Superman is the antecedent (ant-eh-SEE-dent). • The prefix ante means before, so the antecedent is the word that comes before the pronoun. • The antecedent is the word that the pronoun is replacing.

  4. When you’re writing, make sure that your reader can easily identify the antecedent for each pronoun. • Sue, Sally, and Samantha went rollerblading. • She fell and broke her wrist. • In the second sentence, the pronoun is she, but the antecedent is unclear. You can’t tell which woman fell. • In this type of sentence, use the person’s name instead of a pronoun. • Sue, Sally, and Samantha went rollerblading. • Sally fell and broke her wrist.

  5. Getting tricky… • This type of mistake is called unclear pronoun reference because it is unclear to which the reader which word the pronoun is referring.

  6. Did you know? • We use the prefix ante all the time: I woke up at 7 a.m. • The abbreviation a.m. stands for ante meridian. • Antemeans before and meridian means middle of the day or noon. • The abbreviation p.m. stands for post meridian. • Postmeans after noon.

  7. Pronoun Case • Pronouns can be tricky because we have different forms of the pronoun that need to be used for different functions in a sentence. • This is calledpronoun case.

  8. If the pronoun is serving as the subject of the sentence, we use subjective case: • I took my dog with me. • If the pronoun is showing ownership, we use possessive case: • I took my dog with me. • If the pronoun comes at the end of a clause or phrase, we typically use objective case: • I took my dog with me. • These three pronouns—I, my, me—all refer to the same person: ME! • But I needed all three words in the sentence because eachpronoun was serving a differentfunction.

  9. If you mix up the cases, the sentence will sound funny: • Me took I dog with my.

  10. If English is your first language, you automatically use the correct case for pronouns most of the time: • You took your dog with you. • He took his dog with him. • She took her dog with her. • We took our dog with us. • They took their dog with them.

  11. You don’t often hear people say: • Me washed the car. • Him washed the car. • You can ride to the game with I. • You can ride to the game with he.

  12. But when a sentence has two names together, choosing the correct case isnot so easy. • You may often hear people say: • Me and Mike washed the car. • Mike and him washed the car. • You can ride to the game with Joe and I. • You can ride to the game with he and Joe. ALL INCORRECT!

  13. Choosing the Correct Case • To choose the correct pronoun case in a sentence with another name, leave out the name, and you will know which pronoun sounds right: • Sheila went shopping with Rachel and (I or me)? • Leave out Rachel’s name to see what sounds right. • Sheila went shopping with I. • That doesn’t sound right. • Sheila went shopping with me. • Yes, that’s right. Now put Rachel’s nameback in: • Sheila went shopping with Rachel and me.

  14. Here’s another one: • (He or him?) and Joel won the tennis championship. • Leave out Joel’s name to see what sounds right. • Him won the tennis championship. • That doesn’t sound right. • He won the tennis championship. • Yes, that’s right. Now put Joel’s name back in: • He and Joel won the tennis championship.

  15. Use the same process if the sentence has two pronouns: • (He or she?) and (I or me?) decorated the room. • Leave out the second set of pronouns to see which word sounds right in the first set. • Her decorated the room. • That doesn’t sound right. • She decorated the room. • That’s right. Now you can choose the second pronoun by leaving out the first one: • Me decorated the room. • That doesn’t sound right. • I decorated the room. • That’s right. Now put them both together. • She and I decorated the room.

  16. PRACTICE

  17. Pronoun Agreement • What’s wrong with this sentence? • John went rock climbing, and she pulled a muscle. • John is a man and doesn’t want to be called she. • John went rock climbing, and they pulled a muscle. • John is one person, and the word they makes him sound like more than one.

  18. A pronoun needs to agree with or match its antecedent. • It needs to agree in terms of gender (John is a man; don’t call him she), and it needs to match in terms of number (John is one person; don’t call him they). Singular Indefinite Pronouns Everyone someone anyone no one Everybody somebody anybody nobody Each either neither • These pronouns are called indefinite because they don’t refer to a specific person. Most important they are allsingular.

  19. It seems as if the wordeveryone would be plural because it refers to a lot people. But everyone refers to one group of people. • If you replace one of these words with another pronoun, you must use a singular pronoun such as he or she, not the plural pronouns they or their.

  20. You will hear people replacesingular indefinite pronouns withthe plural words they or their all the time. • Everyone sneezes when they have a cold. • Somebody left their lights on. • Did anybody lose their keys? • Even though these sentences sound fine, they are not really correct.

  21. The following sentences are correct because the singular indefinite pronouns have been replaced by singular words: • Everyone sneezes when he or she has a cold. • Somebody left his or her lights on. • Did anybody lose his or her keys? • Perhaps the reason we have become so accustomed to using they and their is that he or she and his or her can sound awkward.

  22. Here are three ways to write a smoother sentence and still use the correct pronouns……

  23. First Method: • If the indefinite pronoun is referring only to men or women, you can use the masculine or feminine pronoun. • Coach speaking to NFL football players: • “Everybody should wear his red uniform.” • Leader speaking to a Girl Scout troop: • “Anyone who wants to go should sign her name on the list.”

  24. Second Method: • Keep the word they or their but replace the singular indefinite pronoun with a plural word, such as people. • Incorrect: Everyone sneezes when they have a cold. • Correct: People sneeze when they have a cold.

  25. Third Method: • Revise the sentence to avoid the problem altogether. • Incorrect: Somebody left their lights on. • Correct: There is a red van in the parking lot with its lights on. • Incorrect: Did anybody lose their keys? • Correct: We found a set of keys in the break room.

  26. Pronouns with Compound Antecedents • Sometimes one pronoun can replace two names. When the two names are joined by and, the pronoun should be plural. • Pam brushed her teeth. • Pam and Sue brushed their teeth.

  27. When the two names are joined byorornor, the pronoun should match thename closest to it in the sentence. • Tom will bring hisguitar. • Either Tom or Tim will bring hisguitar. • The scouts couldn’t find their way. • The leader couldn’t find hisway. • Neither the scouts nor the leader could find hisway. • Neither the leader nor the scouts could find their way. • As you can see, the last two sentences are essentially the same. The only difference is which antecedent is closest to the pronoun.

  28. Try this sentence: • Max and Sam rode (his – their) bikes to the store. • What is the antecedent for this pronoun? • Max and Sam. • Because we have the word and between the two names, we need to use the plural pronoun their. • Max and Sam rode their bikes to the store. • Trick: If you know the antecedent is plural, but you’re still not sure which pronoun to choose, try replacing the antecedent with the plural word they. • They rode their bikes to the store.

  29. Here’s another sentence: • Neither Max nor Sam brought (his – their) money. • What is the antecedent? • Max nor Sam. • Because the word nor comes between the names, match the pronoun to the name that is closest to the pronoun: Sam. • Sam brought hismoney. • Neither Max nor Sam brought his money. • Trick: If you know the antecedent is singular, but you’re still not sure which pronoun to choose, try replacing the antecedent with the singular word he. • He brought his money.

  30. Here’s a third sentence: • Either my boyfriend or his roommates with give up (his – their) Saturday to help me move. • What is the antecedent? • My boyfriend or his roommates. • Because the word or comes between the names, match the pronoun to the name that is closest to the pronoun: roommates. • His roommates will give up theirSaturday. • Either my boyfriend or his roommates will give up their Saturday to help me move.

  31. Pronouns Separated from their Antecedents • Words that come in between the antecedent and the pronoun might cause you to choose the wrong pronoun. • One of the tightrope walkers lost her balance. • Here the antecedent is one. One lost her balance. But the prepositional phrase of the tightrope walkers might throw you off. • You might match the pronoun to thewalkers: • One of the tightrope walkers lost theirbalance. X

  32. Putting parentheses around prepositional phrases can help you find the correct antecedent. • One (of the tightrope walkers) lost herbalance. • Two (of the tightrope walkers) lost their balance.

  33. Remember: A preposition is word that tells what a cat can do with a chair: in, under, over, beside, etc. • A prepositional phraseis a group of words that starts with a preposition and then has a couple more words to complete the idea.

  34. PRACTICE

  35. Subject-Verb Agreement • Just as a pronoun needs to agree with its antecedent, the subject and the verb of a sentence must agree with or match each other. • You will be glad to know thatthe rules for subject-verb agreement are identical to the rules for pronoun agreement, so this information will be familiar.

  36. Singular subjects take singular verbs: • Maxeats candy. • Sueeatscandy. • Heeats candy. • Sheeats candy. • All these subjects are singular, just one person, and the verb eats sounds right.

  37. Now let’s look at some plural subjects that take plural verbs: • Maxand Sueeat candy. • Theyeat candy. • With plural subjects, the verb eat sounds right.

  38. Usually it is easy to choose the verb that will agree with its subject, but certain tricky situations can give writers trouble, and these are the same situations we learned about for pronoun agreement.

  39. Hooray! One type of tricky situation that we WON’T have to deal with here is singular indefinite pronouns. • Writers automatically use a singular verb with these subjects: • Everyone eats candy. • No one eats candy.

  40. Subject-Verb Agreement with Compound Subjects • Sometimes two subjects share one verb. • When the two subjects are joined by and, the verb should be plural. • Billwashes his car. • Tomwashes his car. • Billand Tomwash their cars.

  41. When the two subjects are joinedby orornor, the verb should match the subject closest to it in the sentence: • Sammows my lawn every weekend. • Kevinmows my lawn every weekend. • Either Sam or Kevinmows my lawn every weekend.

  42. The scoutswere not lost. • The leaderwas not lost. • Neither the scoutsnor the leaderwas lost. • Neither the leadernor the scoutswere lost. • As you can see, the last two sentences are essentially the same. The only difference is which subject is closest to the verb.

  43. Try this sentence…… • Justin and Patrick ( go – goes ) to every home game. • What is the subject for this verb? • Justin and Patrick. • Because we have the word and between the two names, we need to use the plural verb: • Justin and Patrickgo to everyhome game. • Trick: If you know the subject is plural, replace the names with the plural word they. Then you can hear which verb sounds right: • Theygo to every home game.

  44. Try this sentence: • Neither Joan nor Deirdre ( drinks – drink) coffee. • What is the subject? • Joan nor Deirdre. • Because the wordnor comes between the two names, match the verb to the subject that is closest to it: Deirdre. • Deirdredrinkscoffee. • Neither Joan nor Deirdredrinks coffee. • Trick: If you know the subject is singular, replace the name with the singular word he or she. Then you can hear which verb sounds right: • Shedrinks coffee.

  45. Here’s one more sentence to try: • Either Jasmine or her sisters ( visits – visit ) Grandma once a week. • What is the subject? • Jasmine or her sisters. • Because the word or comes between the subjects, match the verb with the subject that is closest to it: sisters. • Sistersvisit Grandma once a week. • Either Jasmine or her sistersvisitGrandma once a week.

  46. Subjects Separated from the Verbs • Words that come in between the subject and the verb might cause you to choose the wrong verb. • Every day one of the football players falls down. • Here the subject is one—one falls down. • But the prepositional phrase of the football players might cause you to match the verb to players: • Every day one of the football players fall down.

  47. A word in a prepositional phrase willnot be the subject. Putting parentheses around the prepositional phrase can help you find the correct subject. • One(of the football players) fallsdown. • Three(of the football players) fall down.

  48. Remember: A preposition is a word that tells what a cat can do with a chair: in, under, over, beside, etc. • A prepositional phrase is a group of words that starts with a preposition and then has a couple more words to complete the idea.

  49. PRACTICE