Review: Pronoun Reference

In each of the following sentences, decide whether the writer used the hilighted pronoun appropriately for academic writing.

Question 1

It says in this article in The Atlantic Advocate that Frederictonians are taking up line dancing in unprecedented numbers.

1. Right
X Oops!
Question:
It says in this article in The Atlantic Advocate that Frederictonians are taking up line dancing in unprecedented numbers.
Answer:
The answer Right is not correct.
Explanation:
What says that Frederictonians are taking up line dancing? The pronoun refers very loosely either to the article or the the Atlantic Advocate, but it does not have a clear and specific antecedent.
 
 
2. Wrong
Good Work!
Question:
It says in this article in The Atlantic Advocate that Frederictonians are taking up line dancing in unprecedented numbers.
Answer:
The answer Wrong is correct.
Explanation:
What says that Frederictonians are taking up line dancing? The pronoun refers very loosely either to the article or the the Atlantic Advocate, but it does not have a clear and specific antecedent.
 

Question 2

They say Frederictonians often gather at clubs and dance the night away.

1. Right
X Oops!
Question:
They say Frederictonians often gather at clubs and dance the night away.
Answer:
The answer Right is not correct.
Explanation:
This sentence has the same problem as the last one -- who says that Frederictonians often gather at clubs? Of course, if there were a specific antecedent, this sentence would be correct:
[RIGHT] My sisters are telling me about line dancing in Fredericton. They say rederictonians often gather at clubs and dance the night away.
 
 
 
2. Wrong
Good Work!
Question:
They say Frederictonians often gather at clubs and dance the night away.
Answer:
The answer Wrong is correct.
Explanation:
This sentence has the same problem as the last one -- who says that Frederictonians often gather at clubs? Of course, if there were a specific antecedent, this sentence would be correct:
[RIGHT] My sisters are telling me about line dancing in
Fredericton. They say Frederictonians often gather at clubs
and dance the night away.

Question 3

Recently Frederictonians gave a demonstration of their craft at the Saint John Exhibition.

1. Right
Good Work!
Question:
Recently Frederictonians gave a demonstration of their craft at the Saint John Exhibition.
Answer:
The answer Right is correct.
Explanation:
The pronoun "their" can refer only to the noun "Frederictonians," which precedes it.
2. Wrong
X Oops!
Question:
Recently Frederictonians gave a demonstration of their craft at the Saint John Exhibition.
Answer:
The answer Wrong is not correct.
Explanation:
The pronoun "their" can refer only
to the noun "Frederictonians," which precedes
it.
 

Question 4

When a dancer which is talented performs the best-known numbers, the entire audience becomes involved.

1. Right
X Oops!
Question:
When a dancer which is talented performs the best-known numbers, the entire audience becomes involved.
Answer:
The answer Right is not correct.
Explanation:
Grammatically, this sentence is fine, but many people consider it a matter of good style not to use "which" to refer to people -- "who is talented" would be much better.
 
 
2. Wrong
Good Work!
Question:
When a dancer which is talented performs the best-known numbers, the entire audience becomes involved.
Answer:
The answer Wrong is correct.
Explanation:
Grammatically, this sentence is fine, but many people consider it a matter of good style not to use "which" to refer to people -- "who is talented" would be much better.
 
 
 

Question 5

In Martha's Guide to Fredericton she lists all the line dancing halls within 50 kilometres.

1. Right
X Oops!
Question:
In Martha's Guide to Fredericton she lists all the line dancing halls within 50 kilometres.
Answer:
The answer Right is not correct.
Explanation:
On careful reading, it is clear that the pronoun "she" must refer to the possessive noun "Martha's", but this type of a reference is very awkward.
 
 
 
2. Wrong
Good Work!
Question:
In Martha's Guide to Fredericton she lists all the line dancing halls within 50 kilometres.
Answer:
The answer Wrong is correct.
Explanation:
On careful reading, it is clear that the pronoun "she" must refer to the possessive noun "Martha's", but this type of a reference is very awkward.
 

Question 6

Although Fredericton is a small town it has many interesting sights, and Ruth enjoys spring because it is the season when all dancers buy new outfits.

1. Right
Good Work!
Question:
Although Fredericton is a small town it has many interesting sights, and Ruth enjoys spring because it is the season when all dancers buy new outfits.
Answer:
The answer Right is correct.
Explanation:
Although this sentence contains the pronoun "it" twice, the writer uses both in the same way, referring to the specific antecedents "Fredericton" (or "town") and "spring."
 
2. Wrong
X Oops!
Question:
Although Fredericton is a small town it has many interesting sights, and Ruth enjoys spring because it is the season when all dancers buy new outfits.
Answer:
The answer Wrong is not correct.
Explanation:
Although this sentence contains the pronoun "it" twice, the writer uses both in the same way, referring to the specific antecedents "Fredericton" (or "town") and "spring."
 
 
 

Question 7

It is normal for tourists to visit Fredericton from all over Canada, especially in the summer, to watch the dancers.

1. Right
Good Work!
Question:
It is normal for tourists to visit Fredericton from all over Canada, especially in the summer, to watch the dancers.
Answer:
The answer Right is correct.
Explanation:
"It is" is a perfectly correct idiomatic expression in English.
 
2. Wrong
X Oops!
Question:
It is normal for tourists to visit Fredericton from all over Canada, especially in the summer, to watch the dancers.
Answer:
The answer Wrong is not correct.
Explanation:
"It is" is a perfectly correct idiomatic expression in English.
 

Question 8

Line dancing has a long and illustrious history, and it is especially popular with the older generation.

1. Right
X Oops!
Question:
Line dancing has a long and illustrious history, and it is especially popular with the older generation.
Answer:
The answer Right is not correct.
Explanation:
What is popular with the older generation, line dancing or the history of line dancing? Since the nearest possible antecedent is "history," this sentence could be confusing.
 
2. Wrong
Good Work!
Question:
Line dancing has a long and illustrious history, and it is especially popular with the older generation.
Answer:
The answer Wrong is correct.
Explanation:
What is popular with the older generation, line dancing or the history of line dancing? Since the nearest possible antecedent is "history," this sentence could be confusing.
 

Question 9

Grandparents, who were the first generation to line dance, taught their children to consider the activity as part of Fredericton's heritage.

1. Right
Good Work!
Question:
Grandparents, who were the first generation to line dance, taught their children to consider the activity as part of Fredericton's heritage.
Answer:
The answer Right is correct.
Explanation:
The relative pronoun "who" is currently the most acceptable one to use to refer to people (in this case, "grandparents"). You should not use "that" or "which" here.
 
2. Wrong
X Oops!
Question:
Grandparents, who were the first generation to line dance, taught their children to consider the activity as part of Fredericton's heritage.
Answer:
The answer Wrong is not correct.
Explanation:
The relative pronoun "who" is currently the most acceptable one to use to refer to people (in this case, "grandparents"). You should not use "that" or "which" here.
 
 

Question 10

The reasons for keeping this tradition alive include an awareness of your roots and pride in your heritage.

1. Right
X Oops!
Question:
The reasons for keeping this tradition alive include an awareness of your roots and pride in your heritage.
Answer:
The answer Right is not correct.
Explanation:
The reasons include an awareness of whose roots and a pride in whose heritage? The writer here is assuming that only a certain group of people (Frederictonians whose cultural heritage includes line dancing) will be reading the sentence. It would be better to rewrite the sentence as follows:
[RIGHT] Frederictonians keep this tradition alive to help them remember their roots and take pride in their heritage.
 
 
 
2. Wrong
Good Work!
Question:
The reasons for keeping this tradition alive include an awareness of your roots and pride in your heritage.
Answer:
The answer Wrong is correct.
Explanation:
The reasons include an awareness of whose roots and a pride in whose heritage? The writer here is assuming that only a certain group of people (Frederictonians whose cultural heritage includes line dancing) will be reading the sentence. It would be better to rewrite the sentence as follows:
[RIGHT] Frederictonians keep this tradition alive to help them remember their roots and take pride in their heritage.
 
 

Written by Dorothy Turner