• The SAT and PSAT writing sections are filled with errors using pronoun. A pronounce replaces a previously used noun, called its antecedent. The chosen pronoun must match the original word in number, person, and gender. Please read the following explanation, with examples, written by the Purdue University English Department. Then, at the bottom of this page, please find numerous example problem involving pronoun-antecedent errors taken from released SAT and PSAT's.


    The following is taken from Purdue University's English Department:http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/595/01/

    Using Pronouns Clearly

    Because a pronoun REFERS BACK to a noun or TAKES THE PLACE OF that noun, you have to use the correct pronoun so that your reader clearly understands which noun your pronoun is referring to.

    Therefore, pronouns should:

    1. Agree in number

    If the pronoun takes the place of a singular noun, you have to use a singular pronoun.

    If a student parks a car on campus, he or she has to buy a parking sticker.
    (NOT: If a student parks a car on campus, they have to buy a parking sticker.)

    Remember: the words everybody, anybody, anyone, each, neither, nobody, someone, a person, etc. are singular and take singular pronouns.

    Everybody ought to do his or her best. (NOT: their best)
    Neither of the girls brought her umbrella. (NOT: their umbrellas)

    NOTE: Many people find the construction "his or her" wordy, so if it is possible to use a plural noun as your antecedent so that you can use "they" as your pronoun, it may be wise to do so. If you do use a singular noun and the context makes the gender clear, then it is permissible to use just "his" or "her" rather than "his or her."

    2. Agree in person

    If you are writing in the "first person" ( I), don't confuse your reader by switching to the "second person" ( you) or "third person" (he, she, they, it, etc.). Similarly, if you are using the "second person," don't switch to "first" or "third."

    When a person comes to class, he or she should have his or her homework ready.
    (NOT: When a person comes to class, you should have your homework ready.)

    3. Refer clearly to a specific noun.

    Don't be vague or ambiguous.

    NOT: Although the motorcycle hit the tree, it was not damaged. (Is "it" the motorcycle or the tree?)
    NOT: I don't think they should show violence on TV. (Who are "they"?)
    NOT: Vacation is coming soon, which is nice. (What is nice, the vacation or the fact that it is coming soon?)
    NOT: George worked in a national forest last summer. This may be his life's work. (What word does "this" refer to?)
    NOT: If you put this sheet in your notebook, you can refer to it. (What does "it" refer to, the sheet or your notebook?)


    The following sample questions from various SAT/PSAT's involve errors in the use of pronouns:

    To become a world figure-skating champion like Kristi Yamiguchi, one must be so dedicated that you will practice six hours a day.

    Even though only parts of clay vessels may be recovered, these pottery shards are invaluable to the archaeologist because it is virtually indestructible.

    The quality of multivitamin tablets is determined by how long its potency can be protected by the manufacturer's coating material.

    Crabs living in polluted waters will come in contact with large numbers of disease-causing microorganisms because it feeds by filtering nutrients from water.

    Masks made by Kwakiutl Indian tribe of Canada have interchangeable parts that enable the wearers to change its expression during dramatic dance presentations.

    Until it can be replaced by a faster, more efficient, and more economical means of transportation, trucks will carry most of the freight within and through metropolitan areas.

    Linguistic research often requires fieldwork where they can study and record the spoken dialects of a region. (Who is "they"? You can't use a pronoun without an antecedent.)

    The reason first novels are so often their writers' best work is that it draws upon all the experiences of childhood.

    The young fish were very tiny, yet each of them ate many times its own weight in solid food every day.

    When a government agency encouraged the use of high-grade recycled office paper, they helped increase the availability of writing paper and envelopes made from recycled paper.

    Computers compiling statistics for scientists have supplied a deluge of information, and it has changed the way that research is conducted.

    Great literature, such as the Greek tragedies or the novels of Jane Austen, endures by their speaking directly and freshly to each new generation of readers.

    Although one likes to believe that your own children are beautiful, intelligent, and well behaved, what one believes is not always the case.

    As a student becomes familiar with both early and contemporary Native American literature, one may notice that traditional stories have influenced recent ones.

    It is hard for some young people to believe that women were at one time not admitted to some colleges, but they have since become coeducational. (Note the unclear antecedent for "they." This sentence needs revision.)

    The Roman Empire, often by questionable means, attempted to bring their own version of law and order to provinces throughout  Europe.