Pronoun Agreement Exercise (357)
Edit the following sentences to establish grammatical agreement between pronouns and other elements. Do it without using a "his or her" construction.
Answers and Explanations
Original: Did anyone lose their biology textbook in the auditorium?
Correct : Did anyone lose a biology textbook in the auditorium?
Anyone is singular. Dropping plural their is an easy solution that does not affect the meaning.
Original: Did everyone remember to bring their nonperishable food item?
Correct : Did everyone remember to bring a nonperishable food item?
Everyone is singular. Changing plural their to singular a solves the problem.
Original: Every professor will post their exam results by next Monday.
Correct : All professors must post their exam results by next Monday.
Sometimes the easiest way to fix a problem of agreement is to change a singular subject to plural.
Original: Every parent needs to read to their child.
Correct : All parents need to read to their children.
Changing the singular subject "every parent" to plural "all parents" creates agreement with their. Someone might argue that not every parent has more than one child, but in such a general statement, such nice attention to detail is out of place. Anything is better than resorting to a "his or her" construction.
Original: Any passenger who has left their umbrella on the train should inquire at the Station Master’s office.
Correct : Any passenger who has left an umbrella on the train should inquire at the Station Master’s office.
Their is frequently used with singular antecedents in speech, but there is no excuse to permit such errors to stand in writing. English is flexible. There’s always another way to say something.