Whose Is It? (Pronouns and Antecendents)

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Language Arts, Writing, Grammar

Grade 5- 8


Students will learn about pronoun and antecedent agreement.


Present the following to students:
Agreement of Pronoun and Antecedent
What is an antecedent? An antecedent is the word to which a pronoun refers.
Betty brought her book to class.
In this sentence, her is the only pronoun. Its antecedent is Betty because Betty is the word to which the pronoun refers. When we talk about pronoun-antecedent agreement, we mean that pronouns must agree in number and gender with their antecedents. If Betty is the antecedent, we couldn't say, "Betty brought his book," or "Betty brought their book." In those sentences, the pronouns don't agree with their antecedents.
The only time this gets tricky is when we use the indefinite pronouns. These are indefinite pronouns:
one, everyone, someone, no one, anyone, everybody, nobody, anybody, somebody, each, either, neither, several, few, both, many, all, most, any, none.
Here are the rules about using indefinite pronouns properly so that the pronoun and antecedent agree:

  1. These indefinite pronouns are singular and therefore take a singular antecedent: one, everyone, someone, no one, anyone, everybody, nobody, anybody, somebody, each, either, neither.
It's easy to remember most of these because most of them end in either one or body, and we know that one and body are singular.
Everybody has his or her book.
Note: In the above sentence, many people would use the word their in place of his or her. This is incorrect because everybody is a singular pronoun which is not gender specific. Many people prefer to use the male pronoun his when referring to all of us. This is still considered acceptable grammar. Nowadays, however, we generally say his or her so that we have a singular pronoun and are not being gender-biased.
  1. These indefinite pronouns are plural and therefore take plural antecedents: several, few, both, many.
(Write the following sentences on the board and have students identify the antecedents)
Several students lost their books.
Many of us have taken our tests.
  1. These indefinite pronouns may be either singular or plural, depending on how they are used in a sentence: all, most, any, none.
(Write the following on the board and have students identify whether the pronouns should be singular or plural.)
Most of the apples are rotten. (plural)
Most of the milk is gone. (singular)
Note: If a sentence has a compound antecedent (more than one) joined by or or nor, the pronoun agrees with the antecedent closer to it.
Either the girls or Jose brought his car.
Either Jose or the girls brought their car.
Distribute the activity sheets and have students practice the rules that they have learned.


  • Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement Practice Activity Sheet
  • pencils

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