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GRAMMAR ( What is? )
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PRONOUNS : What is a Pronoun? : Personal Pronouns : Interrogative Pronouns : Indefinite Pronouns : Demonstrative Pronouns : Relative Pronouns : Compound Pronouns : Gender Forms of Pronouns : Troublesome Pronouns

The Correct Use of Troublesome Pronouns

Troublesome Pronouns 1) Some indefinite pronouns are singular in meaning, and some plural; as antecedents you must follow them by pronouns in the singular or plural accordingly.

EX.— Each, either, neither, everyone, anyone, no one, everybody, nobody are followed by the singular.

EX.— All, both, some are followed by the plural.

EX.— None is followed by either singular or plural.

EX.— Is everybody ready for breakfast?
EX.— Are all ready for breakfast?
EX.— Let each take turn riding the motorcycle.
EX.— Let all ride the motorcycle in turn.
EX.— Either of the boys will lend you a fork.
EX.— Both of the boys will lend you forks.
EX.— Neither has taken karate lessons this morning.
EX.— Both have taken karate lessons this morning.
EX.— Anyone knows must tell the truth.
EX.— All who know must tell the truth.
EX.— Everyone knows must tell the truth.

2) Note the difference in meaning among the words either, anyone, neither, no one.

Either and neither may be conjunctions as well as pronouns.

NOTE.— Either means "one of two"; neither means "not one of two." We use them with singular verbs. Do not let an intervening phrase steal the agreement.

Right— Either of the girls is here.
Wrong— Either of the girls are here.

NOTE.— Use anyone, rather than either, when speaking affirmatively of more than two.

NOTE.— Use no one, rather than neither, when speaking of more than two.

3) Always follow singular pronouns, like each, every one, everybody, etc., by singular possessive adjectives or pronouns.

EX.— Each took her books (not "their books").
EX.— Every one of the boys took his ball (not "their ball").
EX.— Everybody had his record (not "their record ").

4) Use "each other" in speaking of two; use "one another" in speaking of more than two.

EX.— "Mary and Alice like each other" (not "one another").

EX.— "Tom, Ned, and Philip helped one another" (not "each another").

EX.— Everybody else's (not "everybody's else").

5) Do not confuse some and somewhat.

EX.— "He is somewhat better" (not "He is some better ").

6) Nobody and nothing are negatives. Never use them in a sentence with not. This mistake is called "the double negative." If you need to use not, you should use anybody and anything, instead of nobody and nothing.

Right— I know nobody is there.
Right— I do not know anybody is there.
Wrong— I don't know "nobody" is there.
Right— I have not done anything wrong.
Right— I have done nothing wrong.
Wrong— I haven't done "nothing" wrong.

7) The only practical difficulties in the correct use of relative pronouns are in the use of case, Who or Whom.

EX.— Whom are you going to invite to the party?
EX.— Whom do you think I gave my money to?
EX.— I will tell you who I think should be captain.
EX.— Who do you think I am?

8) Many writers misuse the relative pronouns who, whoever for whom, whomever, because they are placed at the beginnings of clauses.

EX.— I don't know who you are (= you are who).
EX.— I don't recall whom I met (= I met whom).
EX.— You are not my enemy, whoever you are ( = you are whoever).
EX.— Give my thanks to whomever you see ( = you see whomever).

9) Pronouns do not take the 's to show possession, except a few of these indefinite pronouns which are like nouns in some of their uses. We write it, its, but one's, another's, everybody's, nobody's, everybody else's, etc. Notice that the correct literary form is everybody else's, and not everybody's else.

10) As mentioned before, the word "none" takes a singular or plural verb according to its meaning.

EX.— "None can watch the fireworks unless they bring tickets." (plural)
EX.— "None is responsible except her." (singular)

11) We treat the word "all" in the same way as "none."

EX.— "All (everything) was ready for the game to start."
EX.— "All (all the people) were ready for the game to start."

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PRONOUNS : What is a Pronoun? : Personal Pronouns : Interrogative Pronouns : Indefinite Pronouns : Demonstrative Pronouns : Relative Pronouns : Compound Pronouns : Gender Forms of Pronouns : Troublesome Pronouns

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