Editing Exercise: Correcting Errors in Pronoun Reference

faulty pronoun reference
Make sure that your pronouns refer clearly to their antecedents (or referents). (Getty Images)

This exercise will give you practice in correcting errors in pronoun reference.

Instructions
Each of the following sentences contains an error in pronoun reference. Rewrite these 15 sentences, making sure that all pronouns refer clearly to their antecedents. In some cases you may need to replace a pronoun with a noun or add an antecedent that the pronoun logically refers to.

When you have completed the exercise, compare your revised sentences with those on the bottom of the page.

  1. Last year Vince played on the college lacrosse team, but this year he is too busy to do it.
  2. On the menu they say that the pasta sauce is homemade.
  3. When the boy gently picked up his puppy, his ears stood up and his tail started wagging.
  4. My mother is a mail carrier, but they wouldn't hire me.
  5. After Governor Baldridge watched the lion perform, he was taken to Main Street and fed 25 pounds of raw meat in front of the Fox Theater.
  6. After drying your dog with a towel, be sure to drop it into the washing machine.
  7. I applied for a student loan, but they turned me down.
  8. Because guilt and bitterness can be emotionally destructive to you and your children, you must get rid of them.
  9. After removing the roast from the broiling pan, allow it to soak in soapy water.
  10. Beer in one hand and bowling ball in the other, Merdine raised it to her lips and swallowed it in one mighty gulp.
  11. In the college catalog it says that students caught cheating will be suspended.
  1. A few moments after the countess had broken the traditional bottle of champagne on the bows of the noble ship, she slid slowly and gracefully down the slipway, entering the water with scarcely a splash.
  2. When Frank set the vase on the rickety end table, it broke.
  3. A broken board had penetrated the driver's cabin and just missed his head; this had to be removed before the man could be rescued.
  1. When a student is placed on probation, you may file an appeal with the dean.

Here are answers to the Editing Exercise: Correcting Errors in Pronoun Reference. Note that in most cases, more than one correct answer is possible.

  1. Last year Vince played on the college lacrosse team, but this year he is too busy to play.
  2. According to the menu, the pasta sauce is homemade.
  3. When the boy gently picked up his puppy, its ears stood up and its tail started wagging.
  4. My mother is a mail carrier, but the post office wouldn't hire me.
  5. After the lion performed for Governor Baldridge, it was taken to Main Street and fed 25 pounds of raw meat in front of the Fox Theater.
  6. After drying your dog with a towel, be sure to drop the towel into the washing machine.
  7. My application for a student loan was turned down.
  8. You must get rid of guilt and bitterness because they can be emotionally destructive to you and your children.
  9. After removing the roast, allow the broiling pan to soak in soapy water.
  10. With her bowling ball in one hand, Merdine raised the beer to her lips and swallowed it in one mighty gulp.
  11. According to the college catalog, students caught cheating will be suspended.
  12. A few moments after the countess had broken the traditional bottle of champagne on its bows, the noble ship slid slowly and gracefully down the slipway, entering the water with scarcely a splash.
  1. The vase broke when Frank set it on the rickety end table.
  2. The broken board that had penetrated the cabin, just missing the driver's head, had to be removed before the man could be rescued.
  3. When placed on probation, a student may file an appeal with the dean.