# ACT English : Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement Errors

## Example Questions

### Example Question #1 : Agreement Errors

Jimmy is annoyed at the video game that he was playing. For one thing, there was not nearly enough interesting characters suspenseful moments or exciting escapes in the game to satisfy him. For another, it was incredibly hard while playing the game to control the cars. It always wanted to veer to the left when he tried to steer to the right. But the ending of the game was worst. By the time he got to the end, the hero had decided to stop chasing rogue spies and therefore marry his girlfriend, a surprise attack resulted in her being kidnapped, and the hero must go on a final mission to save her before the game can be completed. That would of been fine, except it involved tracking the enemy using a helicopter, and Jimmy much to his chagrin never mastered flying the helicopter.

Choose the answer that best corrects the bolded and underlined portion of the passage. If the bolded and underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

The game

Jimmy

NO CHANGE

They

They

Explanation:

The previous sentence makes it clear that it is the cars that Jimmy cannot control. "Cars" is a plural noun, so the pronoun should be changed to the plural "they."

### Example Question #31 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

Jimmy is annoyed at the video game that he was playing. For one thing, there was not nearly enough interesting characters suspenseful moments or exciting escapes in the game to satisfy him. For another, it was incredibly hard while playing the game to control the cars. It always wanted to veer to the left when he tried to steer to the right. But the ending of the game was worst. By the time he got to the end, the hero had decided to stop chasing rogue spies and therefore marry his girlfriend, a surprise attack resulted in her being kidnapped, and the hero must go on a final mission to save her before the game can be completed. That would of been fine, except it involved tracking the enemy using a helicopter, and Jimmy much to his chagrin never mastered flying the helicopter.

Choose the answer that best corrects the bolded and underlined portion of the passage. If the bolded and underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

OMIT the bolded and underlined selection.

thus

consequently

NO CHANGE

OMIT the bolded and underlined selection.

Explanation:

The hero's action of deciding to stop chasing rogue spies does not entail his marrying his girlfriend; he could have simply decided he needed a career change. Since there is no causal connection between the two actions, it is incorrect to use a conjunction like "therefore," "consequently," or "thus," and the conjunction should simply be omitted from the sentence: "the hero had decided to stop chasing rogue spies and marry his girlfriend."

### Example Question #1 : Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Errors

Adapted from Looking Backward: 2000 to 1887 by Edward Bellamy (1888)

I first saw the light in the city of Boston in the year 1857. "What" you say "eighteen fifty-seven? That is an odd slip. He means nineteen fifty-seven, of course." I beg pardon, but there is no mistake. It was about four in the afternoon of December the 26th, one day after Christmas, in the year 1857, not 1957, that I first breathed the east wind of Boston, which, I assure the reader, was at that remote period marked by the same penetrating quality characterizing it in the present year of grace, 2000.

These statements seem so absurd on their face, especially when I add that I am a young man apparently of about thirty years of age, that no person can be blamed for refusing to read another word of what promises to be a mere imposition upon his credulity. Nevertheless I earnestly assure the reader that no imposition is intended, and will undertake if he shall follow me a few pages to entirely convince him of this. If I may, then, provisionally assume, with the pledge of justifying the assumption, that I know better than the reader when I was born, I will go on with my narrative.

Which is the best form of the underlined section?

no one

no man

no individual

no woman

no man

Explanation:

While in contemporary English, we would use the phrase "no one," as it doesn't make any assumptions about the reader's gender, the sentence later uses the masculine possessive pronoun "his," so in order for the sentence to be grammatically correct, we need to use the phrase "no man," even though this assumes the reader is male; this was a common convention in 19th-century prose.

### Example Question #1 : Pronoun Antecedent Gender Errors

In the last day of classes (1), everyone was distracted and unable to do their (2) work.  Even the teacher, which normally (3) was attentive and cheery, seems (4) unable to focus.  The final test took (5) way too long for everyone to complete, and many of students (6) had put down his head (7) on the desk.  The sound of the heat blowing through the room was enough to put everyone (8) to sleep, and the teachers' (9) eyes began drooping despite hisself (10).  After what seemed an eternity; (11) the bell had rung (12) and everyone, including the teacher, ran out of the room.

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number.  If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

his

NO CHANGE

his or her

they're

his or her

Explanation:

Since the genders of the students are not known, the pronoun "his or her" must be used since "everyone" is singular.

### Example Question #1 : Pronoun Antecedent Gender Errors

The world is full of contradictions and I am full of them as well. Every person has their quirks and I am no exception. I love sports but I am also lazy I love animals, but I am not a vegetarian and I love teaching but I hate taking classes. With all these contradictions how does a person like me make sense?  I would love to enlighten you!

What option make the underlined portion grammatically correct?

person has their quirk

person has the quirks

NO CHANGE

person have their quirks

person has his or her quirks

person has his or her quirks

Explanation:

Since the subject of the sentence is singular—"person"—the pronoun that refers to it must also be singular. This means that "their" is not appropriate because it refers to more than one person.

### Example Question #2 : Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Errors

The cat made it clear to Jeremy whom was the boss around the house. The only time it showed him any affection was when it was time for the cat to be fed, the moment at which it would rub up against his legs and purr loudly enough to be heard. But as soon as the food hit the cat dish, it would run to the dish, gorging itself, and then ignore him the rest of the day. If he attempts to pet the cat at any other time, it will hiss and spit at him trying to bite him. Playing with the cat was even worst because it would wait until Jeremy was dangling something over it's face and then leap up to sink its fangs into his' hand. Eventually he would give up trying to be affectionate toward the cat and simply interacted with it every morning at feeding time. It was safer that way.

Choose the answer that best corrects the bolded portion of the passage. If the bolded portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

NO CHANGE

her

its

his or her

its

Explanation:

The possessive form of "it" is "its;" "it's" is the contraction of "it is" and thus would be inappropriate here. We still don't know the gender of the cat, so the other choices are also inappropriate here.

### Example Question #1 : Pronoun Antecedent Gender Errors

Adapted from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911)

Choose the answer that best corrects the bolded and underlined portion of the passage. If the bolded and underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

it

they've

their

them

NO CHANGE

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

The pronoun "they" must agree with its antecedent, which is "roses." "Roses" is a plural noun, and in the phrase "where they had fallen," the pronoun is supposed to be in subjective case. "It" is incorrect because it is singular in number. Although "them" is in third person, it is incorrect because it is in the objective case. Similarly, "their" is incorrect because its in the possessive case of pronouns. "They have" is incorrect because the "have" is unnecessary in the sentence.

### Example Question #964 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

Adapted from The Life of Christopher Columbus by Edward Everett Hale (1891 G. L. Howe and Co. ed.)

Columbus had always meant to sail first for the Canaries, which were the most western land then known in the latitude of its voyage. From Lisbon to the famous city of "Quisay," or "Quinsay," in Asia, Toscanelli, his learned correspondent, supposed the distance to be less than one thousand leagues westward. From the Canary islands, on that supposition, the distance would be ten degrees less. The distance to Cipango, or Japan, would be much less. As it proved, the squadron had to make some stay at the Canaries. The rudder of the Pinta was disabled, and she proved leaky. It was suspected that the owners, from whom she had been forcibly taken, had intentionally disabled her, or that possibly the crew had injured her. But Columbus says in his journal that Martin Alonso Pinzon, captain of the Pinta, was a man of capacity and courage, and that this quieted his apprehensions. From the ninth of August to the second of September, nearly four weeks were spent by the Pinta and her crew at the Grand Canary island, and she was repaired. She proved afterwards a serviceable vessel, the fastest of the fleet. At the Canaries they heard stories of lands seen to the westward, to which Columbus refers in his journal. On the sixth of September they sailed from Gomera and on the eighth they lost sight of land. Nor did they see land again for thirty-three days. Such was the length of the great voyage. All the time, most naturally, they were wishing for signs, not of land perhaps, but which might show whether this great ocean were really different from other seas. On the whole the voyage was not a dangerous one.

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the passage. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Columbus had always meant to sail first for the Canaries, which were the most western land then known in the latitude of her voyage.

Columbus had always meant to sail first for the Canaries, which were the most western land then known in the latitude of her voyage.

NO CHANGE

Columbus had always meant to sail first for the Canaries, which were the most western land then known in the latitude of his voyage.

Columbus had always meant to sail first for the Canaries, which were the most western land then known in the latitude of it's voyage.

Columbus had always meant to sail first for the Canaries, which were the most western land then known in the latitude of his voyage.

Explanation:

Here the pronoun before the word "voyage" shows possession. The antecedent of the pronoun is Columbus, who is masculine in gender. Therefore, the correct pronoun must be third person male and possessive in case.

### Example Question #2 : Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Errors

“Justice and Parents”

We tend to think of justice as a matter of strict equality.  For example if someone wants to buy an item, they are understandably expected to pay an amount that is roughly equal to its value.  Likewise, when a law declares that the penalty for speeding is \$150, it is considered just that one who breaks this law pays the fine.  However, justice can also pertain to matters that are beyond mere equality.

An obvious example of this is the case of the relationship between children and their parents.  Unlike the cases discussed earlier, children will have had little opportunity to repay they’re parents for all that they have done for them.  Technically speaking, strict “equality” would require the child to give birth to the parents.  This is an absurd thing to suggest.  Similarly absurd is the suggestion that children should directly repay the rearing offered by parents.  Once again, strict equality cannot occur in the child-parent relationship.

However, there is a kind of justice between children and his or her parents.  For example, when a parent ages and is in need of assistance, if the adult child can provide assistance but refuses to do so.  This is a kind of injustice to the parents.  On a more positive note.  For example, an adult child might send his parents on a cruise in memory of their anniversary.  Such an action would be a kind of “justice” done to the parents—at least in that it recognizes the immense debt that is owed by the child to the parents in question.

In these (and many other cases), justice is less about equality than it is about paying what one can pay.  That is, in such cases, both justice or injustice is determined by worthiness that surpasses mere equality.  This kind of justice could be called justice above justice.  That is, it is a kind of justice that surpasses the “normal” justice of equality.  Such acts of justice ensure that society does not become reduced to the cold calculation of equality but, instead, has the warmth of true affection and loving gratitude.

Choose the answer that best corrects the bolded and underlined portion of the passage. If the bolded and underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

For example, an adult child might send one's parents on a cruise in memory of their anniversary.

NO CHANGE

For example, an adult child might send they're parents on a cruise in memory of their anniversary.

For example, an adult child might send their parents on a cruise in memory of their anniversary.

For example, an adult child might send his or her parents on a cruise in memory of their anniversary.

For example, an adult child might send his or her parents on a cruise in memory of their anniversary.

Explanation:

The pronoun "his" is referring to "an adult child." We are not given any gender, so you will need to have some gender neutrality. The form "they" is not correct—even though many, many people use this form. "They" is plural, but you need a singular option. Therefore, the option "his or her" is best.  This is actually singular, for it only refers to one or the other—him or her, so to speak. This is a bit more standard than to use "one's" in this case. The word "one's" would better fit if the sentence started, "For example, one might send one's parents . . ."

### Example Question #1 : Pronoun Antecedent Gender Errors

“What is Leisure?”

It would likely surprise [1] modern readers if he or she were told that the meaning of life is leisure. This seems to be the same thing as saying that the meaning of life is nothing more than relaxing by the side of the pool. [2] One can imagine almost anyone thinking to himself, “What a preposterous idea.” This idea is not as foreign as it might appear at first glance. Indeed, [3] it could be considered the classic Western position about the very meaning of life. [4] This, of course, lies in contrast to all other global positions, but that’s a topic for another day.

[5] Of course, we need to understand what is meant by the word leisure if we are going to understand this assertion. The best way to understand this is to consider a contrast between two different kinds of activity. [6] On the one hand, there are many activities that are for the sake of something else. [7] On the other hand. There are those activities that are done for their own sake. These latter kinds of activities are those that are properly understood as being leisurely. [8] For example, when someone cuts onions for a meal, the cutting of the onions is not done for their own sake. The easiest way to figure out if something is being done for the sake of another end is to ask, “Why are you doing that.” [9] The onion cutter will answer, “I am doing it so that I can make dinner.” This helps us to see that the cutting of the onions is for the sake of something else. [10] Indeed, even the eating of dinner is for the sake of something else, namely attaining adequate nutrition.

[11] In contrast to these examples, leisurely activities are those that are done for they’re own sake. [12] For example, ask someone who enjoys organ music why he is listening to an organ concert. The answer will almost certainly be, “For the sake of listening to organ music. It is that important and beautiful!” Many things can be considered leisurely, including forms of games that are played merely for their own enjoyment; however, it is important to bear in mind that there is a hierarchy of goods. [13] Some types of leisure are better than others and likely are more preferable.

Choose the answer that best corrects section [2].

NO CHANGE

One can imagine almost anyone thinking to oneself

One can imagine almost anyone thinking to herself

One can imagine almost anyone thinking to himself or herself