ACT English : Pronoun-Antecedent Number Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

Example Question #2 : Correcting Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

The loss of a parent at a young age can traumatize a person for the rest of your life.

Possible Answers:

for the rest of your living.

for the rest of your life.

for the rest of yourself's life.

for the rest of his or her life.

on the rest of your life.

Correct answer:

for the rest of his or her life.

Explanation:

The use of "your" at the end of the sentence is confusing, as the only reference in the sentence is "a person," and the second person pronoun has no place in the sentence. Changing "your" to a third person possessive pronoun will straighten out this problem. Because we do not know whether the "person" in question is male or female, we should use the phrase "his or her." The correct answer choice, therefore, is "for the rest of his or her life."

Example Question #11 : Correcting Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

The rites of ancient Roman religion are nearly impossible to recreate centuries after it was no longer an active faith.

Possible Answers:

after the faith not being active.

after it was not an active faith.

after it was no longer an active faith.

after it was no longer active as a faith.

after the faith was no longer active.

Correct answer:

after the faith was no longer active.

Explanation:

The phrase as written in the underlined portion makes an odd reference. The subject of the sentence are the "rites," and not the religion. The faith needs to be specifically referenced, as well as being fully grammatically correct; therefore, "after the faith was no longer active" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #61 : Correcting Agreement Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Even though the army used every weapon at their disposal, the enemy was still able to make it into the base.

Possible Answers:

Even if the army used every weapon at their disposal

Even though the army used every weapon at its disposal

Even though the army used every weapons at their disposal

Even though the army uses every weapon at their disposal

Even though the army used every weapon at their disposal

Correct answer:

Even though the army used every weapon at its disposal

Explanation:

The plural possessive pronoun "their" does not agree with its singular subject, "the army." Even though "the army" represents a group of people, it is a singular noun, and should consequently be modified by the pronoun "its."

Example Question #21 : Pronoun Antecedent Number Errors

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

That players are the best on the team today.

Possible Answers:

Those

They're

That's

No Change

Correct answer:

Those

Explanation:

"That" is singular and "players" is plural, so you need the plural form "those" in order for the pronoun and antecedent to match in number.

Example Question #22 : Pronoun Antecedent Number Errors

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

Last year, one of my favorite Broadway shows were Les Miserables.

Possible Answers:

show was

shows was

NO CHANGE

show were

shows they were

Correct answer:

shows was

Explanation:

The subject is singular, even though the word "shows" is plural-the only show that is being referred to is "one of" the favorites so you need the singular pronoun "was" instead of the plural pronoun "were" and the word "shows" remains plural because you are selecting one (Les Miserables) from a group.

Example Question #23 : Pronoun Antecedent Number Errors

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

Somebody left their phone on the table at the restaurant.

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

left they're phone

left its phone

had left their phone

left his or her phone

Correct answer:

left his or her phone

Explanation:

"Somebody" is a singular indefinite pronoun so it needs the singular "his or her." "Their" is a plural pronoun.

Example Question #24 : Pronoun Antecedent Number Errors

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

When a person does not agree with what their teacher is saying, she should express her opinion respectfully.

Possible Answers:

what they're teacher is saying

NO CHANGE

what there teacher is saying

what is being said by their teacher

what her teacher is saying,

Correct answer:

what her teacher is saying,

Explanation:

The pronoun "she" in the second part of the sentence is singular so it needs the singular "her" instead of "their" in the first part of the sentence.  Don't be thrown off by the alternate spellings of "their!"  "Their" is actually the correct spelling for the possessive form of they, but you need a singular pronoun here.

Example Question #25 : Pronoun Antecedent Number Errors

“Mathematics and Learning”

What subject should be learned first?  The question rightly troubles anyone who’s interest is in education.  Of course, young children often must learn in a very basic and rote fashion, applying their apt memorization skills to simple tasks that will serve them very well in later years when they go one to apply such knowledge to more complex topics.  However, when the time comes to designing curricula, an important question must be answered for older students, namely “What is most important first topic in these students’s education?”

An argument can be made for the use of mathematics as a tool for teaching students how to reason more clearly.  This is not because mathematics is the basis of all knowledge.  Indeed not.  There are many important subjects including not only the humanities like poetry and history but sciences like biology and physiology too.   These topics are not strictly speaking mathematical in nature, even though mathematics can be used in it in many ways.

Our minds are best geared for learning things that we can sense, things that are visible and tangible.  Although mathematics is abstract, it can begin with this kind of sense derived experience.  Beginning with simple everyday examples, children can be taught the more abstract and difficult skills that must be learned for the sake of the development of mathematical skills.  In the process of learning these topics, the children will begin to learn important rules about reasoning.  He or she will learn how several propositions can serve as the basis for conclusions.  They will learn how certain properties are related to various geometric figures and arithmetical rules.  Although much of this will be memorized at first, with time, they will have the opportunity to see that human reasoning in mathematical subjects is orderly and logical.  On the basis of such “logical experience,” young learners can then begin to be taught the rules of logic that they have been using all along.  As the medievals used to say, they could go from logica utens, logic used in other subjects, to logica docens logic taught, as a unique, and separate subject.

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

Possible Answers:

These topics are not strictly speaking mathematical in nature, but mathematics can be used in it in many ways.

NO CHANGE

These topics are not strictly speaking mathematical in nature, even though mathematics can be used in them in many ways.

These topics are not strictly speaking mathematical in nature, although mathematics can be used in it in many ways.

These topics are not strictly speaking mathematical in nature, for mathematics can be used in it in many ways.

Correct answer:

These topics are not strictly speaking mathematical in nature, even though mathematics can be used in them in many ways.

Explanation:

The referent of the word "it" is a bit confusing when you read this sentence. It does not make sense to say that it refers to "nature." What makes the most sense is that the sentence is referring to "topics", indicating that mathematics can be used in various topics. Therefore, the word should be "them" and not "it."

Example Question #26 : Pronoun Antecedent Number Errors

“Mathematics and Learning”

What subject should be learned first?  The question rightly troubles anyone who’s interest is in education.  Of course, young children often must learn in a very basic and rote fashion, applying their apt memorization skills to simple tasks that will serve them very well in later years when they go one to apply such knowledge to more complex topics.  However, when the time comes to designing curricula, an important question must be answered for older students, namely “What is most important first topic in these students’s education?”

An argument can be made for the use of mathematics as a tool for teaching students how to reason more clearly.  This is not because mathematics is the basis of all knowledge.  Indeed not.  There are many important subjects including not only the humanities like poetry and history but sciences like biology and physiology too.   These topics are not strictly speaking mathematical in nature, even though mathematics can be used in it in many ways.

Our minds are best geared for learning things that we can sense, things that are visible and tangible.  Although mathematics is abstract, it can begin with this kind of sense derived experience.  Beginning with simple everyday examples, children can be taught the more abstract and difficult skills that must be learned for the sake of the development of mathematical skills.  In the process of learning these topics, the children will begin to learn important rules about reasoning.  He or she will learn how several propositions can serve as the basis for conclusions.  They will learn how certain properties are related to various geometric figures and arithmetical rules.  Although much of this will be memorized at first, with time, they will have the opportunity to see that human reasoning in mathematical subjects is orderly and logical.  On the basis of such “logical experience,” young learners can then begin to be taught the rules of logic that they have been using all along.  As the medievals used to say, they could go from logica utens, logic used in other subjects, to logica docens logic taught, as a unique, and separate subject.

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

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

He or she will learn that

He will learn how

They will learn how

He or she had learned how

Correct answer:

They will learn how

Explanation:

Notice that the referent for "he or she" is actually "the children." Although "he or she" contains two words, it is actually a singular expression. This is because it indicates only one or the other of the two people, not both at the same time. Therefore, you need the plural pronoun "they" instead of the singular "he or she."

Example Question #27 : Pronoun Antecedent Number Errors

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

She moved the jar of pickles from their place on the condiment table.

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

theirs

her

its

his

Correct answer:

its

Explanation:

A pronoun must agree in number with the antecedent it replaces. In this case, the noun "jar" is the antecedent. "Jar" is singular, so the pronoun that replaces it must also be singular. A phrase or clause between the antecedent and the pronoun, such as "of pickles," does not change the antecedent's number. In this case, even though the word "pickles" is plural, the antecedent, "jar," that the pronoun replaces is still singular, so it should be replaced by the singular neutral pronoun "its."  

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