GMAT Verbal : Correcting Pronoun Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GMAT Verbal

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Correcting Pronoun Errors: Ambiguity

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.

The commanding officer frequently made poor decisions, which caught up with the entire unit and him.

Possible Answers:

which caught up with the entire unit and him.

which caught up to the entire unit and him.

which caught up with an entire unit and him.

which had caught up with the entire unit and him.

which caught up with the entire unit and himself.

Correct answer:

which caught up with the entire unit and himself.

Explanation:

The use of "him" in the underlined portion of the sentence is confusing, and needs to more clearly refer to a specific individual. The use of the reflexive pronoun can make it clear that the pronoun refers to the "commanding officer." The only answer choice that uses the reflexive pronoun is "which caught up with the entire unit and himself."

Example Question #1 : Correcting Word Usage 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.

The boss always makes sure that there is enough left over so he can pay him.

Possible Answers:

enough left over so he can pay himself.

enough left over so he can pay him.

enough left over so himself can pay him.

enough left over that he can pay him.

enough left over so he can paying him.

Correct answer:

enough left over so he can pay himself.

Explanation:

The use of "him" as the object of the dependent clause in the sentence is confusing, as it is unclear if it refers to the subject of the sentence or to someone else. This confusion can be cleared up by using the reflexive pronoun that can refer back to the subject, "himself." Therefore, the correct answer choice is "enough left over so he can pay himself."

Example Question #1 : Correcting Word Usage 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.

He made sure to always make an extra copy of every article for him, to keep in his personal files.

Possible Answers:

an extra copy for every article for him

an extra copy of every article to him

an extra copy of every article for himself

an extra copy of every article for him

an extra copy of every article from him

Correct answer:

an extra copy of every article for himself

Explanation:

The use of "him" as the object of the sentence is confusing, as it is unclear who exactly is being referred to. As the only person mentioned in the sentence is the subject, the final pronoun needs to be the reflexive pronoun, so that it can refer back to the subject. Therefore, the correct answer choice is the only one that uses a reflexive pronoun, "an extra copy of every article for himself."

Example Question #11 : Correcting Pronoun 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.

The employee always added three extra steps to each of his individual projects, making everything more difficult for him.

Possible Answers:

making everything more difficulty for him.

making everything more difficult for himself.

making everything most difficult for him.

make everything more difficult for him.

making everything more difficult for him.

Correct answer:

making everything more difficult for himself.

Explanation:

The use of the simple pronoun "him" at the end of this sentence is confusing, as it is unclear whether this refers to the subject of the sentence or to some other person. This confusion can be cleared up by making the pronoun the reflexive pronoun "himself," which refers back to the subject of the sentence. As the only answer choice to properly use the reflexive pronoun "himself," the correct answer choice is "making everything more difficult for himself."

Example Question #10 : Correcting Word Usage 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.

He always made sure to do the entire process alone, as he was only confident about the abilities of him.

Possible Answers:

 only confident about the abilities of himself.

only confident about the ability's of him.

only confident about the abilities of him.

only confident about his own abilities.

only confidence about the abilities of him.

Correct answer:

only confident about his own abilities.

Explanation:

The use of "him" at the end of this sentence is confusing and strange, as it does not properly refer back to the subject of the sentence. One might normally replace "him" with "himself," but another option, introducing "his own" as a modifier of abilities, creates a shorter and clearer sentence, so "only confident about his own abilities" is the correct answer.

Example Question #11 : Correcting Pronoun Errors: Ambiguity

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.

Crossing in the middle of the street, the taxi driver could not see Velma and almost ran into her.

Possible Answers:

Crossing in the middle of the street, the taxi driver could not see Velma and almost ran into her.

As she crossed in the middle of the street, the taxi driver could not see Velma and almost ran into her.

Because Velma crossed in the middle of the street, the taxi driver could not see her and almost ran into her.

 

Crossed in the middle of the street, the taxi driver could not see Velma and almost ran into her.

Because she was crossing in the middle of the street, the taxi driver could not see Velma and almost ran into her.

Correct answer:

Because Velma crossed in the middle of the street, the taxi driver could not see her and almost ran into her.

 

Explanation:

The original sentence has an unclear referent. Only the choice with Velma's name clarifies that Velma is indeed the individual who crossed in the middle of the street, as opposed to the taxi driver.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Word Usage 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.

Doctors are notorious for having poor handwriting skills, and many pharmacists regularly complain about their prescriptions.

Possible Answers:

and many pharmacists regularly complain about their prescription

and many pharmacists regularly complain about doctors' prescriptions

but many pharmacists regularly complain about their prescriptions

and many pharmacists regularly complain about their prescriptions

and many regular pharmacists complain about their prescriptions

Correct answer:

and many pharmacists regularly complain about doctors' prescriptions

Explanation:

The sentence has a vague pronoun reference. The use of "their" before "prescriptions" is ambiguous because we do not know if "their" refers to the doctors' or the pharmacists' prescriptions. The sentence needs to clarify to whom the pronoun refers, so the best answer choice is the one that does this, "and many pharmacists regularly complain about doctors' prescriptions."

Example Question #1 : Correcting Pronoun 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.

Yesterday, you asked me whether I agree more with John F. Kennedy or Richard Nixon; after reading about their policies, I realize that I agree more with him.

Possible Answers:

Yesterday, you asked me whether I agree more with John F. Kennedy or Richard Nixon; after reading about their policies, I realize that the one that I agreed with.  

Yesterday, you asked me whether I agree more with John F. Kennedy or Richard Nixon; after reading about their policies, I realize that the one with whom I agreed was him.  

Yesterday, you asked me whether I agree more with John F. Kennedy or Richard Nixon; after reading about their policies, I realize that I agree more with Kennedy.  

Yesterday, you asked me whether I agree more with John F. Kennedy or Richard Nixon; after reading about their policies, I realize that I agree more with he.  

Yesterday, you asked me whether I agree more with John F. Kennedy or Richard Nixon; after reading about their policies, I realize that I agree more with him.

Correct answer:

Yesterday, you asked me whether I agree more with John F. Kennedy or Richard Nixon; after reading about their policies, I realize that I agree more with Kennedy.  

Explanation:

It is unclear if the “him” refers to Kennedy or Nixon. The correct answer makes it clear with whom I agree. 

Example Question #21 : Other Pronoun 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 repeats the underlined portion as it is written.

The businessman decided to pamper him with nice meals on the road.

Possible Answers:

to pamper him around nice meals on the road.

to pamper him with nice meals in the road.

to pamper him with nice meals on the road.

to pamper himself with nice meals on the road.

pampering him with nice meals on the road.

Correct answer:

to pamper himself with nice meals on the road.

Explanation:

The use of the simple pronoun "him" is confusing in this sentence, as it is unclear exactly who the pronoun refers to, the subject or some other person. The best way to clear this confusion up is by using the reflexive pronoun "himself" to refer back to the subject. Thus, the correct answer choice is "to pamper himself with nice meals on the road."

Example Question #11 : Correcting Pronoun Errors: Ambiguity

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.

When Sheila, Veronica, and I spend time together, we always go to her favorite restaurant. No error

Possible Answers:

they always go to their favorite restaurant.

she always goes to our favorite restaurant. 

we always go to her favorite restaurant.

we always went to our favorite restaurant.

we always go to our favorite restaurant. 

Correct answer:

we always go to our favorite restaurant. 

Explanation:

This phrase must have a pronoun and a possessive pronoun which refer to all three individuals: "we" and "our."

In the answer choice "she always goes to our favorite restaurant," the pronoun “she” does not agree with the subject of “Sheila, Veronica, and I”—it should be “we.”

In the answer choice "we always go to her favorite restaurant," the possessive pronoun “her” should be “our,” as it refers to a restaurant preferred by all three subjects. Though this sentence could be correct, it is not the best option because “her” is not specified.

In the answer choice "we always went to our favorite restaurant," the verb “go” must agree with the present tense of “spend,” so it is incorrect.

In the answer choice "they always go to their favorite restaurant," the pronouns “they” and “their” exclude “I” as a subject, so it is incorrect.

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