SAT Writing : Identifying Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Identifying Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

When he saw the perfect gift for his mom at the mall, he decided to buy it for them. No error

Possible Answers:

them

at

When

decided

No error

Correct answer:

them

Explanation:

The antecedent of the word "them," a plural pronoun, is the word "mom," a singular noun. Pronouns need to match their antecedents' gender and number, so the singular feminine pronoun "her" should be used instead of the plural pronoun "them."

Example Question #11 : Identifying Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

New York and Los Angeles have experienced a cultural boom in the past decade, as its restaurant scenes have been booming with new talent. No error

Possible Answers:

past decade

cultural boom

its

and

No error

Correct answer:

its

Explanation:

Given that the subject of the sentence is "New York and Los Angeles," which is plural, the pronoun "its" should also be plural. Therefore, "its" should be "their."

Example Question #1 : Correcting Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Small in size, the mongoose may not seem like an imposing creature, but when threatened they can fight off and even slay a large predator such as the king cobra. No error

Possible Answers:

an imposing creature

Small in size

they

No error

fight off and even slay

Correct answer:

they

Explanation:

"They," a plural pronoun, is used in the sentence to refer to "the mongoose," a singular subject. So, "they" should be changed to "it."

Example Question #51 : Correcting Agreement Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

An actress who struggles with memorization should study their lines dailyNo error

Possible Answers:

their

daily

who

memorization

No error

Correct answer:

their

Explanation:

"Their" is a possessive pronoun that indicates that an object belongs to several owners. However, this sentence refers to a single actress, so the lines only belong to one person. Therefore, the best pronoun to use is "her" because it matches the singular nature of the subject: she should study her lines. The correct sentence would be "An actress who struggles with memorization should study her lines daily."

Example Question #11 : Identifying Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

A professor who assigns an unreasonable amount of reading for their students may never earn the class's approval. No error

Possible Answers:

their

who

class's

may

No error

Correct answer:

their

Explanation:

"Their" is a possessive pronoun that indicates that someone belongs to several people. This sentence, however, refers to a single subject (a professor), so the best pronoun to use is one that signifies that an object belongs to one person: in this case, his students. Even though "students" is plural, the plurality of the object does not impact the possessive pronoun. Only the plurality of the subject matters, so "his" is the correct pronoun, making the corrected sentence "A professor who assigns an unreasonable amount of reading for his students may never earn the class's approval."

Example Question #11 : Identifying Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Penelope always thought of the most fabulous witty comebacks two hours after the situation in which she could have used itNo error

Possible Answers:

No error

it

thought

two hours after

the most

Correct answer:

it

Explanation:

In this sentence, the pronoun “it” (singular) refers to “witty comebacks” (plural). These words should agree in number. The corrected sentence reads, "Penelope always thought of the most fabulous witty comebacks two hours after the situation in which she could have used them."

Example Question #11 : Identifying Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

The queen and king agreed that no merchant should ever be knighted, no matter how great a difference they made for the country. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

be knighted

The queen

they

that

Correct answer:

they

Explanation:

In the above sentence, the clause "no merchant should ever be knighted" is being modified by the phrase "no matter how great a difference they made for the country," which means that the pronoun "they" has the antecedent "merchant." Since "merchant" is singular, the pronoun(s) used to replace "merchant" should also be singular—in this case, "he or she."

Example Question #11 : Identifying Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

The threat of the winter storm caused Bob to delay his flight to New York to visit their family for Christmas. No error

Possible Answers:

to visit

their

to delay

caused

No error

Correct answer:

their

Explanation:

In this sentence, an error occurs when the possessive plural pronoun "their" is used to refer to a singular masculine antecedent, "Bob." Instead of using the plural possessive pronoun "their," one should use the singular masculine possessive pronoun "his."

Example Question #91 : Identifying Agreement Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

The toucan is primarily recognized by its bright colors; they are painted a vibrant mixture of red, yellow, and blue. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

primarily

its

red, yellow, and blue

they are

Correct answer:

they are

Explanation:

The plural pronoun "they" refers back to the subject of the first part of the sentence, "The toucan." Since this noun is singular, the pronoun should be too. Changing "they" to "it" corrects the sentence's error. The corrected sentence reads, "The toucan is primarily recognized by its bright colors; it is painted a mixture of vibrant red, yellow, and blue."

Example Question #12 : Identifying Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

After days of deliberation, the hiring committee has decided to interview their three most promising candidates for the executive director position. No error

Possible Answers:

has decided

executive director

deliberation

No error

their

Correct answer:

their

Explanation:

"Their" should be changed to "its." The pronoun must agree with the noun that precedes it, and in this case the noun, "committee," is singular.

Note: Standardized tests in the United States tend to treat collective nouns (such as "committee," "team," or "jury") as singular. While it is grammatically correct to treat them as plural if all members of the collective are doing different things, they are treated as singular if all group members are doing the same thing (as in this case, all on the committee are deciding to interview), which is usually the case on standardized tests.

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