Common Errors In The Use Of Pronouns

In this lesson we will learn about some common mistakes in the use of pronouns.

Correct the following sentences.

  • Incorrect: One should keep his promises.
  • Correct: One should keep one’s promises.
  • Correct: A man or woman should keep his / her promises.

One when used in a sentence should be used throughout. Note that in American English, the pronouns he, him and his can be used later in a sentence to refer back to one. This is not possible in British English.

  • Incorrect: ‘Is he coming’? ‘Yes, I think.’
  • Correct: ‘Is he coming?’ ‘Yes, I think so.’

Here the sentence ‘I think so’ means ‘I think that he is coming.’ So can be used after verbs like say, tell and think instead of repeating information in a that-clause.

  • Incorrect: I enjoyed when I went to Venice.
  • Correct: I enjoyed myself when I went to Venice.

To talk about having a good time, we normally say enjoy myself / yourself / himself etc.

  • Incorrect: The boy who does best he will get the prize.
  • Correct: The boy who does best will get the prize.
  • Incorrect: The man who stole the bicycle he has been arrested.
  • Correct: The man who stole the bicycle has been arrested.

One subject or object in a relative clause is enough. For example, in the clause ‘the boy he will get the prize’ there are two subjects – the boy and he. One of these should be removed.

  • (Incorrect) Each of these girls sing well.
  • (Correct) Each of these girls sings well.

After each of we use a plural noun, but the verb has to be singular. Note that each is followed by a singular noun and verb.

  • (Incorrect) Both did not come.
  • (Correct) Neither came.

The structure ‘both… not’ is not possible in grammatically correct English. Instead we use neither.

  • (Incorrect) We all did not go.
  • (Correct) None of us went.
  • (Incorrect) One should love his country.
  • (Correct) One should love one’s country.

You may also write ‘A man/boy/girl should love his/her country.’

  • (Incorrect) Here is the bottle; please fill.
  • (Correct) Here is the bottle; please fill it.

Fill is a transitive verb. All transitive verbs must have an expressed object.

  • (Incorrect) Did you enjoy during the holidays?
  • (Correct) Did you enjoy yourself during the holidays?

Enjoy must have an object. When we talk about having a good time, we say enjoy myself/yourself etc.

  • (Incorrect) I with some friends decided to go fishing.
  • (Correct) I decided to go fishing with some friends.

Here the subject is a pronoun. As per grammatical rules, a pronoun used as a subject should not be separated from its verb if possible.

  • (Incorrect) I asked for a pen, but he did not give me.
  • (Correct) I asked for a pen, but he did not give it to me.

Some verbs like give and lend must have two expressed objects.

  • Incorrect: I and he are friends.
  • Correct: He and I are friends.

It is considered conceited to put ‘I’ first when there are two subjects.

  • Incorrect: I with my brother went for a walk.
  • Correct: I went for a walk with my brother.

A pronoun used as subject should not be separated from its verb if possible.

  • Incorrect: I will see the washing machine whether it works well.
  • Correct: I will see whether the washing machine works well.

Here the object of the verb see is not washing machine but the whole noun clause.

  • Incorrect: None of us have heard of him.
  • Correct: None of us has heard of him.
  • Incorrect: People dies when he has nothing to eat.
  • Correct: People die when they have nothing to eat.

The indefinite pronouns every, none, much and person are singular words whereas all, some, most, many and people are plural.

  • Incorrect: My dogs are smarter than my neighbour.
  • Correct: My dogs are smarter than those of my neighbour.

In a comparative sentence the same part of two things should be compared. ‘That of, ‘these of’ and ‘those of’ are necessary words often omitted.

The pronouns another, anything, each, everyone, everybody, anyone, someone, somebody, no one, either and neither are singular. Singular nouns and pronouns should be followed by singular verbs.

Incorrect: Everyone of my friends have been invited.
Correct: Everyone of my friends has been invited.

Incorrect: Someone have let the cat in.
Correct: Someone has let the cat in.

Incorrect: Neither of the girls seem to be correct.
Correct: Neither of the girls seems to be correct.

Incorrect: Each of the boys were given a medal.
Correct: Each of the boys was given a medal.

Incorrect: If any of your friends are interested, let me know.
Correct: If any of your friends is interested, let me know.

Notes

When any of, either of, neither of, each of etc., are followed by a plural subject, the verb can be plural in a less careful style. However, students are advised to use singular verbs after these expressions.

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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