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Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement Made Easy

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 3/26/2012

After reading "he gots," "She do," and "They is" 257 times in a 34 minute span, I realized I needed to teach pronoun-antecedent agreement. This lesson plan will help you to explain the problem to your students and teach them how to get it right every time.

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    Students should be familiar with basic pronoun functions and types. If not, go over the basics. Part five of this series can help.

    • A pronoun must agree with its antecedent in number, gender, and person.
    • A singular pronoun must correspond to a singular antecedent.
      • The garbage man took away 25% more trash this holiday. He began dreaming of a green Christmas next year, one with less trash.
    • A plural pronoun must refer to a plural antecedent.
      • The garbage men worked hard. They wanted to go skiing in Colorado.
    • Pronouns that refer to a male or female must refer to the correct gender.
      • Fred drank milk before he ate dinner. Susan ate steak after she went home.

    Students may smirk at the seeming simplicity of this lesson. They'll stop smirking when they realize how many pronoun-antecedent agreement errors their own writing contains.

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    Procedures

    You may wish to do a pronoun review before you begin. Part five of this series will help.

    This activity should be done with a student's rough draft. If a student doesn't have a rough draft, make copies in advance of another rough draft. Another option is to use a piece of literature you are currently reading. Although corrections will be unnecessary, the identification practice will cement pronoun-antecedent information.

    • Instruct students to make four columns length wise on a slice of paper.
    • Identify all pronouns in the rough draft.
    • List all pronouns in column one with its corresponding antecedent in column 2. Once columns 1 and 2 are filled up, move on to columns 3 and 4.
    • If using this assignment with student rough drafts, have them check for correct agreement between their pronouns and their antecedents.
    • If there is a problem in agreement, have them revise that portion of their rough draft.
    • Do some examples on the board. Don't assume they will immediately recognize errors.
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    Click here for a complete 1st semester curriculum map for language arts with lesson plans and links.