Pronouns - AMA Manual of Style

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Pronouns 

Pronouns

Chapter:
Grammar
Author(s):

Stacy Christiansen

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Subscriber: null; date: 27 August 2016

Pronouns

Pronouns replace nouns. In this replacement, the antecedent must be clear and the pronoun must agree with the antecedent in number and gender.

Avoid:

The authors unravel the process of gathering information about diethylstilbestrol and disseminating it. [Antecedent unclear; does it refer to information or to diethylstilbestrol?]

Correct:

The authors unravel the process of gathering and disseminating information about diethylstilbestrol.

Avoid:

A questionnaire was given to each medical student and their spouses. [Disagreement of pronoun with referent in number; the referent is each medical student (singular), but the pronoun used is plural (their spouses).]

Better:

A questionnaire was given to the medical students and their spouses.

or

A questionnaire was given to each medical student and his or her spouse.

Note: The possessive pronoun its should not be confused with the contraction it's (see also 8.7.2, Punctuation, Apostrophe, Possessive Pronouns).

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