2.1 Nouns, Pronouns, and Agreement

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Course: Sample FF Lessons
Book: 2.1 Nouns, Pronouns, and Agreement
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Date: Wednesday, December 8, 2021, 2:11 AM

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This book covers the lesson relating to nouns, pronouns, and agreement.

2.1 Nouns, Pronouns, and Agreement

Lesson Introduction

What are you doing right now? You are reading things on a thing so you can learn about it, right? You may be using a thing to write things or you may be drinking that.

photo of a woman studying

Do you see how important nouns are to understanding language? Nouns are the words we use to refer to specific things. Words, computer, language, pen, notes, and coffee are all nouns that make the sentences above clear. Without specific nouns, language would be a hopeless confusion of vague terms.

This lesson will introduce you to some of the most important rules you can use for correct usage of nouns and pronouns (words that take the place of nouns), which will help improve your writing and communication.

The video below shows an example of one type of question that you will encounter in this lesson.

Review Nouns

A noun names a person (worker), place (city), thing (bus), idea (goodness), or action (driving).

Some nouns are singular because they name one thing, such as apartment. Other nouns are plural because they refer to more than one thing. To form most plural nouns, follow these four rules:

Exception

For some nouns that end in o, add -es.
hero + es = heroes
potato + es = potatoes
tomato + es = tomatoes
  1. To make most nouns plural, add -s.
bedroom + s = bedrooms photo + s = photos
  1. To make nouns that end in ch, sh, s, x, or z plural, add -es.
bench + es = benches dish + es = dishes bus + es = buses
box + es = boxes waltz + es = waltzes
  1. To make nouns that end in a consonant and y plural, change the y to i and add -es.
drapery—draperies vacancy—vacancies

Exception

chief—chiefs
handkerchief—handkerchiefs
  1. To make nouns that end in f or fe plural, change the f or fe to v and add -es.
half—halves wife—wives

Some nouns are irregular. They don’t follow any rules. Here are some nouns with irregular plural forms:

child—children man—men woman—women
medium—media mouse—mice tooth—teeth
series—series radius—radii

Example

Which plural nouns are incorrectly spelled in the following sentences?

Many grocery stores now buy vegetables such as cucumbers, potatos, and squashs from local farms. You will also find their produce shelfs stocked with apples, cherrys, and grapes from organic farms around the world.

Answer

These plural nouns are incorrectly spelled: potatoes, squashes, shelves, cherries.

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Make Nouns Possessive

A possessive noun shows ownership, as in tenants’ keys. The keys belong to the tenants. Sometimes, though, ownership is loosely implied, as in the manager’s hours. The apartment manager doesn’t actually own the hours, but the possessive noun helps specify that the manager works during those hours.

Test Tip

If a noun can be placed in a phrase with "of," as in "the keys of the tenants" or "the hours of the manager," then the noun is possessive and needs an apostrophe.
  1. To make singular nouns and plural nouns that do not end in -s possessive, add an apostrophe (’) + -s.

Al is Fern’s husband.
His boss’s house is around the corner.
She teaches women’s gymnastics.

  1. To make plural nouns that end in -s possessive, add only an apostrophe.

The movers truck was blocking the alley.

  1. When something is jointly owned, make only the last noun possessive.

Al and Fern’s new apartment is great.

.

Example

photo of a children's hospital

In which sentence are the possessive nouns correct?

(1) A charity auction and a supporters’ generous contribution paid for a new wing of the childrens’ hospital.
(2) The auction’s most expensive item was tickets to the president’s inauguration party.

Answer

Sentence (2) is correct. Auction and president are singular nouns, so adding an apostrophe and -s is correct. In sentence (1), a supporter is singular, so the possessive should be supporter’s. Also, children is a plural noun that doesn’t end in -s, so the possessive should be children’s.

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Review Pronouns

Pronouns are words that take the place of nouns. Replacing a noun with a pronoun makes writing less repetitive.  Pronouns change form depending on how you use them in a sentence.

Using Subject Pronouns
Use a subject pronoun in place of the subject of a sentence.

Barry wrote Lana’s speech. He made sure to check each fact.
Barry and Lana edited the speech together. They agreed on most of the main points.

Using Object Pronouns

  • Use an object pronoun as the object of the verb in a sentence. The object may directly receive the action of the verb.

Lana beat Councilor Kaye in the election. She defeated him by several hundred votes.

  • The object also may tell to whom or for whom the action is done.

The majority of voters chose Lana. They gave her their vote.

  • You can also use an object pronoun as the object of a preposition—a relational word such as for, of, in, to, between, or with.

Lana gave her thanks to the voters. She was grateful to them.

Subject Pronouns Object Pronouns
Singular Iyouhe, she, it meyouhim, her, it
Plural weyou they usyou     them

Example

photo of a bakery

Which pronoun should you use to replace the noun in each sentence?

(1) Cindy loves pies and cakes. (She / They) eats them regularly.
(2) Cindy got a job in a bakery. I hope she brings home samples for (you and I / you and me).

Answers

(1) The subject pronoun She correctly replaces the subject Cindy.
(2) The phrase you and me is correct. The pronouns you and me are the objects of the preposition for. The pronoun I is a subject pronoun.

Using Possessive Pronouns

You use possessive pronouns in the same way as possessive nouns, to indicate ownership. With possessive pronouns, however, you do not use an apostrophe. There are two kinds of possessive pronouns.

  1. The first kind of possessive pronoun acts like an adjective—a word that describes a noun—because it is always used before a noun.

Ms. Ellis is in tune with the members of her community and their interests.

These possessive pronouns come before nouns:

Singular my      your       his, her, its
Plural our     your        their
  1. The second kind of possessive pronoun is used on its own, not before a noun.

Her position closely reflects theirs. We hope it is yours, too.

These possessive pronouns are used on their own:

Singular mine      yours       his, hers, its
Plural ours       yours       theirs


Using Reflexive Pronouns

Reflexive pronouns refer back to the subject of a sentence and end in -self or -selves.

I decided to treat myself. You should treat yourself, too.
They gave themselves a raise. We should give ourselves credit for a job well done.

These are reflexive pronouns:

Singular myself             yourself             himself, herself, itself
Plural ourselves        yourselves         themselves

Example

Which pronoun should you use to replace the noun in each sentence?

(1) Cindy bakes in the evening, so (her / hers) cakes are ready in the morning.
(2) Cindy has to stop (herself / itself) from sampling the treats she bakes.

Answers

(1) The possessive pronoun her is correct because it comes before the noun cakes. It acts like an adjective, her cakes. The pronoun hers is used on its own, for example: That cake is hers.

(2) The pronoun herself is correct because it refers back to Cindy. Itself would refer to a thing.

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Solve Problems with Pronoun Agreement

The noun that a pronoun replaces is called the antecedent . In the sentence below, the pronoun he refers to the antecedent Ben.

Ben is very eager, but he needs to slow down and work carefully.

A pronoun must agree with its antecedent in three ways:

  1. A pronoun and antecedent must agree in person . Person refers to the point of view of the writing. There are three points of view, or persons:
  • The first person does the writing or speaking. First-person pronouns are I, me, my, mine, we, us, our, ours.

I am conducting performance reviews, so we need to meet.

As the office manager, you must order the supplies.

  • The third person is the person or thing written about. Third-person pronouns are he, she, it, one, him, his, her, hers, its, they, them, their, theirs.

Ben is very eager, but he needs to slow down and work carefully.

  1. A pronoun and its antecedent must agree in number . Singular antecedents take singular pronouns (Benhe), and plural or compound antecedents take plural pronouns (Lisa and Benthey).
  1. A pronoun and its antecedent must agree in gender . For a female antecedent (Lisa), the pronoun should be feminine (she). For a male antecedent (Ben), the pronoun should be masculine (he). If a noun is neither male or female (patience), use it.

In the video below, the teacher corrects a paragraph that uses the wrong pronouns.

Example

In which sentence do the pronouns and antecedents agree?

(1) Freda repainted her bedroom and their closet, too.
(2) She varnished the floor and can’t go into the bedroom until it dries.

Answer

In sentence (2), the antecedent floor and the pronoun it agree in person (third person) and number (singular). In sentence (1), Freda and their do not agree in number. Freda is singular and their is plural.

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Solve Complex Pronoun Agreement Issues

When you use pronouns, you must make sure their antecedents are clear.

To avoid making common pronoun errors, follow these guidelines:

  1. When there is more than one possible antecedent for a pronoun, repeat the noun instead of using a pronoun.

Rosa and Janet have been working as a team since Rosa first started working here.

  1. When two singular nouns are joined by or, use a singular pronoun.

Either Rosa or Janet is a good choice for shift manager if she wants the job.

  1. A collective noun describes a group. When the collective noun shows a group acting as one, like team, it is treated as singular and uses a singular pronoun.

The jury will offer its verdict later today.

  1. When we speak, we often refer to an unspecified “they.” In writing, however, we should be more specific.

They say hiring the right employee takes time.
The Department of Human Resources says hiring the right employee takes time.

Example

Which sentence has a clear antecedent?

(1) Cal yelled at Fred because he wanted to watch the game.
(2) Althea smiled when she threw the bouquet to Mae.

Answer

In sentence (2), the pronoun she has a clear antecedent, Althea. In sentence (1), you can’t be sure if he refers to Cal or Fred.

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