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Making Pronoun Reference Clear

Pronouns have nouns or pronouns to which they refer, called antecedents. This area of usage is called pronoun reference. Pronouns make trouble when the reader can't sort out what they refer to.

In the following example, the pronoun reference is ambiguous. What would you need to know in order to correct this sentence?

Example: Both Isabel and Barbara loved her children.

Are they Isabel’s children? Are they Barbara’s children? Because we cannot determine the antecedent, this sentence has unclear pronoun reference.

Possible Correction: Both Isabel and Barbara loved Isabel’s children.

Take another look at pronouns and Three Pronoun Cases on the next page.