Indefinite Pronouns Verb Agreement: A Guide for Copy Editors
As a copy editor, ensuring that the verb agreement in your text is correct is crucial for readability and understanding. One area that can often cause confusion is the use of indefinite pronouns. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at indefinite pronouns and provide a guide to help you ensure correct verb agreement.
What are Indefinite Pronouns?
Indefinite pronouns are pronouns that refer to one or more unspecified people, things, or places. Examples of indefinite pronouns include: anyone, someone, everyone, no one, somebody, anybody, nobody, each, either, neither, and many others.
The Challenge of Indefinite Pronoun Verb Agreement
Indefinite pronouns can be challenging because they often do not have a specific antecedent- a word that the pronoun refers to. This can make it difficult to determine whether the pronoun is singular or plural, which in turn affects the verb agreement.
For example, consider the sentence: “Everyone needs to bring their own lunch.” Here, the indefinite pronoun “everyone” is singular, but the pronoun “their” refers to a plural noun, “lunch.” This is an example of an incorrect indefinite pronoun verb agreement.
To fix this sentence, we could write: “Everyone needs to bring his or her own lunch.” Here, we have made the pronoun “his or her” singular to match “everyone.”
Another example is the sentence: “Neither of the boys have finished their homework.” In this sentence, “neither” is singular, but “their” is plural. To correct this, we could write: “Neither of the boys has finished his homework.”
Tips for Indefinite Pronoun Verb Agreement
Some indefinite pronouns are always singular or always plural. For example, “everyone” and “everybody” are always singular, while “both” and “several” are always plural.
If the indefinite pronoun is singular, use a singular verb:
– Each of the students is responsible for his or her own work.
– Nobody wants to attend the meeting.
If the indefinite pronoun is plural, use a plural verb:
– Many of the employees are working from home.
– Some of the books were damaged in the flood.
If the indefinite pronoun is singular but refers to a group of people, use a plural verb:
– The team is practicing hard to win their next game.
– The board of directors is considering their options.
Indefinite pronouns can be tricky when it comes to verb agreement. As a copy editor, it’s important to ensure that your text is clear and easy to read, and this includes proper use of indefinite pronouns. Remember to always match the verb to the pronoun, whether it is singular or plural. By following these tips, you’ll be able to ensure correct indefinite pronoun verb agreement in your writing.