Introduction to Pronoun Reference


Pronouns take the place of nouns. Because a pronoun is a substitute, readers need to be able to tell which noun it is replacing. The relationship between the noun and the pronoun replacing it in the sentence is called pronoun reference.


The video illustrates pronoun reference using an arrow and a bull’s eye target. As you read example sentences and questions in this unit, try to picture a pronoun as an arrow; then picture a bull’s eye over the noun it replaces.

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A pronoun takes the place of noun clearly when it is easy to tell which noun it is replacing or referring to. Consider this sentence:


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Which is it: the dog or the cat?

Since it is unclear which noun it refers to, the sentence needs to be rewritten:


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Now, it is clear that it refers to the dog.

Many pronoun reference mistakes require revising several parts of the sentence to put the pronoun closer to the noun.


Pronoun reference is just one of three strategies for choosing the correct pronoun. Continue through the unit to learn more about pronoun-antecedent agreement and pronoun case.

Read through all the study pages before practicing with LearningCurve. Like the pre/post-tests (if assigned), this LearningCurve activity covers pronoun-antecedent agreement, pronoun case, and pronoun reference.

Don’t forget to work smartly!