Category Archives: pronouns

I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag, and to the Republic for Which the Flag Stands

In Emily’s will, she states that everything she owns should go to Amy.

In the Paul McCartney song, he says the rain exploded with a mighty crash.

In the U.S. Declaration of Independence, it says that all men are created equal.

This is usually an error one sees in the writing of a high-schooler, but I’ve seen it around the web quite a bit recently, and the culprits are educated adults, so let’s discuss it here. Any reasonable reader will read these sentences and know exactly what they mean. The sentences are wrong, though, because in each case, the pronoun (she, he, it) doesn’t refer to anything.

In the first example, in Emily’s will doesn’t tell us who she is. In order to correct the grammar and leave the sentence with exactly the same construction, the writer would have to make it In Emily’s will, Emily states that everything she owns should go to Amy.

This is of course awkward and inelegant, grammatically correct though it may be. A little bit of rearranging, though, and we have Emily states in her will that everything she owns should go to Amy.

Similarly, the other two examples should read something like

Paul McCartney sings that the rain exploded with a mighty crash.

The founding fathers, in the U.S. Declaration of Independence, wrote that all men are created equal.

I’ve heard this quite a bit in church services, where readers of the scripture often say something like, In John 14:6 it says that….

Pronouns are our friends. Without them, we get sentences like

Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon are the champions, Freddie’s friend; and Freddie, Brian, Roger, and John will keep fighting ’til the end. Freddy, Brian, Roger, and John are the champions! Freddy, Brian, Roger, and John are the Champions! No time for losers, ’cause Freddy, Brian, Roger, and John are the champions of the world!

Like any friends, though, you have to know how to treat them. Use pronouns carefully and attentively, and avoid weird sentences like these!