Un­clear pro­nouns

Spotlight - - LANGUAGE TEST -

An­swer B is bet­ter.

The two sen­tences are both gram­mat­i­cally cor­rect, but the mean­ing of A is un­clear. Whose birth­day is it — the mother’s or the daugh­ter’s?

This prob­lem also comes up in spo­ken lan­guage, but when we’re speak­ing, we have other clues to help un­der­stand­ing, such as in­to­na­tion and ges­ture.

Our tip: Take ex­tra care when writ­ing a story that in­volves two men or two women, as it might not be clear who the per­sonal pro­nouns “he” or “she” re­fer to.

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