New Straits Times
Confusion over pronouns
UNLIKE other pronouns, indefinite pronouns do not refer to a noun that appeared previously in the text. They refer to non-specific things or beings. The following pronouns are singular even though “everyone” and “everything” refer to more than one person or object: Anyone, anybody, everyone, everything, someone, somebody, no one, nobody, neither, either, little.
The word “every” always introduces a word that is singular; therefore, all the indefinite pronouns starting with “every” are singular. Even though “everyone” represents more than one person, it is singular because it starts with “every”. The verb in the sentence, “is”, is also singular, since “everyone” is the subject.
The following indefinite pronouns are plural: Some, all, many, several, fewer, most, both
Let’s take a look at some common mistakes in the use of pronouns. Explanation: After “each of” we use a plural noun or pronoun and a singular verb.
Each of these boys play cricket well. Each of these boys plays cricket well. Each of these three roads lead to the railway “these three roads” = plural noun “leads” = singular verb
The verb should agree with each element of the subject. Each boy and each girl was given a book.
In this sentence, the subject is “Every boy and every girl”. Although this subject contains two nouns and they are connected by the conjunction “and”, we have to use only a singular verb “was”, because the subject implies every one of all the students.
When the subject of a sentence beginning with “each” is grammatically singular, the verb and following pronouns must be singular.
Each of the apartments have their own private pools.
NOTE: “Each” means every person in a group. An example of “each” used as a pronoun is “Each received a packet” — meaning every person received a packet.
However, when “each” follows a plural subject, the verb and subsequent pronouns remain plural. In negative sentences we do not normally use “both”. Instead, we use “neither”. In negative sentences we do not normally use “all”. Instead, we use “none”. Example: ONE
One, if used in a sentence, should be used throughout.
One should respect his parents. One should respect one’s parents. One should take care of one’s health. One should love one’s country. One should work hard.
A man/woman/boy/girl should work hard.
The sentence, “One should work hard”, is not wrong but in Standard English the use of “one” as subject should be avoided when possible.
The noun following “one of”, “none of”, “some of” and similar expressions must be plural in number, but the verb agrees in number with the subject of the sentence.
In the sentence, “Each of these girls sings well”, the real subject is “each” which is a singular word. It should therefore be followed by a singular verb.
Other singular words which often cause confusion are: “every”, “either”, “neither”, “none”, “much” and “person”.
“Some” is a plural word. It must be followed by a plural verb. One of my workers have gone on leave. One of my workers has gone on leave.
Some of my workers has gone on leave. Some of my workers have gone on leave. These pronouns (myself/yourself/himself/herself/itself/ oneself/ourselves/yourselves/themselves) should only be used when you want to refer to the subject of the sentence.
Do not use it to replace the subject.
When the subject consists of a pronoun and a noun, always use the first person if it is part of the subject, the second person if the first person is not part of the subject, or the third person if neither the first or second person are present.
Maria and myself are going to be available next week.
We can take care of it ourselves.
Maria and I can take care of it ourselves.
Maria and you can take care of it yourselves.