Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pesky Pronouns

Today I'm gonna talk about her. You know, she, him, it. Let's get to it.

A pronoun is a reference to the last person named in the text. If you use the word she after saying Abigale's mother, or her mother, whatever you put after the word she is referencing, not Abigale, but her mother.

Examples:

Abigale flew into her mother's arms and buried her head in the crook of her arm. This is incorrect. Even though it may sound okay in your head, it's wrong.

What you're saying is Abigale flew into her mother's arms and buried her mother's head in the crook of her mother's arm.

What you wanted to say is (and you have to reword or it sounds ridiculous): Louise's arms caught Abigale as she flew into them and buried her head. This is correct.

Now, if you have Abigale and Emmett both in the sentence, it's okay to use he and she because we know who the last gender named was.

Abigale and Emmett were walking through the woods at a good pace when she suddenly stopped and turned to him. She said, "Emmett, stop stepping on my shoes!" This is correct.

Let's throw another boy into the mix now.

Abigale, Emmett, and Mark were walking through the woods at a good pace when she suddenly stopped and turned to him. She said, "Emmett, stop stepping on my shoes!" This is incorrect. If she wanted to speak to Emmett, he either should have been listed last or the pronoun should have been them.

Am I confusing you yet? I thought I might be.

I have a simple trick to examine a sentence (you will thank me someday, I hope):

Wherever he, she, it, them, they, her, his, their, its, etc... appears, go back through the sentence and replace the pronoun with the name of the last person named. If it still reads the way you meant for it to, you are correct. If it doesn't, some rewording is in order.

If I used it on the example above with the three children, it would read like this:

Abigale, Emmett, and Mark were walking through the woods at a good pace when Abigale suddenly stopped and turned to Mark. Abigale said, "Emmett, stop stepping on my shoes!"

It reads wrong. She should be turning to Emmett. See how easy that was to find?

Now, there are times I misplace my pronouns (it's SOOOO easy to do!) but I thought I'd share a little bit of info and maybe a tip to help you in your personal editing journey. Many times, you'll find you have to reword a whole sentence to make it work with your pronouns. But take the time to do that. You won't be sorry.

Tomorrow, I'm participating in a blog hop about the next big thing. You'll get to hear about Mystic ~ Lily, and The Abigale Chronicles - Book Three (and see the cover! yay!). If you don't have a copy of Mystic ~ Bronya yet, you need to go pick one up! If you haven't read The Abigale Chronicles - Book One or Book Two with your kids yet, what are you waiting for? Those little beauties are just $1.99 on Kindle and just $5.99 for the paperbacks!

Thursday, I'm discussing  thoughts, flashbacks, and flashforwards and tips on not confusing your readers when you write those scenes. If you have a topic you'd like to see on Friday, let me know in the comments!

Did this help anyone or did I leave you more confused? What else would you like to see?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

2 comments:

Play nice and have fun. If you're a jerk, I won't publish your comment. My blog. My rules. Thanks for taking the time to chat at me!