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Writing Tip--

Noun/Pronoun Agreement

--by Nick


One of the most common English errors, both spoken and written, is the use of a singular noun and a plural pronoun.

Incorrect:  The University of Texas announced the firing of their basketball coaching staff on Monday.

Correct:  The University of Texas announced the firing of its basketball coaching staff on Monday.

 

Incorrect:  American Airlines announced that they would no longer offer discounts for National Rifle Association members.  American Airlines is revising their website.

Correct:  American Airlines announced that it would no longer offer discounts for National Rifle Association members.  American Airlines is revising its website.

 

In the first example above, writers may think of "The University of Texas" as plural, because it may be considered a collective noun.  This perception may especially affect writers who received formative English instruction in countries (such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and India) that teach "British" English.

In the case of "American Airlines," writers may be distracted by the fact that "Airlines" is plural; however, "American Airlines" is a singular corporate entity.