Why Grammar is Necessary for Clarity – Part 3 Pronouns

Part 3 in our Why Grammar is Necessary for Clarity series deals with pronouns. Injudicious use of pronouns can cause confusion, to say the least, in your writing.


Consider a recent news headline:


Boy saves pet dog from bear attack by stabbing it with a kitchen knife


While we might guess at what happened here, it could be that the boy stabbed his dog with the kitchen knife – mercy killing? Unlikely, perhaps, but it’s still not 100% clear who the pronoun ‘it’ refers to in this context.




Pam was meeting her friend Sara for a shopping afternoon. When they met she suggested they go for a coffee first as she wanted her to try out a new cafe that she had discovered the previous week.


Confused? I would be!confused businessman


It’s also easy to lose track of your pronouns if they’re used too often in one sentence or paragraph. When you reach the stage in your writing where the pronoun becomes sufficiently removed from the noun it stands in place of, it’s time to revert to the original noun. As a general rule of thumb, I would not repeat a pronoun more than two times without reverting to the original.


Check back next week for the final post in this series!


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