The big boys agreed with him.

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impropper pronoun use (pronoun agreement)

See example:

The big bats agreed with him.
asked Sep 25 '12 at 05:44 Winston Marshall New member

2 answers


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Grammar checking software looks for patterns. It does not "understand" the meaning of the words. Each word is reduced to its part of speech, so the softeware "sees" something like <present tense verb, singular> <article> <adjective>.  In your sentence, the software has found a pattern that might be a problem.

 

If you read what Grammarly is saying carefully, it does not say that there is a problem. It says there might be a problem. Why?

 

The subject of your sentence -- boys -- is plural while the pronoun is singular. The software, which doesn't understand the meaning, assumes that the pronoun is being used to reference the subject. Of course, it's not. But the software can't know this and, seeing the disagreement between subject and pronoun, calls your attention to a potential problem.

 

That said, if you used the grammar checker wisely, it will help you better understand grammar and improve your writing. Do not assume the grammar checker is right Try to figure out both what the rule is and why the software might be having a problem. And then, you -- the author -- must decide whether to change the text or not.

link comment edited Sep 25 '12 at 23:21 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow
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This looks like an "error" that might be reported by some kind of software claiming to help with grammar -- the sentence is perfectly correct.

 

On a side note, you should avoid the temptation to use features in word processing software or online resources that use computer programs to analyse grammar -- they tend to introduce more errors than they remove and also take away the personality of the author. (Spell checkers can be useful if used wisely.) Even the best grammar checker in the world would still be extremely poor compared to a competent copyeditor.

link comment edited Sep 25 '12 at 19:23 Peter Guess Expert

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