Such Is the Way of Pronouns

I discussed last week how we tend to default to “their” when following singular pronouns, which is bad, bad, bad. Or so many say. As mentioned, some pronouns are singular, and so the verbs following them must be singular, as in “Nobody knows what trouble I’ve seen.” Seems intuitive—until you get to those sentences like “Everybody grabbed their backpacks [did they each grab one or more than one?] and headed for the door.”

Since I’ve already loaded you down with that lesson, just be aware there are some pronouns that can be either singular or plural depending on the intent. Here are some examples:

  • Such is the way of the fool
  • Such are the ways of the world
  • None is as stupid as I am
  • None are expected to make it down that mountain alive.
  • Any is fine with me
  • Any of these foods are healthy
  • Some of that pudding has turned green; don’t eat it
  • Some are really dumb to eat green pudding
  • All of that pie looks good to me
  • All are waiting eagerly for you to cut the cake

Hmm, maybe you can tell I’m writing this around dinnertime; I’m thinking of food examples. But I hope you get the point. Just use your pronouns carefully! (And really—avoid that green pudding!)

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