Chicago Style Workout 32:
Grammar, Part 3

Focus!

Pronouns are small but powerful words that often trip us up. This month’s Chicago style workout, “Grammar, Part 3,” centers on sections 5.27–37 of CMOS 17, which cover the definitions and uses of pronouns.

Subscribers to The Chicago Manual of Style Online may click through to the linked sections of the Manual. (For a 30-day free trial of CMOS Online, click here.)

Note: Style guides and dictionaries sometimes disagree. These questions are designed to test knowledge of The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition.

[Editors’ note: Chapter 5 of CMOS is quite large, comprising 248 numbered sections on grammar and syntax, plus another hefty chunk on usage. For the sake of variety, workouts will revisit the chapter periodically rather than continuously.]

Chicago Style Workout 32: Grammar, Part 3 (CMOS 5.27–37)

1. A pronoun typically refers to an antecedent—that is, an earlier noun, pronoun, phrase, or clause in the same or in a previous sentence. An antecedent may be explicit or understood.
 
 
2. Possessives should not serve as antecedents of pronouns used in the nominative or objective case {not Mr. Blain’s background qualified him for the job, but Mr. Blain had a background that qualified him for the job}.
 
 
3. Some pronouns (such as the first-person pronouns Iweme, and us) do not require antecedents.
 
 
4. In colloquial usage, they often appears without an antecedent {they say she’s a good golfer}, though skeptical listeners and readers may want to know who “they” are.
 
 
5. The second-person pronoun (you) indicates person only: it is no longer capable of showing singular or plural, since the form is the same for both in Modern English.
 
 
6. A collective noun requires a singular pronoun {the audience showed its appreciation} {the audience rushed back to its seats}.
 
 
7. When two or more singular antecedents are connected by and and modified by each, every, or no, the pronoun referring to the antecedents is singular {every college and university encourages its students to succeed}.
 
 
8. When two or more singular antecedents are connected by or, nor, either–or, or neither–nor, they are treated separately and referred to by a singular pronoun {neither the orange nor the peach smells as sweet as it should}.
 
 
9. The pronoun used in an appositive construction is determined by the function (subject or object) of the words with which it is in apposition {we three—Bruce, Felipe, and I—traveled to Augusta} {she asked us—Barbara, Sarah, and me—to move our cars}.
 
 
10. The objective case governs personal pronouns used as direct objects of verbs, indirect objects of verbs, or objects of prepositions {the test would be simple for you or me} {read this and tell Laura and me what you think}.
 
 

 

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Photo: Vinqui, Wing Nam Ng and Meng Yuan Guan (Women’s Doubles at the 2011 World Table Tennis Championships in Rotterdam).

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