What are they and how do they relate to pronouns?
These two are intertwined inextricably. You cannot have one without the other.
State the noun first. The noun must be mentioned first - BEFORE we use a pronoun - so we know who we are referring to.
Example One -
The pronoun is “he.” It takes the place of the noun "John." The pronoun refers to the noun “John.”
If you don't mention the noun first (before the pronoun) then you have no idea who "he" is.
Example Two -
The pronoun is “they.” It takes the place of the noun "Julie and Susan." It refers to “Julie and Susan.”
The word that the pronoun refers to is called the antecedent because it appears BEFORE the pronoun.
The noun is the word that the pronoun refers to.
Confusion results in careless speech. Some people speak informally using pronouns very often - too often. With no reference, it is very difficult to understand the meaning.
Proofread for accuracy in all that you do.
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If possible, when you can avoid “he or she” you will have a much more effective writing.
In the above, the noun “student” is singular. Since there is no gender indicated, to be accurate, you must refer to both “he or she.” This double reference is awkward.
In the above, the original noun "students" is plural. The pronoun "they" correctly refers to the plural noun.
Often, an error results because the pronoun does not agree in number with the noun it refers to.
This is very true with such pronouns as “everyone” and “someone.” There are a few others in this category as well.
Someone is singular and everyone is also singular. The error occurs when a pronoun “they” (which is plural) is used to refer to "someone" or "everyone" which are both singular. See an example of the error below: