Tuesday, May 1, 2012

PRONOUNS - Mistakes we make in our writing

One of the biggest problems beginning and even more experienced writers have is the misuse of pronouns.

Figure this one out: Nancy sat beside Jane. She took her hand. (Who reached for whose hand?)

When used properly, the pronoun modifies the last stated noun. See this example taken from Bobbie Christmas’ book, Write in Style.

I found a dog on the street. It was cold and wet. (The it in the last sentence says the street was cold and wet) If the writer wanted us to know the dog was cold and wet, he would have written it this way: I found a cold, wet dog on the street.

He might have written this: On the street I found a dog. It was cold and wet. (You can see the adjectives cold and wet refers to the dog in these sentences.

Personal pronouns modify the last stated name in the sentence. John and Jake headed for the super market. He wanted to buy beans. (Who is He referring to, John or Jake?)

Jake is the last stated name so He, in the next sentence, is referring to Jake. Better ways to write this sentence: John and Jake headed for the supermarket to buy beans. John and Jake headed to the supermarket. Jake wanted to buy beans.

Misplaced modifiers: These are tricky things in our writing and can cause confusion for the reader. Often we have trouble finding them when we proof read our work.

I watched the sun as it set below the horizon and wished for a margarita.

In the above sentence, the sun wished for a margarita.

Correct: I wished for a margarita while I watched the sun set below the horizon.

Read your manuscript carefully and see if you find any confusing use of pronouns or misplaced modifiers.

Do you have questions about writing we might answer?

Send them to nightwriter0302@yahoo.com

Write in Style by Bobbie Christmas, published by Union Square Publishers

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Anonymous said...

Good tips every writer should know!

Abbie Taylor said...

You made a good point.