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Nursing Essay Writing Grammar: Noun–Pronoun Agreement

Nursing Essay Writing Grammar: Noun–Pronoun Agreement

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Nursing Essay Writing Grammar: Noun–Pronoun Agreement

Nursing Essay Writing Grammar: Noun–Pronoun Agreement

Noun-Pronoun Agreement Basics

The purpose of a pronoun is to take the place or refer back to a noun in a sentence. Just like subjects and verbs, nouns and pronouns should agree in number within a sentence.

Singular Noun, Singular Pronoun

When writing a sentence, using the same word more than once can get repetitive.

Example: Francine edited her paper because her paper was full of errors.

  • Rather than repeating “paper” twice, it is possible to use a pronoun.

Revision: Francine edited her paper because it was full of errors. Nursing Essay Writing Grammar: Noun–Pronoun Agreement

  • Since “paper” is singular (there is only one), use a singular pronoun (“it”) to replace it.

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Remember to find the true subject of the sentence to determine if the pronoun should be singular or plural. See our webpage on subject–verb agreement for more on singular and plural subjects.

ExampleEach student must find his or her own note-taking strategy.

  • Since the subject is singular (“each), the pronoun (“his or her”) must also be singular.

Example: Neither Bob nor Alex believed he would receive the award.

  • Since the subject is singular (“neither”), the pronoun (“he”) must also be singular.

ExampleA community group of teachers is meeting tonight to see if it can find a way to help students improve their SAT scores.

  • Since the subject is singular (“a community group”), the pronoun (“it”) must also be singular.

Singular “They”

Recently, many academic and popular publications have started accepting the use of the pronoun “they” as a singular pronoun, meaning writers use “they” to correspond to singular subjects in an effort to avoid gendered pronouns. Although the pronoun “they” is only a plural pronoun in some style guides, APA encourages writers to use “they” as a singular or plural pronoun with the specific intention of embracing gender diversity. Nursing Essay Writing Grammar: Noun–Pronoun Agreement

According to the APA Style blog, “when transgender and gender nonconforming people (including agender, genderqueer, and other communities) use the singular “they” as their pronoun, writers should likewise use the singular “they” when writing about them” (para. 1).

With this understanding in mind, when writers are specifically writing about a person or group of people who prefer the singular “they,” writers should also use the singular “they.” Where relevant, we recommend writers explicitly explain that they are using the singular “they” to follow the self-identifications of the people they are discussing.

Additionally, writers can often avoid the issue of gender-neutral singular pronouns by revising a sentence to make the subject plural:

Original sentence: A teacher should carefully choose professional development opportunities that address her gaps in knowledge. Nursing Essay Writing Grammar: Noun–Pronoun Agreement

Revised sentence: Teachers should carefully choose professional development opportunities that address their gaps in knowledge.

Plural Noun, Plural Pronoun

When the subject of the sentence is plural, the pronoun in the sentence becomes plural as well.

Example: When students arrive on the first day of school, students need help finding the right classroom.

  • Since “students” is plural, use a plural pronoun to replace it.

Revision: When students arrive on the first day of school, they need help finding the right classroom.

Remember to find the true subject of the sentence to determine if the pronoun should be singular or plural. See our webpage on subject–verb agreement for more on singular and plural subjects.

Example: When a supervisor and an employee disagree, they should discuss the situation.

  • Since the subject is plural (“a supervisor and an employee”), the pronoun (“they”) must also be plural.

Example: The professor hoped that the students had reviewed their notes carefully.

  • Since the subject is plural (“students”), the pronoun (“their”) must also be plural.

ExampleBoth Smith (2016) and Taylor (2017) believed their results would lead to social change.

  • Since the subject is plural (“both”), the pronoun (“their”) must also be plural. Nursing Essay Writing Grammar: Noun–Pronoun Agreement

Pronoun Ambiguity

Although pronouns are useful to help writers avoid repetition, they should be used sparingly to keep the meaning of the sentence clear. Take a look at this sentence:

Example: When Jeff and Brian joined the team members, they were scared.

  • The pronoun here (“they”) is unclear–to whom does it refer? Was the team scared? Were Jeff and Brian scared? In this example, because the pronoun “they” is ambiguous, choosing a noun rather than a pronoun will help with clarity.

Revision: When Jeff and Brian joined the team members, the team members were scared.

Gender-Neutral Pronouns Policy

Walden University prides itself as an inclusive institution that serves a diverse population of students. Committed to broadening the university’s understanding of inclusivity and diversity, Walden will now accept gender-neutral pronouns in student writing. This practice acknowledges APA’s recent endorsement of the singular “they” and also embraces alternative pronouns currently in circulation (e.g., the nominatives xe, ve, ze/zir, ey, and zhe and their associated derivations). Walden recognizes that discussion around gender identity is ongoing. As such, the university will accept any pronoun in student writing so long as evidence can be provided that it is accepted as a respectful term by the community it represents. Nursing Essay Writing Grammar: Noun–Pronoun Agreement

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