Pronoun Antecedent Agreement

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6/25 Improving Sentences

Part or all of the following sentence is underlined; beneath the sentence are five ways of phrasing the underlined material. Select the option that produces the best sentence. If you think the original phrasing produces a better sentence than any of the alternatives, select choice A.

"Improving Sentences" questions are very straightforward. All you need to do is look at the underlined portion. If there is an error or some obvious fault in the underlined portion, make a prediction about how you could improve the sentence. Then look at the answer choices. Remember that the correct answer choice will not always match your prediction exactly (since there are often several ways to improve a sentence). Even so, predicting will help you to analyze why the sentence is less than ideal as it stands. Also, don't forget that sometimes the sentence is best the way it is (in which case you will select answer choice (A)).

The well-preserved, 121-million-year-old fossilized bird embryo on display at the museum has several features that suggest that its young could move about and feed themselves very soon after they hatched.

As you read the sentence, make sure to carefully analyze what the sentence is implying. In this case, it sounds as thought it is the "121-million-year-old fossilized bird embryo on display at the museum" that have young that "could move about and feed themselves . . . ." Clearly, a 121-million-year old fossilized embryo cannot have young. Instead, it is the type of bird that comes from the embryo whose "young could move about and feed themselves . . ." You need to select the answer that makes this clear.

(A) its
(B) her
(C) their
(D) the species'
(E) for this species

As the sentence is written, it isn't clear (and in fact, it's misleading) so you can eliminate answer choice (A). (B) uses an inappropriate pronoun (you wouldn't refer to a 121-million-year-old fossilized embryo as "her"). (C) is also wrong. Remember that "their" should never be used as a neuter gender singular pronoun. (D) Fits your prediction well. It specifies that it is the young of the species of the fossilized embryo that "could move about . . . " (E) uses the word "this" which is unnecessary in this case.

The correct answer choice is (D)

On 49% of the responses were correct.

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