Pronoun Rules for GMAT Sentence Correction [includes video]

by Manhattan Review, Jul 15, 2020


As you prepare for the GMAT, it is a good idea to begin by taking a practice exam to see where your strengths and weaknesses lie. You may find that, like many GMAT test-takers, you score higher in the Quantitative section than the Verbal section. Improving your GMAT Verbal score can be difficult, but generally improving your performance on Sentence Correction (SC) questions is an efficient way to improve your overall Verbal score. SC questions deal with grammar, which is one of the more concrete approaches to verbal competencies.
One area you will want to brush up on is pronoun use. The GMAT favors sentences which are short, concise, and clear. Using pronouns properly helps a writer to achieve this goal, and misuse of pronouns is a common error you can find in SC questions. There are three rules you should be sure you are clear on to ensure avoiding common pitfalls on the GMAT.

  1. Rule #1: Antecedent
    The first rule of pronouns is that each pronoun must have an antecedent. The antecedent is the specific noun which the pronoun replaces. In some cases, an antecedent is in a preceding sentence in the same paragraph. When discussing SC questions on the GMAT, however, there is only one sentence provided, so the antecedent MUST be within that sentence.

  2. Rule #2: Agreement
    Once you have identified both the pronoun and its antecedent, you must be sure that they match in number. A singular pronoun must go with a singular antecedent and a plural pronoun must go with a plural antecedent. On SC questions, this can get a bit tricky with complex sentences. Therefore, it is important to be able to clearly identify the antecedent among modifiers and other extraneous details. Isolating the antecedent will ensure that you clearly know its number and which pronoun is appropriate.

  3. Rule #3: Clarity
    One of the purposes of grammatical rules is to remove ambiguity in communication. Correct English grammar requires that pronouns are clearly connected to one specific subject, even if this is often overlooked in casual speech. When working on an SC question, you'll want to identify if there is any room for confusion in the given sentence and whether that needs to change for more clarity.
    Knowing these three pronoun rules will help you to efficiently and effectively identify grammatical issues to eliminate possible answers on SC questions on the GMAT. Remember that pronouns must have an antecedent, agree in number, and be clearly linked with only one antecedent.

Please watch the full video here to learn more about pronouns and see examples with full explanations.


Pronoun Rules for GMAT Sentence Correction [Video]