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noun

Consistent pronouns

Mixing pronouns is a little like mixing drinks – both can lead to a fuzzy head!

Pronouns

Common pronouns such as we, us, they, he, she and our

Some common pronouns that make writing (and reading) English much easier.

Just as a reminder, a pronoun is a word that is used in place of a noun. So ‘he’ replace’ John’ and ‘her’ replaces ‘Suzie’s’, and so on.

Pronouns are useful for

  • making writing shorter and clearer (it takes less to write ‘they’ than ‘John, Mary, Chuan and Connor’ for example)
  • avoiding repetition of the noun (compare ‘Joe rode Joe’s bike until Joe felt too tired’ and ‘Joe rode his bike until he felt too tired’)
  • provide emphasis towards one noun (such as ‘The teacher herself missed the error in that question’). Mind you, this is a somewhat old fashioned way to write and I don’t recommend its use in business writing.

There are different pronouns depending on gender and whether the noun is plural or singular.

Use pronouns consistently

When using pronouns, make sure you maintain the same or matching pronoun throughout a sentence and paragraph.

I recently read

For more details about {our product}, contact us on 1234 5678 or visit their website.

The writer swaps from being part of the company (by using ‘us’) to being external to the company (by using ‘their’). Which is jarring and somewhat confusing.

If in doubt about which pronoun to use, swap in the correct noun and make sure the sentence makes sense.

Or make a conscious choice about the type of pronoun (such as if your business uses me or we, us or it), put it into your style guide and stick to it.

Do you have any trouble with pronouns? Have you ever checked the pronoun use on your website is consistent?

Take my advice…

There are many pairs of words that sound or look very similar, but they can mean very different things. There is no easy way around these words, you have to learn them as you can’t rely on spell checkers and the like to pick them up every time.

One such pair of words is advice/advise.

Advice: Opinion given or offered as to action, counsel; information given. (noun)
As a business coach, I sometimes give advice to my clients.

Advise: Offer advice; recommend. (verb)
I advise you to wear a hat when walking in the desert.

So I advise you to take care with words. And my advice is to learn the correct use of each word.
How can you remember which is which?

“I give you advice and I give you ice” will help you remember which word is the noun.

* Definitions from the Concise Oxford Dictionary