Here, as elsewhere, you have to be careful about prepositional phrases. Writers sometimes produce mistakes in pronoun-antecedent agreement by making a pronoun agree with a word inside a prepositional phrase when it really agrees with the noun before the prepositional phrase. Look at this correct example:

ante.

The number (of people) who are sick with the flu is almost incredible, and medical authorities tell us that it is still rising.

We say it is still rising, not they are still rising, because the antecedent is the singular word number. In other words, the people are not rising; the number is rising.

This does not mean that an antecedent never agrees with a noun inside a prepositional phrase. For example, what is the antecedent of their in this correct example?

The location of the boys was not released until their parents had been notified.

You simply have to use your powers of logic to make sure that your pronouns and antecedents agree.

Exercise 6.12

Fill in the blank with the correct pronoun. Also write ante. (for antecedent) over the noun or noun phrase that agrees with the pronoun you choose.

1. Everyone has heard of the Medal of Honor; ___________ (it was/they were) first awarded during the Civil War.

2. Every man, woman, and child in America should say “Thanks!” to the Hurley Machine Company because in 1907 ___________ (it / they) came out with the very first electric washing machine.

3. Nikon cameras are the cameras that news photographers use most often. ___________ (It was / They were) also immortalized in Paul Simon’s song “Kodachrome.”

4. The Salvation Army is ever hopeful.___________ (It has / They have) as ___________ (its / their) slogan, “A man may be down, but he’s never out.”

5. The Neanderthal man was discovered in 1856; ___________ (he was / they were) found in Germany.

6. Apparently neither Gary Player nor his son had any major objection to entering into serious competition with a member of ___________ (his / their) own family. The Players were the first father and son to compete in the same U.S. Open golf tournament.

7. Ostrich eggs are not known for ___________ (its / their) daintiness; in fact, if you happened to have one, it would take you four hours just to hardboil ___________ (it / them).

8. As the ill-fated Andrea Doria sank, the orchestra continued to perform; in fact, the last song ___________ (it / they) played was “Arrivederci Roma.”

9. Paper straws were invented in 1886 by Marvin Stone. He made ___________ (it / them) by rolling paraffin-coated paper by hand.

10. (a) The McDonald’s fast-food empire is constantly coming up with something new to promote business and keep customers happy, but one of the smartest things ___________ (it / they) ever did was to build indoor and outdoor playgrounds at many of ___________ (its / their) restaurants.

(b) The people at McDonald’s are constantly coming up with something new to promote business and keep customers happy, but one of the smartest things ___________ (it / they) ever did was to build indoor and outdoor playgrounds at many of ___________ (its / their) restaurants.

Exercise 6.13

Fill in the blank with the correct pronoun. Also write ante. over the noun or noun phrase that agrees with the pronoun you choose.

1. The Elvis Presley memorial stamp was issued in 1993; ___________ (it was / they were) worth twenty-nine cents.

2. The rulers of Great Britain hold a lease on Hong Kong, but ___________ (it will / they will) lose control there when ___________ (it expires / they expire) in 1997.

3. Herschel Walker led the U.S. Football League in rushing yardage in 1983, which was ___________ (its / their) first season.

4. The Fairy Investigation Society has ___________ (its / their) headquarters in Dublin, Ireland.

5. If kept as pets, tarantulas are supposedly intelligent enough to recognize ___________ (its / their) masters.