Proofreading Tips #3: Indefinite PronounsProofreading Tips #3: Indefinite Pronouns3 years ago in Writing More Like This
Why are these important when proofreading? It's knowing when to use a singular or a plural verb. The "indefinite" part of these pronouns refers to the fact that the subject is undefined.
Many writers fall into the grammar trap by assuming that because the pronoun is referencing multiple entities, it requires a plural verb. Often it just "won't sound right" otherwise. But when these entities are referred to as a collective, a singular verb is the word you'll want to use. Examples of singular verb indefinite pronouns include:
Here are some examples of what I mean by a sentence "not sounding right" but it really is technically correct:
"Neither of the students wants to join her for lunch."
See that? Neither is actually the subject--"neither wants"--but because we add clarification that we are referring to students, it doesn't sound right. This can