As a copy editor, one of the most essential grammar rules that you should be familiar with is reflexive pronoun antecedent agreement. This essential rule dictates how reflexive pronouns should be used in a sentence to ensure that the antecedent and the pronoun agree.
First, it is crucial to understand what reflexive pronouns are and what they signify. Reflexive pronouns are words that refer back to the subject of the sentence. They help in emphasizing the focus on the subject and the action that the subject is taking. Examples of reflexive pronouns are myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves.
Now, let us dive into the rule of reflexive pronoun antecedent agreement. This rule states that the reflexive pronoun used in a sentence must correspond to its antecedent in both number and gender. In simpler terms, this means that the reflexive pronoun must be singular if the antecedent is singular, and the reflexive pronoun must be plural if the antecedent is plural. The same rule applies when it comes to gender.
Here is an excellent example to help you understand reflexive pronoun antecedent agreement better:
Incorrect: Each of the students should do themselves a favor and study harder for the exams.
Correct: Each of the students should do himself or herself a favor and study harder for the exams.
As you can see from the example, the reflexive pronoun (themselves) does not match the antecedent (Each of the students), which is singular. The correct version of the sentence should be rewritten to match the antecedent with the correct reflexive pronoun.
It is also essential to consider the gender of the antecedent and match the reflexive pronoun accordingly. Here is another example:
Incorrect: Jane and Tom are working on the project themselves.
Correct: Jane and Tom are working on the project themselves.
In the first example, the reflexive pronoun does not match the gender of Tom, who is a male. Therefore, the sentence should be corrected to ensure that the reflexive pronoun used matches the gender of the antecedent.
In conclusion, reflexive pronoun antecedent agreement is a fundamental grammar rule that every copy editor should know and apply in their work. By keeping this rule in mind, you can ensure that your writing is clear and concise, and that your readers can easily understand your message without any ambiguity or confusion.