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    • Join Date: Jul 2006
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    #1

    What should the pronoun refers?

    See the examples:

    1. Tom kissed Peter. He felt happy.
    2. Tom punched Peter. He felt pain.

    What do you think "he" refers to in 1 and 2 above?

    Is there any rules in English to restrict the interpreation of "he" in this cases, or they are just ambuigious sentences?

  1. matilda
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    #2

    Talking Re: What should the pronoun refers?

    he better refers to the second person, the object, peter.


    • Join Date: Mar 2006
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    #3

    Re: What should the pronoun refers?

    Quote Originally Posted by devilcoach View Post
    See the examples:
    1. Tom kissed Peter. He felt happy.
    2. Tom punched Peter. He felt pain.
    What do you think "he" refers to in 1 and 2 above?
    Is there any rules in English to restrict the interpreation of "he" in this cases, or they are just ambuigious sentences?
    They are ambiguous sentences, and so constitute poor English. There should never be more than one possible antecedent for a pronoun. If there is, the sentence should be rewritten.


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    #4

    Re: What should the pronoun refers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Coffa View Post
    They are ambiguous sentences, and so constitute poor English. There should never be more than one possible antecedent for a pronoun. If there is, the sentence should be rewritten.
    What I wanted to ask is, if there is rule to tell which (object or subject? first mentioned or latest mentioned noun?) noun the pronoun should refer, there is no ambiguity. Does any rule exist?


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    #5

    Re: What should the pronoun refers?

    Quote Originally Posted by devilcoach View Post
    What I wanted to ask is, if there is rule to tell which (object or subject? first mentioned or latest mentioned noun?) noun the pronoun should refer, there is no ambiguity. Does any rule exist?
    As far as I know, there is no rule. That's why I said there is an ambiguity.

  2. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
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    #6

    Re: What should the pronoun refers?

    The problem with your sentences is that the two things the pronoun could refer to are so close together, it's difficult to know what the speaker actually intended.

    Take this sentence:

    "If your baby will not drink fresh milk, you should boil it."

    Clearly, the writer intended that you should boil the milk, but the word "baby" is sufficiently close to the pronoun that it could be intepreted that way as well. But reorganise the sentence like this:

    "The milk should be boiled if your baby will not drink it fresh."

    The previous clause only has one noun in it; there is no other noun "it" could refer to. Even though "baby" is actually closer to the pronoun, it is in the same clause; a simple object pronoun cannot refer to the subject of the same clause (it would have to be a reflexive pronoun, as in: "I saw myself in the mirror").

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