RE: pronoun/antecedent agreement

From: Randy Leedy (
Date: Wed Jun 05 1996 - 11:17:36 EDT

Since my attempt to answer Marion Fox privately became public
(ironically, I might add, the very line that I most wished to remain
private), I will make one last post on the subject, after which I
will continue corresponding only off the list. The question at issue
seems to be one that calls for something more like private tutoring
than group discussion.

Philip Graber's response was on target; I can see only one further
point deserving clarification. Marion, if you are considering the
personal ending of a verb to be pronominal, then I suppose it is not
ridiculous to consider an explicit subject in the nominative case to
be that pronoun's antecedent. In this particular situation,
theoretical case agreement (I say "theoretical," because few if any
grammarians will consider personal endings to have case) will be
necessary; i.e., both will be nominative. Now, here is a key
point--all this will be operating within the limits of the clause
headed by the verb. BUT--if there is no nominative-case noun
identifying the subject, you will have to identify the understood
subject from the context OUTSIDE the clause headed by the verb in
question. This understood subject (which I have been calling the
antecedent of the pronoun serving as the subject--perhaps more an
English than a Greek analysis, since Greek personal endings are
generally not considered pronominal), within its own clause, can
function in any way at all. Therefore, it can be in any case; the
writer's choice of case for that word reflects its function in its
own clause. If he were to write the word in the case that agrees with
the pronoun he anticipates using in a later clause, the result within
the immediate clause would most likely be nonsense.

The previous sentences illustrate the very point they explain. I put
"writer's" in the possessive case because that's what its clause
demands. I did not put it in the subjective case in anticipation of
the following clauses in which I used the pronoun "he."

In Love to God and Neighbor,
Randy Leedy
Bob Jones University
Greenville, SC

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