Just like a bad stand-in can ruin a scene in a blockbuster film, an unclear antecedent can ruin a sentence. Confused? Let me explain.
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Being a movie star involves a lot of downtime. (At least that’s what Idris Elba tells me on our monthly Zoom call.) You’re stuck spending hours in the makeup chair or resisting the craft services table while you wait for your call time.
You don’t have to waste time with scene set-up, though. That’s your stand-in’s job. While Idris perfects his DJ skills, his stand-in helps the crew perfect a scene’s lighting and blocking. All of this convenience rests on a simple premise: Idris Elba’s stand-in needs to physically match Idris Elba. When a stand-in and a star aren’t in sync, the lighting director can’t set the scene. Similarly, when a pronoun and its antecedent aren’t clear, your readers can’t understand what you’re talking about. And, much like “Cats,” nobody wants that.
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Clearing Up an Unclear Antecedent One Last Time
Much like a misplaced modifier, an unclear antecedent can yield unintentionally hilarious results. It can also cause straight-up confusion. Keep your antecedents crystal clear by making sure your sentences aren’t loaded with too many antecedents or, conversely, totally devoid of an antecedent, and you’ll be well on your way, What’s-Your-Face.
Got any other tips for keeping pronouns and their antecedents clear, close and connected? Make like Idris Elba and drop those (grammar) beats in the comments below!