His Unclear Antecedent – Style #1

His Unclear Antecedent

Coming in at an error rate of 127 in my draft, next up for discussion is Style. To be fair the book is over 79000 words so it’s not like I have that many errors in comparison to say, 30000 words. Most of my errors are typo’s or me just getting ahead of my rapid fingers when writing. I tend to get the story down with the intention of going back and fixing things later. If I focus on writing perfectly as I write, I get frustrated or lose my thought. Grammerly 1Contextual Spelling: 349
Grammer: 212
Punctuation: 999+ (Um that’s embarrassing)
Sentence Structure: 19
Style: 127
Vocabulary Enhancement: 267

Within STYLE are the following issues I found in my story:

1. Unclear Antecedent
2. Capitalization at the start of a sentence
3. Incorrect Spacing
4. Incorrect Spacing with punctuation
5. Incorrect verb form
6. Inflated Phrase
7. Wordiness
8. Nominalization

An unclear antecedent in writing is a word that refers to a  clause, phrase, sentence or another word.

In my case, it’s the referral of him, he, his, her, hers etc.

With Grammarly, it provides a box to the right with the ‘issue’ often with a suggestion on how to correct the error. Once the error is corrected this box will disappear. At the bottom there are two options, ignore (Because sometimes what I’ve written is what I want despite the ‘error’)


In case I need more information there is a handy ‘more’ tab that will explain what the problem is. It’s also good to have some examples if you’re not sure.


Now for some examples of my writing that needed some TLC in the style department.

Just ignore the fact that the next example is just horrible all around. This one has three unclear antecedent’s. They and they’re. In context, it is clear who I’m referring to, but I would make it more clear and fix this entirely since it sucks.
antecedent2“I don’t need the second one. The company isn’t locking the system because they want me to snoop, and now they’re on the way.”

by replacing the first ‘they’ it became clear who I was referring to.

antecedent1This was going to be hilarious. The pigeon pecked the man’s hand hard and he

By changing ‘his’ to ‘the man’s’ it gave a better referral to whose hand it is. In that example, I cant use a name since he is a stranger being observed from afar. His name will come up later.

The following is out of context. In this conversation, they are explicitly talking about the main character’s sister.
I actually ignored this since I don’t need to change it. This is why it’s important to think about what changes are being suggested and why there is an ‘ignore’ option to the Grammarly check.

If I were going to change it, this one is simple.

“No, I do not. I’m sorry, but this is hard. Close or not Anne was my sister.”

It’s easy to fix an unclear antecedent. This was the most common mistake I made in Style. A lot of them I ‘ignored’ because within dialogue it was clear who I was referring to, however by grammar standards it wasn’t clear on a sentence by sentence basis. Something horrible would happen if I corrected all of them for the sake of ‘rules’ I would have characters saying peoples names in every single sentence. I would have names in every sentence of narrative. That is annoying especially if within the conversation or paragraph I was already clear.

My advice about Unclear Antecedent:

Not easy to spot without a proofreader or program to find them. They are not all necessarily bad or actually unclear. Read and reread out loud before making these changes and always read the entire paragraph, conversation block or the sentence before and after to determine just how unclear it actually is.


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11 thoughts on “His Unclear Antecedent – Style #1

  1. Pingback: Capitalization Space Case – Style #2 | I wrote a book. Now what?

  2. Pingback: Incorrect Verb Form – Style #3 | I wrote a book. Now what?

  3. Pingback: That’s A Lot Of Extra Unnecessary Words – Style #4 | I wrote a book. Now what?

  4. Pingback: Nominalization – Style #5 | I wrote a book. Now what?

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