Category Archives: 4. Classroom Exercises

Making the Right Match: Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement Exercise

Instructors: Download this exercise and the solutions at the end of this post.


When a pronoun is used to refer to a noun, the noun is called an antecedent. Pronouns agree with antecedents when both are singular or plural.

Singular:           The student turned in her paper.                                                                                                   Student, a singular antecedent, agrees with her, a singular pronoun.

Plural:              The students turned in their papers.                                                                        Students, a plural antecedent, agrees with their, a plural pronoun.

To match antecedents to nouns, first determine which antecedent a pronoun refers to. Then make sure both pronoun and antecedent are singular or plural. In the case of collective nouns such as jury,class, or audience,consider the noun singular as long as the group acts as a unit.

Because today’s usage prefers gender-agnostic writing, good writers avoid using hewhen the antecedent could be either male or female. Likewise, using he/sheas a singular pronoun is frowned upon because it’s a clunky construction. Sentences with faulty pronoun-antecedent agreement are best corrected by changing a singular antecedent to a plural. This means that in some cases, sentences work better when they are rewritten to avoid agreement problems.

Instructions: Underline the pronouns and their antecedents. Then rewrite the sentence so pronoun and antecedent agree. If the sentence is correct, mark a “C” next to it.

  1. If someone smokes, they are at risk for contracting lung cancer.
  2. Every dog owner likes to think their dog is the smartest.
  3. The jury reached their decision after deliberating only one hour.
  4. Whenever a professor gives a lecture, he should prepare ahead of time.
  5. Gardeners frequently use their own trucks.
  6. A contractor who never arrives on time leaves their clients unhappy.
  7. When someone is looking for an apartment to rent, they should check
  8. Each cast member in the play knew their lines by heart.
  9. No one knows when they will die.
  10. Each of my parents has their own checking account.
  11. Many coffee shops often sell pastries to its customers.
  12. A homeowner has to pay his taxes on time or face severe penalties.
  13. A parent likes to make sure his or her child is safe even when the child has become an adult.
  14. The audience showed their appreciation for the play with a standing ovation.
  15. Anyone who gets an “A” in the class should share their study techniques.





Practicing Routine Communication: Writing a Direct Request

Instructors: Use this short case study to help your students practice writing routine requests. You might want to assign the activity as a small group project or as homework. Our suggested solution can be found at the end of this post.

You’d like to learn more about the hiring process for a social media expert and the kinds of benefits that individual could bring to your organization. You wonder where that individual might fit into the corporate structure—would the position operate out of corporate communications, marketing, customer service, or elsewhere? You also are unclear about qualifications for candidates, salary, and how a social media expert’s success would be evaluated.

Compose an e-mail inquiry to <>. Explain your situation and list specific questions for her to answer. Although she is likely to want to talk on the phone, make it clear you want your answers in writing so you can have a record of her advice to share when you report back to your CEO.

Suggested Solution

To:  Doreen Goodwin <>

From:  [Your name]

Subject:  Searching for Advice and Information About Social Media Experts

Dear Ms. Goodwin:

You have been recommended by HomeCenter CEO John Brauburger as a valuable source of information. I’m hoping you can help me learn more about social media experts, as my company is considering hiring one.

Answers to the following questions will assist me in deciding whether to suggest pursuing this issue:

  • How could a social media specialist benefit HomeCenter?
  • What salary range is appropriate for such a specialist?
  • What qualifications would we seek in such a specialist?
  • In which corporate areas do social media specialists typically work: corporate communications, marketing, customer support, or some other area?
  • How could we evaluate that person’s success on the job, once hired?

I’m sure many other questions could be asked, but I’d like to start with these. A written response before March 15 would enable me to report to our CEO.


Your name

[Your contact information]

Number Style: Word or Figure?

[Instructors: Download this exercise and the answer key at the end of the post.]

Whether to use words or figures to express numbers is governed by convention. That is, we follow customary techniques or rules. Here is a summary of frequently used number rules:

  • General rules. Use words for numbers one through ten. (We have ten computers and three printers. She travels 30,000 miles each year.)
  • Beginning of sentence.Never start a sentence with a figure. (Twenty-five candidates applied.)
  • Money. Use figures. (Her ticket cost $699.55, and her luggage fee was $20 more.)
  • Dates. Use figures when the day follows the month (May 5). Do not add the ordinals th, nd, rd unless the day precedes the month (fifth of May) or stands alone (on the fifth).
  • Clock time. Use figures when clock time is expressed with a.m. or p.m. (at 9 a.m.). Use either words or figures when clock time is expressed with o’clock (at one o’clock or at 1 o’clock).
  • Periods of time. Follow general rules (a three-month leave for 90 days).
  • Business terms. Use figures for interest rates, contracts, warranty periods (2 percent, 6-month rental agreement).
  • Addresses. Use figures for all house numbers (3450 Main Street)except the number One. Use words and ordinals for street names tenand under (Fifth Avenue, 17thStreet).

Revise the following sentences to correct number style.

  1. After sending out twenty-five résumés, Amanda was pleased to have 3 job interviews.
  2. She prepared her résumé in about 10 hours and spent 35 dollars on paper and copying.
  3. Her first interview was scheduled for June 18th at eleven a.m. in the morning.
  4. The address for 1 interview was 4821 Thirteenth Avenue.
  5. During a 4-week period, she talked with at least fifteen interviewers and managers.
  6. 2 or 3 interviewers at each company questioned her for about twenty minutes.
  7. A well-known company offered her thirty thousand dollars as a starting salary, but she was hoping for forty thousand.
  8. One job candidate spent 3 hundred dollars on a new wardrobe and traveled fifteen hundred miles to a promising interview.
  9. That candidate received 2 offers on the 15th of the month, but he asked for 7 days to decide.
  10. He graduated with sixty thousand dollars in student loans at a five percent interest rate.
  11. His best interview was at 1 Rockefeller Plaza, which is just off 5th Avenue.
  12. He had only three dollars in his pocket, but a taxi ride would cost at least 15 dollars.
  13. Eager candidates submit their résumés to 1 hundred or more companies.
  14. He was asked to decide before one p.m. on the twenty-third of December.
  15. It took him only 1 hour to return the 3-page employment contract.


KeyNumber Style