1. Memorize the following list of “singular” words (words that mean one person or thing): each every any one body
Any combination of these words will be singular.
Everyone is here for class. SINGULAR (notice the “is”: The sentence is about one person)
Somebody should wash these windows. SINGULAR
Any movie is fine with me. SINGULAR (“movie” is singular – a good clue that “any” means “one”)
Use singular words with singular pronouns (his, her, its).
Everyone should have his or her assignments completed. SINGULAR
Somebody needs to do his or her job better. SINGULAR
Any student can have his or her library card updated today. SINGULAR
The school opened its doors in 1957. SINGULAR
2. Use its (no apostrophe) as a possessive word (similar to his):
Publix hopes to increase its profits this year.
The coat is missing one of its buttons.
Remember that it’s (with an apostrophe) always means it is:
When the bell rings, it’s time for class.
I’m going to buy Alice’s computer if it’s not too expensive.
3. Use the “thumb rule” when a name appears with a personal pronoun—I, me, she, her, he, him, we, us, they, them.
THE THUMB RULE: Cover the name and the word “and” with your thumb. Read the sentence, skipping over the words you covered up. Use the pronoun that sounds correct.
Let Jane and (I, me) help you.
Let Jane and me help you. (cover up “Jane and”)
Let Jane and me help you. CORRECT
Yesterday Jane and (I, me) helped Greg.
Yesterday Jane and I helped Greg. (cover up “Jane and”)
Yesterday Jane and I helped Greg. CORRECT
4. In comparisons, “finish the sentence” by adding an extra word: Your ear will tell you which pronoun is correct.
Bill is older than (I, me).
Bill is older than I am. (“Finish the sentence” by adding am.)
Bill is older than I. CORRECT
Cheryl works faster than (he, him).
Cheryl works faster than he does. (“Finish the sentence” by adding does.)
Cheryl works faster than he. CORRECT