The Writing Center @ The University of Wisconsin - Madison
The Writer's Handbook
An Editing Checklist

5. Unclear pronoun reference

All pronouns must clearly refer to definite referents [nouns].

Use it, they, this, that, these, those, and which carefully to prevent confusion.

Unclear:

Einstein was a brilliant mathematician. This is how he was able to explain the universe.

Clear:

Einstein, who was a brilliant mathematician, used his ability with numbers to explain the universe.

Unclear:

Because Senator Martin is less interested in the environment than in economic development, he sometimes neglects it.

Clear:

Because of his interest in economic development, Senator Martin sometimes neglects the environment.