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Law School Writing Center

Ambiguous Pronouns

Note: This page does not cover the use of they/them/their as singular pronouns.

(1) What do AMBIGUOUS PRONOUNS look like?

Alex and Taylor agreed to trade desserts at lunchtime, so he gave her a brownie and she gave him a cookie.

(2) Why are AMBIGUOUS PRONOUNS problematic?

Legal writing must be precise! Be repetitive instead of creating ambiguity. In the sample sentence, who started with the brownie? Who ended up with the brownie? Who started with the cookie? Who ended up with the cookie?

(3) How to fix AMBIGUOUS PRONOUNS?

Alex and Taylor agreed to trade desserts at lunchtime, so Taylor gave Alex a brownie and Alex gave Taylor a cookie.