Lesson Plan

Indefinite Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement: Number


In this unit, students will:

  • recognize singular and plural indefinite pronouns.
  • understand and use correct subject-verb agreement for singular and plural indefinite pronouns.
  • identify antecedents to indefinite pronouns.
  • understand and use correct pronoun-antecedent agreement.
  • compose a conclusion that follows from narrated events, using indefinite pronouns.

Essential Questions

How do grammar and the conventions of language influence spoken and written communication?
  • What makes clear and effective writing?
  • How do grammar and the conventions of language influence spoken and written communication?


  • Antecedent: A noun, pronoun, phrase, or clause referred to by a pronoun.
  • Indefinite Pronoun: A pronoun that refers to one or more unspecified people, objects, or places.
  • Noun: The name of a person, place, object (thing), idea, quality, or activity.
  • Pronoun: A word used in place of a noun.
  • Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement: A pronoun should agree with its antecedent in person, number, and gender.
  • Subject: A word, phrase, or clause that names the person, place, or thing about which something is said.
  • Subject-Verb Agreement: When the subject and verb in a sentence agree in number (singular/plural).
  • Verb: A word that shows action or a state of being.


Prerequisite Knowledge:

  • Identification of pronoun antecedents


120 minutes/3 class periods

Prerequisite Skills

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Formative Assessment

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    • Students’ participation in classroom discussion and performance on the written assignments will help determine if they understand the material.
    • Use the collected sentences from The Three Pigs to check for understanding.

Suggested Instructional Supports

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    Scaffolding, Active Engagement, Modeling, Explicit Instruction
    W: Review subject-verb agreement for indefinite pronouns, and then introduce the concept of pronoun-antecedent agreement with a focus on number. 
    H: Students begin with a whole-group review of previously learned concepts and then do a shared-writing activity using indefinite pronouns. 
    E: Students begin the lesson by applying previously learned concepts to reinforce understanding and then move to a whole-group activity that incorporates reading a picture book with words missing, to which students, working in pairs, will add text and apply understanding of concepts from all three lessons in this unit. 
    R: Students have opportunities to review and revise sentences after receiving appropriate and timely feedback. 
    E: Students write a one-paragraph ending to a picture book, applying the concepts learned about indefinite pronouns. 
    T: Students explore and apply understanding of indefinite pronouns, subject-verb agreement, and pronoun-antecedent agreement through large-group instruction and discussion, partner interaction, and individual application of the concepts. 
    O: This lesson is designed to refine and build upon previous understanding of pronouns and subject-verb agreement. 

Instructional Procedures

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    Focus Question: What is pronoun-antecedent agreement?

    Part 1

    Briefly review previous lessons about indefinite pronouns; ask students to list the indefinite pronouns that are always singular, always plural, and those that can be one or the other, as you record them for the class. Refer to the completed versions of the Indefinite Pronouns List (LW-4-1-1_Indefinite Pronouns List and Key.doc), the Singular Indefinite Pronoun Chart (LW-4-1-1_Singular Indefinite Pronoun Chart.doc), and the Indefinite Pronouns: Singular and Plural Worksheet (LW-4-1-2_Indefinite Pronoun Worksheet and KEY.doc) if needed.

    Part 2

    “When using a pronoun, a writer needs to make it agree with the noun to which it refers in person, number, and gender. This is called pronoun-antecedent agreement. In the previous lessons, you have learned the trickiest part: number. Knowing about number allows you to recognize and use the correct indefinite pronoun in all your writing.”

    Write out the term pronoun-antecedent agreement for the class. Ask students to tell you what they think the word antecedent means. After listening to responses, post the definition for the class:

    Pronouns need to match the number of their antecedent. A pronoun usually refers to something earlier in the text (its antecedent) and must agree in person, number (singular/plural), and gender with the person or thing to which it refers.

    “In today’s lesson, we are going to focus on number agreement.”

    Write the following sentence for students:

                After the students collected their papers, they put them into their folders.

    “What noun do the pronouns they and their refer to?” (students)

    Then ask students to help you complete this sentence.

    Each of the students collected _________ papers and put them into _______folder. (his or her)

    “In this sentence, the antecedent is the indefinite pronoun each. How should we complete this sentence?” If students answer with their, ask them if the indefinite pronoun each is singular or plural. Students should say that it is singular. “If the word each is always singular, then the pronouns that refer to it must also be singular. Let’s try another one.”

                Everybody should wash their hands before they eat.

    “What is the antecedent, or subject, of this sentence?” (Everybody) “Is the indefinite pronoun Everybody singular or plural?” (singular) “Do the pronouns their and they agree in number with the indefinite pronoun Everybody?” (no) “How can we correct this sentence?” This will likely be foreign to many students, so explain very carefully. “Change their to his or her and change they to he or she. The verb eat must also be changed to eats. The corrected sentence would read: “Everybody should wash his or her hands before he or she eats.” (Students may choose to write just his or her and just he or she if they prefer.)

    “Let’s try another one. How do we complete this sentence?”

    Many of the people forgot to change ________clocks to daylight-saving time. (their)

    “How do you know?” (Many is the antecedent [subject] of the sentence, and it is always plural, so the pronoun needs to be plural also.)

    “Here is one that is more challenging.”

                All of the sand was/were covered with seaweed.

    “What is the antecedent?” (All) “Is All singular or plural as used in this sentence?” (singular) “How do you know?” (because sand is not countable) “Which verb agrees with the word all in this sentence?” (was)

    “Let’s do one more as a group.”

                Some of the books was/were left on the kitchen table.

    “What is the antecedent in this sentence?” (Some) “Is Some singular or plural in this sentence?” (plural) “How do you know?” (books is countable) “Which is the correct verb to use in this sentence?” (were)

    Tell students you are going to read the first part of the story The Three Pigs by David Wiesner, and then they are going to work with a partner to add some text to this picture book that is missing some words. Each sentence will need to have at least one indefinite pronoun and must use correct pronoun-verb and pronoun-antecedent agreement. You may have students share their sentences as you turn each page or wait until you are finished with the book. Provide guidance as students share their sentences. Collect the completed sentences and provide feedback before starting Part 3 of the lesson.

    Part 3

    As a review of the previous lessons, post some of the student-generated sentences, and then go over each of the indefinite-pronoun-agreement lessons present in their sentences. Explain to students that the next activity will be used to evaluate their understanding of the indefinite pronoun unit. Students will write an ending to a story using a variety of indefinite pronouns to demonstrate their understanding.

    “As your final project for this unit on indefinite pronouns, you will write a one-paragraph ending to a story. You will need to use a variety of indefinite pronouns to demonstrate your understanding of both subject-verb agreement for singular and plural indefinite pronouns, as well as correct pronoun-antecedent agreement. Please use at least four indefinite pronouns that are always singular, two that are always plural, and two that are either singular or plural, depending on the subject to which they refer.” Post the instructions so students can refer back to the assignment details.

    Read part of the picture book, What Really Happened to Humpty? (From the Files of a Hard-Boiled Detective) by Joe Dumpty as told to Jeanie Franz Ransom.

    Stop reading when you get to the page that begins with, “Muffy was at the Wall, binoculars in hand. She didn’t look too happy to see me. ‘Expecting someone else?’ I asked. ‘Someone big and bad perhaps?’” (approximately page 24—pages are not numbered in the book.)

    “To help you with your final paragraph, you may start with these sentences or you may develop your own.”

    Something was very suspicious about this morning’s events. Although everyone had different versions of what happened during the windstorm this morning, none explained Humpty’s tumble off the wall.

    “Once you have all finished, I’ll read the rest of the story so you can find out who really did it.”

    Part 4

    Give students time to revisit and revise their writing. Tell them to double check
    subject-verb agreement and pronoun-antecedent agreement.

    When students have finished writing and you have read the story’s ending, have students read their endings to the story. Score this paragraph with the Performance Assessment Scoring Rubric.


    • Have students review a variety of texts and copy sentences that demonstrate pronoun-antecedent agreement and subject-verb agreement using indefinite pronouns. Review this assignment and provide appropriate and timely feedback to ensure student understanding.

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Final 06/07/2013
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