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TOPIC: Avoiding Referencing Mistakes

Avoiding Referencing Mistakes #589

  • Dr_English
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Hi

Look at the following sentences where the writer has made mistakes with referencing - referring to a plural noun with 'this' or 'is':

INCORRECT
Please refer to the enclosed documents. This contains all the necessary information.
('enclosed documents' is plural; use 'these' to refer to them)

INCORRECT
This projects are unusual.
('projects' is plural; use 'these' to refer to them)

INCORRECT
We've recently added two new products to our range. You can find details of it in our latest catalogue.
('new products' is plural; use 'them' to refer to them)

When you use referencing words such as 'it,' 'this,' 'these,' 'that', and 'those,' you need to make sure that they refer to the right type of noun - singular or plural.

this / that /these / those

This refers to a singular noun which is close in terms of place or time.

That refers to a singular noun which is further away in terms of place or time.

These and those are the plural equivalents of this and that.

It seems as if we have been overcharged and I hope that this will be rectified as soon as possible.
(this = the overcharging)

Two problems have recently arisen in the production plant and these must be addressed as soon as possible if we are to avoid delays.
(these = the two problems)

The decision was taken to expand operations. However, in retrospect, that was not the best option.
(that = the decision to expand operations)

Only some of the cameras are faulty. Those that carry the batch number ending in -306 should be immediately recalled.
(those = the cameras that are faulty)

it / them

These pronouns refer to things mentioned earlier.

The letter was sent last week. It was polite in tone.
(it = the letter)

Two models were launched last month, but not many people have bought them yet.
(them = the two models)

respectively

This shows a connection between various things mentioned earlier.

Model A and Model B made a profit of US$3m and US$4m respectively.
(US$3m = Model A; US$4m = Model B)

such / such a/an

Such refers back to a plural or uncountable noun and such a/an refers back to a singular noun. Using such and such a/an is a more formal choice than these / those and this / that.

We have been faced with a difficult issue concerning returns. Such an issue is unusual in this industry.
(issue = such a)

Owners are requested to control dangerous dogs. Such dogs should be muzzled and on leads.
(dangerous dogs = such)
Dr English
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