Monday, May 1, 2017

This... what?


To quote Professor John Cochrane at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, you should clothe the naked “this.”

“This” should always have something following it. “This example shows that....” is fine. More generally, this rule helps you to avoid an unclear antecedent to the “this.” Often there are three or more things in recent memory that “this” could point to.

In grammar lexicon, the above issue is often marked as "unclear antecedent."
Sometimes an antecedent is unclear not because there are multiple nouns that a pronoun may refer to, but because the noun that the pronoun refers to has not been stated. This error is especially common when writers use first-person plural pronouns—we, us, our, and ours—to imply unity between the writer and the readers.

Identifying and Addressing Unclear Pronouns and Antecedents