Ann liked to choose actors that resembled the characters that he or she was playing.


B. it was

C. they were

D. were

I understood that subject here (actors) is plural. A and B are out.

I chose D because C were felt a little awkward and "that" already conveys the idea.

However, the correct answer is C. Why C? not D?

  • 1
    "Actors" is plural. "He or she" is singular. Everything should match up properly, so "... that they were playing" sounds best. However the entire sentence is awkward and should probably be rewritten.
    – Andrew
    Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 16:32
  • 1
    "that were playing" (without they) would have meant the characters. "that they were playing" references the actors. Actors makes more sense (because "the characters were playing" begs the question—were playing WHAT? Angry Birds, or poker?).
    – user68912
    Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 16:34

1 Answer 1


Ann is female, so "he or she" can't refer to Ann. "Characters" are played (not playing) so the pronoun must refer to "actors"

The word "actors" is plural. So using "they were" fits better. However the whole sentence is awkward and should probably be rewritten.

If you said "... resembled the characters that were playing", the subject of "were playing" would be "characters". But "characters were playing begs the question — what were they playing??". Instead, actors play characters. For this reason "D" is wrong.

  • It's a test question... rewriting isn't an option.
    – Catija
    Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 17:41
  • @Catija Thats obviously true, but I don't want to suggest that the sentence with "they were" is an example of excellent English.
    – James K
    Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 17:51

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