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Yesterday, Jim and his mum went to a bookshop. ..... wanted to buy a book for his father.

What's the best pronoun to use there? Do we refer to 'Jim and his mum' in the 1st sentence, or do we refer to the word 'his' in the 2nd sentence?

2 Answers 2

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Your choice depends on what you want to say. If both people wanted to buy a book together, you'd say

... They wanted to buy a book for Jim's father.

On the other hand if only Jim wants to buy a book (and his mother is just safeguarding him) then

... Jim wanted to buy a book for his father.

It is best to use "Jim" as a noun, either as the subject of the second sentence, or in the possessive at the end of the sentence.

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  • Title corrected 😁
    – user440901
    Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 1:32
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Either one is possible.

The pronoun "his" in the second sentence obviously refers to "Jim" alone. The book is being purchased for Jim's father. That is clear.

The pronoun at the beginning of the second sentence could refer to "Jim" only, or it could refer to "Jim and his mother." It depends on what meaning you want to impart:

  1. Jim wanted to buy a book for his father. Because he could not go to the store by himself, he went with his mother; "Jim and his mother" went to the store but only because Jim, singly, wanted to buy the book. In this case use the pronoun "He."
  2. Jim and his mother both wanted to buy a book for his father, as a joint gift. "Jim and his mother" went to the store so they could discuss which book to buy. In this case use the pronoun "They".

In either case, the pronoun will refer back to "Jim" or "Jim and his mother" from the first sentence. Neither one refers to "his" later in the second sentence. (Except in poetic or literary contexts, pronouns always refer to a noun or another pronoun which appears before them.)

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