#3 in Larry Edwards’ common errors list: Pronounflagration: Pronoun Profusion, Confusion, and Contusion.

Polishing Your Prose

From the Editor’s Eye
The 10 Most Common Errors Made by Writers
(And How to Fix Them)

The eighth of a ten-part series.

#3. Pronounflagration: Pronoun Profusion, Confusion, and Contusion

When you write something, you know your intent, what it is you mean to say. Your readers, however, may not. This can be particularly true when using pronouns, those shorthand words we use in place of nouns and names: I, me, he, she, him, her, it, and so on.

When your story or narrative includes multiple characters, especially of the same sex, your reader can get befuddled over a barrage of he said, he said, they said.


Profusion leads to confusion.

Too many pronouns can confuse (and maybe even amuse) your readers.

For example:

  • Profusion: Mark put his hands on the mare’s neck. The sadness he saw in her eyes tore at his heart and he wanted to do…

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