Sentence Correction: Pronoun Questions - Overview and Grammatical Mistake

Since dogs may be attracted to alcoholic beverages left out by the motel guests, it is strongly recommended to keep drinks and bottles out of their reach at all times.


This answer choice is stylistically flawed. The pronoun their is ambiguous because it agrees with more than one noun (dogs, motel guests).


A pronoun in the main clause usually can not refer back to a noun mentioned in a modifier, as is the case here, and It is true that the they should not generally refer back to the noun of a preposition (by the hotel guests) as it makes more sense for the pronoun to refer back to the subject of the main clause but in this case the reference is somewhat feasible (although it can really be argued that it is a bit illogical too!) so it should be fixed if all other answers have been eliminated.


Notice that in this answer, the pronoun they. They is not ambiguous because it would not make sense that the recommendation would be made to the dogs! Therefore, they can only refer to the guests which would also therefore make the pronoun their non-ambiguous because it would be illogical to say the guests need to keep the drinks out of their own reach (the dogs would love that!). However, pay attention that although this answer is not necessarily **grammatically incorrect**, it uses the **passive voice** which is a **stylistic** error. [[snippet]]


While this answer choice corrects the original ambiguity mistake by replacing the ambiguous pronoun their with dogs', it is grammatically incorrect.

With the removal of the verb is, we now do not know what the pronoun it refers to. What does it replace in the sentence? In the original sentences, it is recommended makes sense as it is a pronoun subject replacement and therefore it needs no referent. But in the phrase it strongly recommended,  it is the active subject of the sentence with no referent.

The referent cannot be *motel* as here the word *motel* (in *motel guests*) acts like an **adjective**. [[snippet]]


This answer choice is grammatically incorrect. The singular pronoun its can only grammatically refer to motel, but this is not logical.

Since the phrase out of X's reach could only logically refer to dogs in the current context, the corrected sentence would require a plural pronoun.

Very good!

This answer choice corrects the original ambiguity mistake, by replacing their with dogs'. Note that replacing strongly with highly does not constitute a change of meaning as strongly and highly are synonyms in this case.

In addition, this answer is **stylistically** preferred as it uses the **active** rather than the **passive voice**.

it is strongly recommended to keep drinks and bottles out of their

they are strongly recommended to keep drinks and bottles out of their

it strongly recommended to keep drinks and bottles out of dogs'

it is highly recommended to keep drinks and bottles out of its

the motel highly recommends keeping drinks and bottles out of dogs'

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