Topic: Who does "he" refer to in this sentence?

Joseph watched Andrew as he was led away.

In the above sentence, it's Andrew who is being led away. Is it clear that the pronoun is associated with Andrew, or does it refer to the subject of the sentence? I've seen it done both ways.

Thanks
Dirk

Re: Who does "he" refer to in this sentence?

Norm d'Plume wrote:

Joseph watched Andrew as he was led away.

In the above sentence, it's Andrew who is being led away. Is it clear that the pronoun is associated with Andrew, or does it refer to the subject of the sentence? I've seen it done both ways.

Thanks
Dirk

as a rule, the antecedent is the one closest to  the pronoun.  English very left-to-right word ordered.

Re: Who does "he" refer to in this sentence?

Thank you.

Re: Who does "he" refer to in this sentence?

"John watched the thief skulk away with his gold watch"

Re: Who does "he" refer to in this sentence?

I think there would be more information in the scene to clarify whose watch it is. Or, apply a little deep POV: the thief skulked away with John's gold watch. Gets rid of that pesky 'watched.'  Therefore, mine should be: they led Andrew away. I'll see if I can make that fit.

Re: Who does "he" refer to in this sentence?

Actually mine should say: Joseph studied Andrew as he was led away. Better yet: As they led Andrew away, Joseph studied him.

7 (edited by Charles_F_Bell 2016-12-15 01:41:16)

Re: Who does "he" refer to in this sentence?

Kdot wrote:

"John watched the thief skulk away with his gold watch"

That is an example of something different. Still left-to-right but the object of the active verb is the thief skulking away.

John watched {thief skulk away with his watch}

In line with the OP example:  John watched {his watch being taken by the thief.} The antecedent to "his" is clearly "John", not the thief.

Re: Who does "he" refer to in this sentence?

Norm d'Plume wrote:

Actually mine should say: Joseph studied Andrew as he was led away. Better yet: As they led Andrew away, Joseph studied him.

The origin of minor ambiguity lies in the sloppy (and passive) nature of he was led away when the subject (he/Andrew) is also the object of another action (led away) apart from the main subject {Joseph} and active verb (watched).  Your last version is good with two active verbs and no pronoun ambiguity but also formal and academia-ish.