Pronouns and Their Uses
Pronouns are words which take the place of nouns. There are eight types of pronouns (personal, indefinite, relative, interrogative, demonstrative, intensive, reflexive, and reciprocal). These tables present the different types of pronouns with examples.
|Subject Pronouns||Object Pronouns|
Personal pronouns refer to specific persons or things. The noun that a pronoun replaces or refers to is called an antecedent (from the Latin antecedens, to go before).
Example sentence without pronouns: Jane washed the dishes.
With a subject pronoun: She washed the dishes.
With an object pronoun: Jane washed them.
With both a subject and an object pronoun: She washed them.
Object pronouns are always used after a preposition. Prepositions are words like over, under, around, and through.
Tom walked through them.
Be alert when using the preposition between. Between often has two objects after it.
Mistake: Harry must chose between Connie and he.
Correct: Harry must chose between Connie and him.
|Used before a Noun||Used Alone|
Possessive pronouns show ownership.
Examples of use before a noun.
Examples when the pronoun is used alone.
The car is mine.
That slice of cake is all yours.
The house is theirs.
Note that his and its have the same form for both uses. Also note that none of the possessive pronouns have an apostrophe. Be careful not to confuse the contractions it’s (meaning: it is), you’re (meaning: you are) and they’re (meaning: they are) with the possessive pronouns its, your, and their.
Common Indefinite Pronouns
Indefinite pronouns do not refer to specific persons or things. They do not require an antecedent.
All are assembled for the service.
Most are not able to run as fast as Usain Bolt.
Special Singular Indefinite Pronouns
Like nouns, pronouns are singular and plural. Is goes with singular subjects and are goes with plural subjects.
He is blonde.
They are quick.
The pronouns above are special because they refer to groups of people but they take a singular verb.
Mistake: Everyone are coming to the party.
Correct: Everyone is coming to the party.
Because these pronouns are singular, other pronouns referring to them must be singular.
Mistake: Does everyone have their pencil?
Correct: Does everyone have his pencil?
Relative pronouns introduce subordinate clauses and refer to a noun or pronoun that the clause modifies.
She is the one who knitted the hat.
My neighbors pulled out the car that went into the ditch.
Interrogative pronouns introduce questions.
What is that thing?
Which apple would you like?
Demonstrative pronouns point to or identify particular people or things.
This tomato is ripe.
Those plates are the right size for dessert.
Intensive and Reflexive Pronouns
Intensive and reflexive pronouns have the same forms but perform different functions.
Intensive pronouns emphasize their antecedents.
The writer himself knew the poem did not rhyme.
Reflexive pronouns refer to a receiver of action who is the same as the doer.
He shot himself in the foot.
|each other||one another|
Reciprocal pronouns refer to separate parts of a plural antecedent.
We must look out for one another.
The husband and wife loved each other.