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What is a pronoun?

Pronouns are some of the most useful words in the English language. They are used in the place of a noun to avoid it having to be named twice. For example: Salman threw the ball and it came back to him. In this sentence, “it” is a pronoun that represents the ball, and “him” is a pronoun that refers to Salman. Without pronouns, we would have to say Salman threw the ball and the ball came back to Salman.

Definition of Pronoun

In English, the part of speech used as a substitute for an antecedent noun that is clearly understood, and with which it agrees in person, number, and gender. Pronouns are classified as personal (I, we, you, he, she, it, they), demonstrative (this, these, that, those), relative (who, which, that, as), indefinite (each, all, everyone, either, one, both, any, such, somebody), interrogative (who, which, what), reflexive (myself, herself), possessive (mine, yours, his, hers, theirs). There are also pronominal adjectives, sometimes called possessive adjectives (my, your, his, her, our, their).

Subjective Pronouns

Subjective pronouns are used to replace the subject in a sentence. You might also see them called “personal” pronouns, as they designate the person speaking (I, me, we, us), the person spoken to (you), or the person or thing spoken about (he, she, it, they, him, her, them).

The following commonly used words are subjective pronouns:

  • I
  • we
  • you (singular and plural)
  • he
  • she
  • it
  • they

Examples of Personal Pronoun

I will be leaving soon.

You are welcome.

She is the new teacher.

He speaks three languages.

They are very friendly neighbors.

Objective Pronouns

Objective pronouns are used as the object of a verb or a preposition.

The following commonly used words are objective pronouns:

  • me
  • us
  • you (singular and plural)
  • her
  • him
  • it
  • them

Examples of Objective Pronoun

They offered me a ride. (“Me” is the object of the verb “offered.”)

This letter is addressed to me. (“Me” is the object of the preposition “to.”)

They gave us free tickets to the show. (“Us” is the object of the verb “gave.”)

Possessive Pronouns

A possessive pronoun designates ownership and can substitute for noun phrases.

The following commonly used words are possessive pronouns:

  • mine
  • ours
  • yours (singular and plural)
  • hers
  • his
  • theirs

Examples of Possessive Pronoun

The green gloves are mine.

That cat is hers.

The red house is theirs.

Possessive Adjectives / Pronominal Adjectives

“Pronominal” describes something that resembles a pronoun, as by specifying a person, place, or thing, while functioning primarily as another part of speech. A pronominal adjective is an adjective that resembles a pronoun. “Her” in “her car” is a pronominal adjective.

The following commonly used words are possessive adjectives:

  • my
  • our
  • your
  • her
  • his
  • their
  • Reflexive Pronouns
  • Reflexive pronouns might be the easiest group to remember because they all have one thing in common: the ending “self” or “selves.” That’s because reflexive pronouns show how the actions of an aforementioned person or group affects him or her (or them).
  • The following commonly used words are reflexive pronouns:
  • myself
  • yourself
  • herself
  • himself
  • itself
  • ourselves
  • yourselves
  • themselves
  • Examples of Reflexive Pronoun
  • I bought myself a new car.
  • That man thinks a great deal of himself.
  • We may be deceiving ourselves.
  • Intensive Pronouns
  • Intensive and reflexive pronouns are actually the exact same words (ending with “self” or “selves”), but they function differently in a sentence. Intensive pronouns not only refer back to a previously mentioned person or people, but they also emphasize. As their name suggests, they intensify.
  • The following commonly used words are intensive pronouns:
  • myself
  • yourself
  • herself
  • himself
  • itself
  • ourselves
  • yourselves
  • themselves
  • Examplesof Intensive Pronoun
  • I myself was certain of the facts.
  • The trouble is in the machine itself.
  • The cooks themselves eat after all the guests have finished.
  • Indefinite Pronouns
  • As the word “indefinite” suggests, these pronouns do not specify the identity of their referents. They are vaguer than other pronouns.
  • The following commonly used words are indefinite pronouns:
  • all
  • another
  • any
  • anybody
  • anyone
  • anything
  • both
  • each
  • either
  • everybody
  • everyone
  • everything
  • few
  • many
  • most
  • neither
  • nobody
  • none
  • no one
  • nothing
  • one
  • other
  • others
  • several
  • some
  • somebody
  • someone
  • something
  • such
  • Examplesof Indefinite Pronouns
  • Both were candidates.
  • No one is home.
  • Several of the workers went home sick.
  • Demonstrative Pronouns
  • Demonstrative pronouns specify a particular person or thing.
  • The following commonly used words are demonstrative pronouns:
  • such
  • that
  • these
  • this
  • those
  • Examplesof Demonstrative Pronouns
  • I don’t much care for these.
  • Who’s that?
  • Such are the fortunes of war.
  • Interrogative Pronouns
  • This group of pronouns question which individual referent or referents are intended by the rest of the sentence.
  • The following commonly used words are interrogative pronouns:
  • what
  • whatever
  • which
  • whichever
  • who
  • whoever
  • whom
  • whomever
  • whose
  • Examples of Interrogative Pronoun
  • Who left?
  • Which of these is yours?
  • Do whatever you please.
  • Relative Pronouns
  • Relative pronouns introduce a dependent clause and refer to an antecedent (simply the word or phrase to which a pronoun refers). For instance, who in the child who is wearing a hat or that in the house that you live in.
  • The following commonly used words are relative pronouns:
  • as
  • that
  • what
  • whatever
  • which
  • whichever
  • who
  • whoever
  • whom
  • whomever
  • whose
  • Examplesof Relative Pronoun
  • The car that has a flat tire needs to be towed.
  • The visitor who came yesterday left his phone number.
  • Do whatever you like.
  • Archaic Pronouns
  • There are several pronouns that have fallen out of common usage but appear frequently in older texts, so there is still a good chance that you will encounter them. “Thee” is an old word for “you” used only when addressing one person, while “thy” is an old word for “your.” “Thine” indicates the one or ones belonging to thee.
  • The following commonly used words are archaic pronouns:
  • thou
  • thee
  • thy
  • thine
  • Examplesof Archaic Pronoun
  • Thou shalt not kill.
  • With this ring, I thee wed.
  • Thy name is more hateful than thy face.
  • To thine own self be true.

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