Apronoun takes the place of a noun. Like nouns, pronouns can refer to people, places, things, ideas, or abstractions. If a noun includes other words such as articles or modifiers, the pronoun takes the place of all those words closely associated with the noun.

  • Maria went shopping.
  • She went shopping.
  • Mrs. Yamato’s children found the lost dog.
  • They found it.

Types  of Pronoun

There are several types of pronoun, these are:

  • Personal (I, she, them, we, and so on)
  • Relative (that, who, whom, which)
  • Demonstrative (this, these, that, those)
  • Possessive (mine, yours, his)
  • Reflexive and Intensive (myself, himself, themselves, and so on)
  • Reciprocal (each other, one another)
  • Indefinite (someone, anybody, one, each, all, and so on)
  • Interrogative (who, whose, which)

Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns generally take the place of nouns that refer to people, although the third-person neutral pronoun it usually refers to things or animals. Personal pronouns can have two cases: nominative or objective.

Nominative case is used when the pronoun is the subject of a verb or is a subject complement, a noun or pronoun that follows a form of the verb to be and describes or explains the subject of the verb.

Objective case is used when the pronoun is the object of a verb or a preposition.

The following table shows nominative and objective case forms of personal pronouns, both singular and plural.

types of pronoun

Some examples of nominative personal pronouns include:

  • She was an excellent dancer.
  • If you want to go on the field trip, then you need to tell Mrs. Martin.
  • Are they prepared to do the job?

Some examples of objective personal pronouns include:

  • The teacher gave us a new project.
  • I asked them to help me paint the house.
  • The doctor told him to get more exercise.

Relative Pronouns

A relative pronoun introduces a subordinate clause that explains or describes a noun. This type of subordinate clause is called a relative clause.

Relative pronouns are who, whom, whose, which, and that. Usually the relative pronoun immediately follows its noun antecedent. In the following examples, the noun is underlined and the relative clause is in brackets.

  • This is the necklace [that my grandmother gave me].
  • Where is the man [whom you saw]?
  • A director [whose films were being honored] made an appearance at the film festival.

The relative pronouns who and whom refer to people. Whose, indicating possession, can refer to people, animals, or things. Which generally refers to things other than people, and that can refer to anything.

  • Correct: The children whom you saw were going to the museum.
  • Correct: The children that you saw were going to the museum.
  • Incorrect: The children which you saw were going to the museum.

The relative pronouns that, which, and who/whom can be omitted from a relative clause, but only if they do not form the subject of the relative clause.

  • Correct: The man [whom you met yesterday] is my business partner.
  • Correct: The man [you met yesterday] is my business partner.

You is the subject of the clause, so whom can be omitted.

  • Correct: The man [who introduced himself to you] is my business partner.
  • Incorrect: The man [introduced himself to you] is my business partner.

Who is the subject of the clause, so it cannot be omitted.

  • Correct: The man [whose card I gave you] is my business partner.
  • Incorrect: The man [card I gave you] is my business partner.

Whose can never be omitted from a relative clause.

Closely related to relative pronouns are relative adverbs, which can also introduce relative clauses. Common relative adverbs are when, why, how, and where.

Unlike relative pronouns, relative adverbs can never be the subject of a clause. Adverbs are modifiers, and modifiers cannot act as subjects.

  • The lot where I park my car has no shade. (Where introduces the relative clause “I park my car.” The subject of the clause is I.)
  • The day when we first met was rainy and cold.(When introduces the relative clause “we first met.” The subject of the clause is we. It would also be acceptable to omit when: “The day we first met. . . ” )

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns point out (or “demonstrate”) a noun antecedent.

  • This is my favorite song.
  • That was a day to remember.

This (plural form these) often indicates something nearer to the speaker, while that (plural form those) indicates something farther away. This and that are also used in contrast to each other.

  • This is my notebook, but that is Trina’s notebook.

The antecedent of a demonstrative pronoun is often omitted or may be implied from the context.

  • Which earrings do you like best? These are nice, but I think those are the prettiest.
  • I wish you would not do that.

When using demonstrative pronouns in your writing, make sure that the antecedents are clear. Demonstrative pronouns can easily become vague and meaningless.

  • We are going to a movie after we finish our homework. That will be fun. (What will be fun? Going to a movie, or finishing our homework?)

This/these and that/those can also be used as demonstrative adjectives, to modify nouns.

  • Demonstrative adjective: This car belongs to Trina. (This modifies the noun car.)
  • Demonstrative pronoun: This is Trina’s car, not mine. (This, acting as the subject of the sentence, stands in for the noun car.)

Possessive Pronouns

Possessive forms of pronouns indicate ownership.

  • That guitar is his, although I have one that looks just like it.
  • If you forgot your key, I can lend you mine.

Possessive adjectives are closely related to possessive pronouns; however, possessive adjectives act as modifiers for nouns, while possessive pronouns act as nouns.

  • Possessive adjective: Your coat is hanging in the closet. (Your modifies the noun coat.)
  • Possessive pronoun: The coat in the closet is yours. (Yours is a pronoun; coat is its antecedent.)

The following table shows the possessive adjectives and pronouns for first, second, and third person.

types of pronouns with examples

Reflexive and Intensive Pronouns

Reflexive pronouns are used when the object of a verb in a sentence is the same as its subject.

  • I told myself it would never work.
  • He cut himself shaving.

Reflexive pronouns do not change forms for case.

The following table shows singular and plural reflexive pronouns for first, second, and third persons.

types of pronoun with examples

Intensive pronouns are identical in form to reflexive pronouns, but they are used for emphasis, to intensify the meaning of the sentence. In such cases, the sentence would make sense even if the intensive pronoun was omitted.

  • Correct: No one else would clean the kitchen, so I did it myself.
  • Correct: No one else would clean the kitchen, so I did it.

Informal, spoken English sometimes replaces simple personal pronouns with reflexive/intensive forms, even though the reflexive pronoun is not needed:

  • Informal: Liu and myself interviewed the applicant. (Liu and I interviewed the applicant.)
  • Informal: A person like yourself would do well in this job. (A person like you would do well in this job.)

In formal writing, however, reflexives should only be used where they are grammatically required, as many teachers and editors frown upon the misuse of reflexives. Reflexives should not replace personal pronouns, but supplement them.

Reciprocal Pronouns

The reciprocal pronouns each other and one another are used to indicate a mutual or “reciprocal” action by the subjects of the verb. The two pronouns are used interchangeably.

  • My sister and I help each other study for our college classes.
  • If the players would cooperate with one another, the team would win more games.

Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns do not refer to a specific antecedent. Instead, they refer to people, places, things, or ideas in a general way.

  • Nobody likes a sore loser.
  • Do not worry about anything.

Common indefinite pronouns include the following: all, either, neither, one, oneself, any, anyone, anybody, anything, few, no one, none, nobody, both, everyone, everybody, everything, other, others, each, many, most some, someone, somebody.

Most indefinite pronouns, such as nobody, someone, or anything, are treated as singular and, therefore, take singular verbs.

  • Someone is playing a trick on you.
  • Anything is possible.

The indefinite pronouns everyone, everybody, and everything are also considered singular. The presence of the word “every” does not make them plural.

  • Everyone is going on the field trip.
  • Everything was ready for the party.

Exceptions are both, many, few, all, some, and others, which are treated as plural.

  • Many are called, but few are chosen.

Many indefinite pronouns can also be used as adjectives, modifying nouns.

  • Few plants are tough enough to grow in an arctic environment. (Few modifies plants.)
  • Each antique plate is now safe in the cupboard. (Each modifies antique plate.)

Like indefinite pronouns, collective nouns such as group, team, or jury, pose agreement problems. Collective nouns may be singular or plural, depending on the context.

Interrogative Pronouns

Interrogative pronouns introduce questions.

  • What is the answer?
  • Which color do you like best?

Interrogative pronouns are who/whom/whose, which, and what. The pronoun who/whom always refers to people, and whose indicates possession.

Remember that the same rules regarding who and whom as relative pronouns apply to them as interrogative pronouns. If the interrogative pronoun is the subject, use who; if it is the object, use whom.

  • Whom did you see there? (you saw whom –>whom is the object)
  • Who brought the cake? (who brought it –>who is the subject)
  • Whose sweater is this?
  • Which refers to one item out of a group, or a specific item.
  • Which puppy do you want to buy?
  • Which of the players is your son?
  • Which woman sang the solo?
  • What refers broadly to things, ideas, concepts, actions, or abstractions.
  • What are you doing?
  • What did he say?
  • What time is it?

Other interrogative words used to introduce questions are when, where, why, and how (sentence types: declarative, imperative, and interrogative moods). These words act as adverbs rather than pronouns.

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