Understand this important part of speech
Are pesky pronouns causing you grief in your English writing? Do you want to learn English grammar quickly? Relax—our ESL editing and proofreading professionals are here to help explain this troublesome part of speech.
What is a pronoun?
Pronouns are used in place of nouns. The purpose of pronouns is to avoid repetition and make sentences easier to understand. Some of the most common pronouns to remember when learning English as a second language are he, she, it, they, and this.
The seven types of pronouns
There are seven types of pronouns that both English and English as a second language writers must recognize: the personal pronoun, the demonstrative pronoun, the interrogative pronoun, the relative pronoun, the indefinite pronoun, the reflexive pronoun, and the intensive pronoun.
1. Personal pronouns refer to a specific person or thing. Their form changes to indicate a person, number, gender, or case.
- Subjective personal pronouns are pronouns that act as the subject of a sentence. If you are learning English as a second language, remember that the subjective personal pronouns are I, you, she, he, it, we, you, and they. For example:
"I walked directly to the party."
"You showed up late; she was annoyed."
"He thought you had forgotten; we knew you were just behind."
- Objective personal pronouns are pronouns that act as the object of a sentence. If you are learning English as a second language, remember that the objective personal pronouns are me, you, her, him, it, us, you, and them. For example:
- "The police officer told my brother and me to slow down."
- "He pointed to the pedestrians and said to be careful of them."
- "The police officer said there are a lot of speedy motorists like us."
- Possessive personal pronounsare pronouns that show possession. They define a person (or a number of people) who owns a particular object. If you are learning English as a second language, remember that the possessive personal pronouns are mine,yours,hers,his,its,ours, and theirs. For example:
- "Is this book yours or his?"
- "All the books are mine."
- "Nobody's house has as many books as theirs, not even ours."
2. Demonstrative pronouns point to and identify a noun or a pronoun. This and these refer to things that are nearby in space or time, while that and those refer to things that are farther away in space or further away in time. For example:
- "This is the dress I will wear; that is the one I wore yesterday."
- "That is not true."
"Please pay for those."
3. Interrogative pronouns are used to ask questions. The interrogative pronouns are who, whom, which, and what. If you are learning English as a second language, it is important to remember that who and whom are used to refer to people, while which is used to refer to things and animals. Who acts as the subject, while whom acts as the object. For example:
- "Which is the best restaurant?"
- "What did he tell you?"
- "Whom should we invite?"
4. Relative pronouns are used to link one phrase or clause to another phrase or clause. The relative pronouns are who, whom, that, and which. The compounds whoever, whomever, and whichever are also commonly used relative pronouns. For example:
- "Whoever added the bill made a mistake."
- "The bill, which included all our meals, was larger than expected."
- "The waiter who served us doesn't know how to add."
5. Indefinite pronouns refer to an identifiable, but not specified, person or thing. An indefinite pronoun conveys the idea of all, any, none, or some. If you are learning English as a second language, remember the following common indefinite pronouns: all, another, any, anybody, anyone, anything, each, everybody, everyone, everything, few, many, nobody, none, one, several, some, somebody, and someone. For example:
- "Everybody got lost on the way there."
- "Somebody forgot to bring the map."
- "No wonder so few showed up."
6. Reflexive pronouns refer back to the subject of the clause or sentence. The reflexive pronouns used in writing English are myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves. For example:
- "She baked a cake for herself."
- "We decided to eat it ourselves."
- "We heard her say, 'They should be ashamed of themselves.'"
7. Intensive pronounsare used to emphasize their antecedent. Intensive pronouns are identical in form to reflexive pronouns. For example:
- "I myself find pronouns fascinating."
- "They themselves think everyone should know about pronouns."
- "You yourself should tell everyone how great pronouns are."
Practice makes perfect when mastering pronouns
If you're still having trouble with pronouns, try submitting your document to our English editors. Our editors will ensure that all of your pronouns are perfect.
Image source: Joanna Kosinska/Stocksnap.io, LuisFico/BigStockPhoto.com
If you find yourself making common ESL mistakes, it's OK. English is one of the hardest languages to learn. Being such a blend of original language sources has led to a kaleidoscope of peculiar spellings for English words and the creation of several hundred homophones.
Let's examine some of the rules that dictate when apostrophes are used and where they should be placed in a word.
A free glossary of writing terms from Scribendi.com.
Back to Advice and Articles
What is a Subject Pronoun?
A subject pronoun is exactly what it sounds like: a pronoun that takes the place of a noun as the subject of a sentence. Remember, a sentence’s subject is the person or thing that performs the action of a verb. When you take an even closer look, you’ll see that a subject pronoun is used as the subject of a verb, while an object pronoun is usually used as a grammatical object.
Subject pronouns can be singular or plural, and they can be masculine, feminine, or gender neutral. The masculine or feminine subject pronoun is used when gender is known; when referring to an inanimate object, the gender-neutral form “it” is used. The subject pronoun “it” can be used to refer to animals of unspecific gender, and it is also appropriate to use the subject pronoun “it” to describe a baby of unknown gender. “It” is also used to talk about the weather, temperature, or time.
If you can find the subject of a sentence, then you can find a subject pronoun just as easily! Let’s go back to basics for a moment. Every complete sentence has a subject, a verb, and an object. The subject (or subject pronoun) is always a person, thing, place, or idea, or the plural of one of those, i.e. people, things, places, or ideas. The object or object pronoun is always on the receiving end of the action.
One of the easiest ways to identify a subject or subject pronoun is to remember that it is always going to be the who or what that has a direct effect on the action that’s taking place.
Subject Pronoun Examples
In the following examples, you can see exactly how this method works. The subject pronoun is in bold and is underlined, the verb is in italics, and the object is in bold.
- Wegave them a head start in the race.
- Youtold Jerry that his score was among the best; that made him feel better.
- Shelost weight by cutting out junk food.
- Theydrank water from a spring that ran right out of the mountainside.
Subject Pronouns Exercises
- __________ kicked the ball so hard that his shoe came off.
- Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think __________ enjoy studying.
- The dog stole Tara’s ice cream before __________ ran away.
- __________ enjoys going to the gym early each morning.
- __________ prefer hiking to movies.
- __________ is raining again.
- __________ puts ketchup on everything she eats.
- You can have ice cream after __________ finish your dinner.
- C – He kicked the ball so hard that his shoe came off.
- C – Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you enjoy studying.
- D – The dog stole Tara’s ice cream before it ran away.
- B – She enjoys going to the gym early each morning.
- C – We prefer hiking to movies.
- A – It is raining again.
- B – She puts ketchup on everything she eats.
- B – You can have ice cream after you finish your dinner.
<< Back to Pronouns