What is a pronoun?
A pronoun is a word which is used in place of a proper noun or a common noun. Generally, a pronoun takes the place of a particular noun. The pronoun refers to its antecedent. A pronoun helps us avoid unnecessary repetition in our writing and speech.
In other words, words that can be used instead of a noun are called pronouns. The word “pronoun” means “for a noun”.
Let’s understand pronouns with the help of a these example sentences:
- Look at Mike. Mike is a good boy.
- Mike loves to study. Mike is good at skating.
Instead of Mike we can use ‘he‘.
Now read these sentences again:
- Look at Mike. He is a good boy.
- He loves to study. He is good at skating.
The word ‘he‘ takes the place of Mike and is called pronoun.
Types of Pronouns
- Personal Pronouns
- Reflexive Pronouns
- Emphatic Pronouns
- Relative Pronouns
- Interrogative Pronouns
- Indefinite Pronouns
- Demonstrative Pronouns
- Possessive Pronouns
Enjoy reading this humorous folk tale. The pronouns have been highlighted with purple colour.
The people of a beautiful town called Rye determined one day that there was no point in all of them worrying about their various problems.
“Let us employ a Worry Man. He will have the liability to worry for all of us,” said the mayor.
Everyone hailed it as a good initiative. They selected a sweeper for the job. According to them, he seemed to have a lot of time on his hands to worry all through the day. They decided to go and meet him.
“How much will I be paid?” he wanted to know when they explained the nature of the work to him.
“Hmmm… one penny a week,” said the mayor.
“It won’t work,” said the sweeper.
“Why not?” asked the mayor.
“Because if you give me one pound a week,” he explained, “I,ll have nothing to worry about!”
(Adapted from a witty folk tale)
Personal pronouns are used to replace nouns or noun phrases.
Personal pronouns stand for three persons:
- First Person
- Second Person
- Third Person
Personal pronoun of the first person stands for the person(s) speaking.
(I, we, me, us)
- This car belongs to us.
- I won the award.
- The matter is between Chris and me.
- We shall stand by the truth.
Personal pronoun of the second person stands for the person(s) spoken to.
(You, thou, thee)
- Why are you crying?
- It is to thee that I owe a debt of gratitude.
- Only you are allowed to attend the party.
- Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Personal pronoun of the third person stands for the person(s) spoken of.
(He, she, it, they, them, him, her)
- I heard him telling them about the movie.
- He agreed to look after the baby.
- The headmistress likes her a lot.
- She asked me to review it by this evening.
- They went to the museum.
- It is an endangered species now.
- They were planning to hide it under the bed.
Personal pronouns for people: I, you, he, she, we, they, me, you, him, her, us, them
Personal pronouns for things and animals: it, they, them
Reflexive pronouns are pronouns where the subject and the object are the same person(s), i.e. when the action of the verb refers back to the doer. Reflexive pronouns are formed by using ‘self’ in the singular and ‘selves’ in the plural.
Reflexive Pronouns List
- John reminded himself that he had to try harder.
- You are old enough to dress yourself.
- Suddenly, I found myself in a dark corner.
- The dog covered itself with dirt.
- She contradicted herself, unknowingly.
- They were discussing amongst themselves.
- The only people there were ourselves.
Emphatic pronouns are pronouns used for highlighting, stressing or emphasizing the noun or pronoun that comes before it. An emphatic pronoun can be omitted without changing the sense of a sentence.
Emphatic Pronouns List
- Joseph himself went to check the gate.
- He himself is responsible for those low grades.
- Jane herself looks into the nitty-gritty of running the house.
- They themselves admitted to their mistakes.
- The book itself tells you all about pronouns.
- I myself am a slow walker.
- The children themselves made the plan.
- The village itself is very small.
- We ourselves will be completing the assignment.
- Ruskin Bond himself is a great author.
Relative pronouns are used to join sentences or clauses, and they refer back to the nouns going before them.
Relative Pronouns List
- This is the lady who helped me.
- This is the book that my mother wrote.
- There is the man whose horse won the race.
- This is the house which belongs to my great-grandfather.
- This is the person whom we met at the party.
- This is the letter box that I was talking about.
- A chair is a piece of furniture which we use for sitting.
- I found the ring that I thought I had lost.
- Jack is the boy whose sister is a famous tennis player.
- This is the boy who scored the highest marks.
In relative pronouns we use the following pronoun words:
- For people: who, whom
- For animals and thing: which
- And to show possession: whose, that
Interrogative pronouns ask questions. Compound interrogative pronouns (those ending in ‘ever’) are used to express surprise, confusion, irritation, etc.
Interrogative Pronoun List
- Who is there at the door?
- Which is your book?
- Whatever are you doing?
- Who is making noise?
- Whom were you speaking to?
- Whichever came first?
- Whose is this dress?
- What do you mean?
- Whoever came to the shop?
- Whomever should tom invite?
An indefinite pronoun refers to an indefinite or general person or thing. These pronouns refer to people in a vague and general meaning.
Indefinite Pronouns List
- Nobody attended the meeting.
- Something is wrong there.
- Everyone was smiling.
- He never does favour to others.
- Everything was told prior to the meeting.
- Many of them were injured.
An indefinite pronoun can stand for singular, plural or at times for both. The following lists some indefinite pronouns terms that are commonly used.
- no one
Singular or Plural
- Every season one of the racers attempts to break Schumacher’s record. (Singular)
- Both have paid homage to their great ancestors. (Plural)
- All of the players we count on are out of form. (Plural)
- Almost all the money in my bank account has been spent. (Singular)
Demonstrative pronouns point out people or objects. There are four demonstrative pronouns.
Demonstrative Pronouns List
- Those are my neighbour’s dogs.
- This is my bicycle.
- These are cakes and those are burgers.
- That is my bag.
- In those days, we were young and innocent.
- This is a present from my uncle.
- Those keen to attend the magic show may come along.
- That is the sound of a factory siren.
- Are those your classmates?
- That is not the best thing to do.
When these words appear before nouns, they become demonstrative adjectives. For example:
- This car is better than that.
- These animals are wilder than those.
In above sentences, ‘this’ and ‘these’ are demonstrative adjectives, and ‘that’ and ‘those’ are demonstrative adjectives, and ‘that’ and ‘those’ are demonstrative pronouns.
A possessive pronoun points towards the owner of something.
Possessive Pronouns List
- The blue hat is mine. Yours is on the upper shelf.
- My aunt is a Graphic Designer. This computer is hers.
Often the words used as possessive pronouns are slight modifications of the words used as possessive adjectives. So, we may get confused at times.
Remember, that there is a major distinction between them. While possessive pronouns are used in place of nouns, possessive adjectives modify or describe nouns.
- This dress is mine.
- This is my dress .
- That school is hers.
- This is her school.
- This house is theirs.
- This is their house.
In these sentences ‘mine’, ‘hers’ and ‘theirs’ are possessive pronouns, and ‘my’, ‘her’ and ‘their’ are possessive adjectives.