Pronouns

Pronouns

December 21 2020 05:57:16 PM

You cannot start a sentence with a pronoun if the noun to which it refers was not first mentioned in a previous sentence.

For example:

Talia wants to improve her communication skills. She has booked into a course.

She wants to improve her communication skills. She has booked into a course.

  • In the second example above, you would be asking – who wants to improve their communication skills? Therefore, you never start a sentence with a pronoun if you don’t know who that pronoun refers to.

  • Pronouns can only be used once the noun, or proper noun has been introduced in an earlier sentence.

There are six main categories of pronouns:

  1. Demonstrative
  2. Indefinite
  3. Interrogative
  4. Personal
  5. Reflexive
  6. Relative

  1. Demonstrative

A demonstrative pronoun is a word that points to a specific noun within a sentence. It can describe objects in time and space, and it can be both singular and plural.

This, that, these and those are the four most common demonstrative pronouns in the English language. We also includeneither, none, and such into the mix. Here are just two simple rules to remember when deciding if you should use any of these demonstrative pronouns:

  1. Demonstrative pronouns can stand alone in a sentence, whereas demonstrative adjectives can not. A demonstrative adjective (DA) would be – ‘This orange was really sweet’, whereas a demonstrative pronoun (DP) would be – ‘This is sweet’‘.

    DA – This orange is sweet. (Which orange? There are two on the table.)

    DP – This is sweet. (We already know which orange we’re talking about.)

  2. Demonstrative pronouns always identify nouns.

This – singular (near)

These – plural (near)

That – singular (further away)

Those – plural (further away)

Neither

Neither person wants to speak.

None

None of the doctors are available right now.

Such

Such is life.

[Such here refers to lots of challenges. They don’t need to
all be mentioned because there are too many.]

Ex: This flower – the lily – is beautiful.

Which flower? The lily.

The lily’s rich white petals are amazing. This flower is beautiful.

These plants need watering.

Which plants? The ones in my garden.

My agapanthus, roses and ferns look dry. These plants need watering.

That is what I call a car!

Which car? The new Porsche in the showroom.

The new Porsche has lots of great functions. That is what I call a car!

Thosechildren are playing.

Which children? The children in the school playground.

Jenny, Ben and Scott have come inside, but Simon, Matilda and Lisa are still outside.

Those children are playing.

Neither, none and such

These words are generally used in the negative sense and
fall into the demonstrative category.

  • Sandy and Kim will go inside. Neither wants to play anymore.

  • This street is full of restaurants, yet none of them are Mexican.

  • You can’t win them all; such is life!

  • (‘Such’ refers to the many challenges that life brings.)


  1. Indefinite

An indefinite pronoun is used to refer to an unspecified group, or assumed group of people or things.

Any

We don’t have any money.

Anybody

Anybody can join the club.

Anyone

Does anyone know who owns this jumper?

Anything

There isn’t anything in my pocket.

Each

Each person has to pay on entry.

Either

You can have either pasta or potato with your meal.

Everybody

Everybody is seated and waiting for the movie to start.

Everyone

Everyone
needs to vote.

Everything

We have packed everything into the car.

Neither

Neither of the books is useful.

No one

No one is on the bus.

Nobody

Nobody volunteered to stay back and clean.

Nothing

There was nothing left on the plate.

One

Steven is one of a kind.

Some

Some
believe in ghosts.

Somebody

Will somebody please clean the table?

Someone

Surely someone saw something?

Something

Peter thought he saw something under the car.


  1. Interrogative

An interrogative pronoun is used to ask questions to seek clarity.

Who

Person

Subject

Whom

Person

Object

Whose

Person

Possessive

Which

Person/thing

What

Thing

Subject

Who

Who was speaking?

John was speaking.

Object

Whom

To whom were you speaking?

I was speaking to John.

Who

Who opened the door?

Whom

To whom was the speech addressed?

Whose

Whose jacket is this?

Which

Which movie were you talking about?

What

What was the name of that book?


  1. Personal

We use personal pronouns in place of nouns to avoid overusing them in
writing.

Example:

  • Sue joined a dancing group. Sue loved going every Friday where Sue learned a number of styles. Sue’s favourite style of dancing was Ceroc.

  • Sue joined a dancing group. She loved going every Friday where she learned a number of styles. Her favourite style of dancing was Ceroc.

Singular Personal Pronouns

Subject

Object

Possessive

I

Me

My, mine

You

You

Your, yours

He, she, it

Him, her, it

His, her, hers, its

Plural Personal Pronouns

Subject

Object

Possessive

We

Us

Our, ours

You

You

Your, yours

They

Them

Their, theirs

More examples:

  • The dog barked all morning. It finally stopped by 11.30 am.

  • I was happy with my painting. I think mine was the most abstract.

  • Did you call me this morning?

  • Daniel finished being interviewed. He was happy with his answers.

  • The time came when Louise had to go to the dentist. She was nervous.

  • We waited 10 minutes when the waiter said our table was ready.

  • I told you how much I loved your cooking. You are a good cook.

  • The demonstrators were told to move on. They made too much racket.

  • The band was great. The audience couldn’t get enough of them.


  1. Reflexive

When the subject and object of a sentence are the same, we use a reflexive
pronoun to make reference.

Subject

Reflexive pronoun (objects)

I

Myself

You

Yourself

She

Herself

He

Himself

It

Itself

We

Ourselves

You

Yourselves (plural)

They

Themselves

Examples:

I burnt myself while out in the sun.

You know yourself that eating too much puts on weight.

Liz bought herself a new dress.

Ben carried all the suitcases to the car himself.

The car alarm turned off itself after five minutes.

We spoiled ourselves with a new dinning suite.

You know yourselves that it takes effort to organise a function.

The kids walked to school by themselves.

When we use a preposition of location, we don’tuse a reflexive pronoun. We use a personal pronoun.

Prepositions of location are – under, on, near, behind, next to, between, on, in front of, in.

Examples:

Danny put his bag under him.

Danny put his bag under himself.

Sue put on her hat.

Sue put on herself hat.

Leon cleared the table near him.

Leon cleared the table near himself.

Diane moved the chair behind her.

Diane moved the chair behind herself.

He put the rubbish in the bin next to him.

He put the rubbish in the bin next to himself.

Lisa put the pizza between her and Tom.

Lisa put the pizza between herself and Tom.

Rebecca told her friends at the pub that drinks were on her.

Rebecca told her friends at the pub that drinks were on herself.

Jack grabbed the table in front of him at the busy food hall.

Jack grabbed the table in front of himself at the busy food hall.


  1. Relative
  • A relative pronoun joins a phrase or a clause to a noun or a pronoun.

  • It usually joins an adjective clause to a noun or another pronoun.

  • A relative pronoun within a phrase often acts like a noun within a sentence, not just a linking word.

Here are the most commonly used relative pronouns that relate to someone or something very specific:

  • That

  • Which

  • Who

  • Whom

  • Whose

Examples:

Subject

Adjectival phrase

Verb

Leonardo da Vinci,

who
painted the Mona Lisa,

is famous for many achievements

The students,

to whom the teacher spoke,

weren’t listening.

The house

that
Jack built,

was finally finished.

The car

that
broke down,

stopped running.

The house,

which
was demolished,

collapsed quickly.

Samantha,

whose
car was stolen,

was returned to her by the police

The following words represent groups of people or things that are clustered together from which a single person or thing is chosen.

  • Whatever

  • Whichever

  • Whoever

  • Whomever

  • * Whatsoever usually emphasizes a particular point.

Sam didn’t like eating meat, whatsoever.

[Whatsoever relates to Sam’s huge dislike of meat.]

Order whatever you like on the menu.

[Whatever relates to all the food on the menu.]

I don’t mind which beer; choose whichever.

[Whichever relates to all the beer choices on the menu.]

Whoever wants to go first is O.K. with me.

[Whoever relates to all the people present in this conversation, and it’s the subject of the sentence.]

Whomever Doris fed, always loved her cooking.

[Whomever is the object of the sentence; the people accepting the action of being fed. We could easily say – All of Doris’ guests loved her cooking, whomever she fed.’]

Erlkis Team