There are several things to remember when using pronouns:
- Pronouns replace nouns.
- Pronouns are usually short words.
- Pronouns are used to avoid a repetitive style of writing.
The most common group of pronouns are called personal pronouns such as he, she, and they. This page will also look at other groups of pronouns you can use in your writing.
Word examples: I, you, he, she, it, we, they and who.
Function: to indicate the subject or object in a sentence
Commentary: When a personal pronoun is the subject of a verb it is said to be in the subjective form.
For example: I cycled to work
Remember: When a personal pronoun is not the subject of a verb it is in the objective form (i.e., me, you, him, her, it, us, them and whom)
For example: Give it to me.
Word examples: this, that, these, and those.
Function: to demonstrate or point out specific things.
For example: This is not my laptop. That is mine.
Remember: ‘This’ and ‘that’ refer to singular nouns. ‘Whereas’, ‘these’ and ‘those’ refer to plural nouns.
Word examples: who, whom, which, and what.
Function: to ask questions. The interrogative pronoun represents the thing that the question is about.
For example: Who won the race? To whom am I speaking? Which one is yours? What are you doing?
Remember: ‘Whoever’,’ whomever’, ‘whichever’, ‘whatever’, and ‘whose’ are also interrogative pronouns.
The versions with the suffix ‘-ever’ are used for emphasis or to show surprise. However, these pronouns are used less frequently nowadays.
Word examples: all, any, anyone, anything, each, everybody, everyone, everything, few, many, nobody, none, one, several, some, somebody, and someone.
Function: refers to a non-specific person or thing. Conveys the idea of all, any, none or some.
For example: Everyone in the library must remain seated.
Word examples: my, your, his, her, its, our and their.
Function: to indicate who owns something.
For example: Take her mug and put it by your bowl.
Word example: each other and one another.
Function: used for an action or feeling that is reciprocated.
For example: You can text each other as much as you like outside the lecture theatre.
Word examples: who, whom, that, which, where, when.
Function: to link one phrase or clause to another word in the sentence.
For example: I cannot find the woman who rescued the kitten.
Remember: ‘Whoever’, ‘whomever’ and ‘whichever’ are also relative pronouns.
Word examples: myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves and themselves.
Function: refers back to another noun or pronoun in the sentence.
For example: Harriet still does not congratulate herself when she does well.
Word examples: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves and themselves. Formed by adding "-self" or "-selves" to an appropriate pronoun (eg/ him, them, etc.).
Function: for emphasis.
For example: Listen! I will sing it myself.