Pronouns are words that we use in place of Nouns (or other Pronouns) in a sentence to make it less repetitive and less awkward. Some of the most common Pronouns are - he, she, you, they, it, etc. These Pronouns are divided into different categories based on their use -

Personal Pronouns

These pronouns are used for a specific object or person and they change their forms to indicate the different genders, numbers, case and persons speaking -

- Tanya told him to take the food to them as soon as possible as it was urgently needed.

- ‘Him’ is a Pronoun of gender.

‘Them’ is a Pronoun of number showing that there is more than one person, and it is also a Pronoun of case as it is referring to a specific group in an objective manner.

‘It’ is also a Pronoun of gender showing the object (food).

So we can see that the Personal Pronouns can be based on -

Gender –

- He went to the market.

He is used for the male gender. Other examples are - His, Him, He, etc.

- She is doing the laundry.

She is used for the female gender. Other examples are - Her, Hers, etc.

- It is important to them.

It is gender neutral as it shows an object, them is also gender neutral as them can consist of both genders. Other gender neutral pronouns are - Their, They, Its, etc.

Number –

Singular Pronouns - Where the pronoun is only referring to one specific noun.

- That book belongs to me.

Me refers to one singular person only.

Plural Pronouns - Where the pronoun is used to refer to a number of nouns.

- That is their book, not yours.

Their shows a number of people, hence it’s a plural personal pronoun. Whereas the ‘yours’ in this sentence is another example of singular personal pronoun.

Cases -

Subjective Case -

- She is at work.

‘She’ is the main subject of the sentence, hence in this sentence, ‘she’ is the subjective personal pronoun. You can ask the question ‘who/what is doing ______?’ to recognize whether a pronoun is subjective or objective.

Objective Case -

- He will meet us later.

‘Us’ is the objective personal noun as it the object of the verb meet. ‘He’ is the subject as he is the person who will be doing the action of meeting.

Possessive Case -

- That is our clubhouse.

‘Our’ shows the possession of the object ‘clubhouse’. Possessive pronouns can also be used to show possession over people.

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative Pronouns are used to show or identify one or a number of nouns that may be far or near in distance or time. They are only four in number - This, That, These and Those. This and That are singular demonstrative pronouns and These and Those are plural demonstrative pronouns. They can also be used to show an unspecified quantity in a sentence.

- That is a beautiful house.

That is a demonstrative pronoun that is referring to a specific noun (house). This is a singular pronoun as it is referring to only one house.

These were made by me. - These is showing an unspecified quantity of something that was made by a person. This is a plural demonstrative pronoun as it’s referring to a number of objects.

Everyone remembers those days. - Those is showing a particular time or period of days in the past; it is being used in place of a noun that could be - school, summer, college, etc. Here also those is a plural demonstrative pronoun as it’s indicating a number of days.

This is what he is charging? - This is used as pronoun in place of a number and it is also acting as a quantifier by referring not only to the noun but to the amount/number of the noun as well. This is a singular demonstrative pronoun.

Interrogative Pronouns

Who, Whom, Which and What are Interrogative Pronouns as they are used to ask questions about a person or object that we do not know about. Compounds of these words are made by attaching ‘-ever’ to the words to strengthen the emphasis on the word.

Which one would you like? - Here, ‘which’ is being used to ask someone to make a choice between different things, instead of naming every single choice that is available.

What is your name? - What is used to ask a personal noun that the speaker doesn’t know.

Who will be managing the buffet? - Who is used to ask about a specific person related to a task.

Whom did you tell about this? - Whom is showing/asking the person who was told something by ‘you’.

Whoever could have done this? - Whoever is the compound of ‘Who’ and it is used here to emphasise the feeling of confusion in the sentence while still asking a question.

Whichever one will you choose? - Whichever is used here to show strong emotion while asking a person’s choice.

In the case of Who and Whom -

Who is always the subject of the verb. The emphasis is on the identity of the person who did the action.

Who rang the bell? Here, we can see that the verb phrase rang the bell is secondary and the main emphasis is on the identity of the person ringing the bell.

Whom is never the subject of the verb. It is used to show the person to or for whom the action is being done. In other words, it is the object of the verb.

Whom were you meeting with? Here, we can see that the subject of verb or the person who was meeting someone is ‘you’. Whom is the object of the verb or the person ‘you’ were ‘meeting’.

Relative Pronouns

Relative Pronouns are used to join or relate two different clauses together by referring to the noun in the previous clause using the pronouns - Who, Whom, Whose, Which and That.

Which and That are generally used for objects; while Who and Whom are used for people, and Whose is used to show possession.

She will choose the colour which looks good on everyone.

Here, which is joining the two related clauses about choosing a colour and a colour which would look good on everyone.

She is complaining to whoever she comes across nowadays.

Here, the whoever is the object of the verb ‘complaining’ and it is linking the two clauses about someone complaining and the frequency of their complaints.

There is a car in the parking lot that someone has painted a bright pink.

That is joining the two sentences related to the object and its location in the first and its appearance in the second.

She needs to know by tomorrow who will be accompanying her on the trip.

Who here stands for the unknown person and it also joins the two different clauses together.

Is there anyone here whose mobile phone has a signal?

Whose is used here to ask if anyone has possession of something that the speaker needs.

Indefinite Pronouns

These pronouns are used to show unspecified objects or people, whether in plural or in singular. They are used to indicate the entire noun or some of the noun or none of the noun. They are used when we want to refer to group of nouns without actually specifying who or how much.

Some common indefinite nouns are - anyone, someone, none, everything, many, few, etc.

If anyone has seen my notebook please return it to me. – Here, we see the pronoun anyone is being used to refer to everyone without any specification.

A few of the members were not satisfied with the service. - Few means a small number of people/objects. Hence, it is a plural indefinite pronoun.

Nobody was answering when I called them last. – Here, we see a pronoun nobody being used to show no one at all. It is a singular indefinite pronoun.

Reflexive and Intensive Pronouns

Reflexive Pronouns are those which are used to indicate a noun which has been used in an earlier part of the same sentence. These pronouns are - Myself, Themselves, Yourself, Ourselves, Herself, Himself and Itself.

Rosa was going to take it to the shop but ended up fixing it herself one afternoon. – Here, we can see that herself is being used to refer to ‘Rosa’ again at the end of the sentence.

He prefers to be by himself after a game. – Here, himself is used to refer to ‘him’.

Apart from ordering in, they cooked a few snack themselves. – Here themselves is used to show that ‘they’ cooked something.

The horse hurt itself while trying to escape. - Since itself is a gender neutral pronoun, it is used to show the nouns that have no definite gender. E.g. : material things or ideas, etc.; or whose gender is unknown. E : animals.

These same words are also called Intensive Pronouns, which are used to lay emphasis on the pronoun that comes before them in the sentence.

They themselves knew that the prank was in bad taste. - Here, the pronoun themselves is used to emphasise ‘they’.

Avoid reporting things that you yourself haven’t witnessed. - Here yourself is used to emphasise the pronoun ‘you’.

Reciprocal Pronoun

There are just two Reciprocal Pronouns - Each other and One another. They are used when two or more nouns are doing or being the same to one another. Both of these pronouns are plural in nature as they can only be used in situations where there is more than one noun.

Jamie and Jack always sit beside each other in break. – Here, the reciprocation is between the children as they both sit together.

They haven’t seen one another since last year. – Here, neither of the two parties has seen each other in some time.

The trees seem to reach towards each other in a strong wind. – Here, we have an unspecified amount of trees bending towards the others in a strong wind.

Pronouns Exercise 1

Pronouns Exercise 2

Pronouns Exercise 3