A pronoun is a word that replaces a noun. It’s what you use in a sentence when you want to avoid repetition and make it easier for your readers to understand what you’re trying to say.
There are over 100 pronouns. The most common ones are it, I, you, he, they, we, and she.
A pronoun is an important part of speech. If you use it well, your writing will be richer and more concise.
Pronouns still confuse many people, especially those who don’t understand the different types and the correct grammar rules. So, in this easy-to-understand guide, we’ll discuss what pronouns are and how they work.
Pronouns substitute nouns to make sentences concise and easy to read. There are nine different types of pronouns that we’ll discuss in this guide.
Sentences without pronouns are awkward and repetitive. Here’s an example:
Boring, right? Let pronouns come to the rescue. Here’s the concise and more interesting version of the same paragraph with the pronouns in bold:
Lo and behold! See what those little superhero pronouns have done. They’ve made the paragraph so juicy and snackable. With a swift karate kick, pronouns have knocked down the characters in the paragraph from 128 to 104. In addition, the pronouns have punched boredom in the face by removing the weird repetition of the words John and John’s car.
Yes, pronouns make paragraphs short and sweet. You can call them noun substitutes or dummy subjects. They replace what would otherwise be the subject, object, or indirect object of what we are talking about—just as we’ve replaced John with he.
Now, let’s check out the different types of pronouns.
Demonstrative pronouns denote space and time. They replace nouns that have already been mentioned and identify something specific. Here’s the list of demonstrative pronouns:
Let’s check out some sentences with demonstrative pronouns:
You use personal pronouns when you are talking about people or things. Personal pronouns refer to the person speaking, what they want, what they do, what is going on around them, and what’s being addressed.
The personal pronoun “I” refers to the speaker, while the word “you” can be used as both a subject pronoun (referring to someone else) and an object pronoun. The personal pronoun “you” is both singular and plural.
Let’s analyze this sentence:
You use the first-person singular here since you’re referring specifically to yourself. Next, check this out:
This uses the second-person pronoun, because it’s referring to someone else.
The word “my” denotes what belongs to the speaker or what they are talking about, for example:
Here’s a list of personal pronouns:
Possessive pronouns include mine, yours, and his. They show what belongs to or relates to a particular person. The thing with pronouns is they can belong to several categories. Possessive pronouns include some personal pronouns.
Here are some examples:
Here’s a list of possessive pronouns:
Indefinite pronouns are not specific to what the pronoun is referring to. They don’t have an antecedent. Don’t worry; we’ll talk more about antecedents shortly.
Indefinite pronouns ending with -body represent people. And those ending with -thing denote things.
In negative clauses, use pronouns with no- and not any-.
Don’t use another negative when using clauses with no-.
Here’s a list of indefinite pronouns:
|The other||Several||No one||Little||Everybody||Anything|
Here are more examples of indefinite pronouns in a sentence:
Relative pronouns emphasize what is being talked about in a sentence. They include words like who, which, and that. These introduce relative clauses—clauses that tell us more about things and people.
Let’s check out a few relative pronouns.
Here’s a list of relative pronouns:
A few examples of sentences with relative pronouns include:
In informal writing, you can leave out the relative pronoun when you’re using it as the verb’s object.
These are words that refer to the subject of a sentence. Reflexive pronouns end with -self. Plural forms end with -selves. They’re used when the subject does something to or by itself.
Here’s a list of reflexive pronouns:
Let’s check out some sentences with reflexive pronouns:
These are similar to reflexive pronouns, but their primary function is to put more focus on a noun or another pronoun.
Use an intensive pronoun when you want to emphasize what the subject or object does, like in these examples
How do you tell the difference between a reflexive and intensive pronoun? Simple. A sentence can do fine grammatically without an intensive pronoun. But it won't make any sense without a reflexive pronoun.
Let’s take away the pronouns from the two examples above:
We can’t do the same with the examples on reflexive pronouns. Taking these away is incorrect:
So, if a sentence can be fine without the emphasizing -self word, then you’re using an intensive pronoun. If not, you’re using a reflexive pronoun.
Here’s a list of intensive pronouns:
Interrogative pronouns help you to ask questions. These include words like who, what, and where. It’s easy to identify them since they all have that inquiry aspect.
There are five main interrogative pronouns. Here’s the list:
Sometimes, more interrogative pronouns are created by adding the suffix -ever or -soever to the words above, e.g. whomever and whatsoever.
Let’s put interrogative pronouns in sentences:
Reciprocal pronouns refer to people or things that are involved in reciprocal action. For example, “I like you” and “You like me too” both imply each person likes the other.
Reciprocal pronouns include:
Yes, there are just two reciprocal pronouns that you can use in sentences like:
Pronouns can be confusing if you use them on their own. So, you use antecedents to make writing clearer. Antecedents are what pronouns replace. They may be a noun, pronoun, or phrase that precedes the pronoun.
You need to give a bit more context before someone can understand what you want the pronoun to replace—like what gender it is, for example. So, if you say “she” without having said anything else beforehand, people won’t know who exactly you’re talking about.
To avoid this problem, always precede pronouns with what they replace.
For example, Jane drinks too much. She may get into trouble if she keeps doing this. Here, “Jane” is the antecedent. So, if we use pronouns like “she” and “her” after that, it will be clear to readers that we’re all talking about dearest Jane who needs to cut back on drinking.
You now have a clearer picture of pronouns and their usage. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
A pronoun substitutes a noun or noun phrase to avoid repetition. It has an antecedent—what you’re substituting the word with. For example: John entered the coffee shop. He ordered his usual latte.
There are over 100 pronouns, and they all have slightly different uses. They include he, she, I, its, who, whom, which, somebody, something, myself, etc.
The main reason is to avoid wordiness. When you use a pronoun, it helps readers follow your text without unnecessary repetitions.
Pronouns have been around for a long time. The earliest records come from the 1520s. Pronoun is derived from the Latin word prōnōmen, made from “pro” (substitution) and “nomen” (name).
Pronouns can be an absolute nightmare. They can confuse even some of the brightest minds. Not you, though. This article has broken it all down for you.
Use pronouns to increase your readability and conciseness. Proficient use of pronouns will make you a professional communicator. Yes, I deliberately used pro- thrice in the previous sentence to make the point stick. Here at ProWritingAid, we want you to be a pro.
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