7 Other Types of Pronouns
Think of a pronoun. Chances are, you will come up with a personal pronoun, such as he, she, it, them, they, us, and the like. But note that I modified pronoun with the adjective personal, which implies that there are other types of pronouns. As a matter of fact, eight classes of pronouns exist. Here’s an outline:
1. Demonstrative Pronouns
This class of pronouns direct the reader’s attention to an implied noun:
“I’m not going to eat this.”
“That was quite an experience!”
“What are these?”
“I’ve never seen those before.”
“Such is my understanding of the situation.”
These sentences closely resemble the type in which the same words appear as adjectives — for example, “I’m not going to eat this food” — but in such case, they have a different identity: When they modify nouns, these words are called determiners.
2. Indefinite Pronouns
Not to be confused with indefinite relative pronouns, described below, these are pronouns that act as nouns:
“All were present at the meeting.”
“Each was guilty in his or her own way.”
“One has to keep up appearances.”
“Good fortune comes to some.”
“None of them showed up.”
“Is anybody interested?”
“Somebody is going to pay for this.”
“Have you sent invitations to everybody?”
There are many more indefinite pronouns than these: any, fewer, several, most, and other related words; these also function as determiners (adjectives):
“I recognized several people at the party.”
3. Intensive Pronouns
Intensive pronouns are simply personal pronouns with -self or -selves attached, such as in the following sentences:
“I myself don’t have an opinion.”
“She would have said so herself, but he beat her to it.”
Intensive pronouns, like the otherwise identical-looking reflexive pronouns (below), are not essential to the sentence; omit the highlighted word in each of these examples, and the sentences still make sense without the intensive pronoun.
4. Interrogative Pronouns
These pronouns introduce interrogative sentences:
“Who are you?”
“What is the meaning of life?”
“Which way should I go?”
Like some other types of pronouns, these can serve as determiners (sometimes called, in this role, interrogative adjectives).
Sentences in which interrogative pronouns appear don’t always end with question marks:
“I know who you are.”
“She told you what the meaning of life is.”
“They know which way to go.”
5. Reciprocal Pronouns
These pronouns combine ideas, hence the name:
“Have you met each other before?”
“We shared our thoughts with one another.”
The distinction in use is whether you refer to two people (“each other”) or to more than two (“one another”).
6. Reflexive Pronouns
These pronouns have the same form as intensive pronouns but differ in that they refer reflexively to the antecedent (a corresponding noun the pronoun refers to):
“I bought myself a new car.” (Myself is reflexive of I.)
“Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately? (Yourself is reflexive of you.)
They are also essential to the sentence; if you omitted the highlighted word in each of these examples, the sentences would be incomplete.
The erroneous use of reflexive pronouns in sentences such as “Jane and myself were there when it happened” (instead of “Jane and I were there when it happened”) is called an untriggered reflexive, because there was no antecedent to trigger the pronoun. (“Jane and I” itself is the subject. This subject is the antecedent of we in “Jane and I were there when it happened, but we didn’t see anything,” but there’s no need for a reflexive pronoun in that sentence.)
7. Relative Pronouns
These are the type of pronouns that, as the name implies, relate words to other pronouns or to nouns:
“Who were you talking to?”
“I’ll find out which one is correct.”
“The vase that was on the table is missing.”
A subgroup of relative pronouns, the indefinite relative pronouns, lack an antecedent:
“What were you saying?”
“Whoever said that is asking for trouble.”
“I’ll do whatever I please.”
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