English Grammar 101: Pronouns

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Pronouns are used to replace nouns within sentences, making them less repetitive and mechanic. For example, saying “Mary didn’t go to school because Mary was sick” doesn’t sound very good. Instead, if you say “Mary didn’t go to school because she was sick” it will make the sentence flow better.

There are several types of pronouns, below you will find the most common ones:

1. Subjective personal pronouns. As the name implies, subjective pronouns act as subjects within sentences. They are: I, you, he, she, we, they, and it.

Example: I am going to the bank while he is going to the market.

2. Objective personal pronouns. These pronouns act as the object of verbs within sentences. They are: me, you, him, her, us, them and it.

Example: The ball was going to hit me in the face.

3. Possessive personal pronouns. These pronouns are used to indicate possession, and they are placed after the object in question (as opposed to possessive adjectives like my and your, which are placed before the object). They are: mine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs and its.

Example of possessive adjective: This is my car.
Example of possessive pronoun: This car is mine.

4. Reflexive pronouns. This special class of pronouns is used when the object is the same as the subject on the sentence. They are myself, yourself, himself, herself, ourselves, themselves and itself.

Example: I managed to cut myself in the kitchen.

5. Interrogative pronouns. As you probably guessed these pronouns are used to ask questions. They are what, which, who, whom and whose.

Example: What are the odds?

6. Demonstrative pronouns. These pronouns are used to indicate a noun and distinguish it from other entities. Notice that demonstrative pronouns replace the noun (while demonstrative determiners modify them). They are: this, that, these, those.

Example of a demonstrative determiner: This house is ugly.
Example of a demonstrative pronoun: This is the right one.

7. Indefinite pronouns. As the name implies, indefinite pronouns do not refer to a specific thing, place or person. There are many of them, including anyone, anywhere, everyone, none, someone and so on.

Example: Everyone is going to the party.

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9 thoughts on “English Grammar 101: Pronouns”

  1. Daniel and Daily Writing Tips Team, this is my first comment here and I want to thank you for this interesting and helpful blog.

    Regarding pronouns, I have a feeling that your list of possessive pronouns is not completely correct – its is not used as a possessive pronoun, it is used only as a possessive determiner. Also her should read hers instead. I think the correct list would be: mine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs.

    Also I believe it is more correct to call my in This is my car a determiner rather than an adjective, because you can replace my with a determiner but not with an adjective:

    This is my car -> This is a car (Correct)
    This is my car -> This is red car (Incorrect)

    There is another group of pronouns you didn’t mentioned – reciprocal pronouns. They are each other and one another.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong. English is not my first language.

  2. Paul, her should indeed be hers, it was a typo, thanks for spotting it.

    As for its, it sure can be used as a possessive pronoun. Most grammar books in fact will list these seven possessive pronouns.

    Possessive determiner is the grammatical term indeed, but I believe possessive adjective is used widely as well.

    Finally, yeah there are several other typos of pronouns that are not listed, like intensive pronouns, distributive pronouns, and so on. That is why I wrote “below you will find the most common ones.”

    Thanks for the rich comment, we certainly appreciate it!

  3. Thank you for clarifying, Daniel!

    My opinion was based mostly on the grammar book I use for reference, but after googling a bit I indeed found that possessive adjective is widely used, and its is often listed as a possessive pronoun.

  4. Hello Daniel,
    Do you know exactly what’s the use (or reason of being) for phrases like:
    “an uncle of Kim’s”
    “friends of mine”

    I am teaching english to low level students and when I cam across these 2 phrases I wasn’t able to explain exactly why (in which cases) they are used.

    Thanks for the help!

  5. In this question “Chairs _______ don’t have cushions are uncomfortable to sit on.” Why “which” is an incorrect option? Please explain it to me.

    The answer you offered is : that

  6. Hi, Vanessa

    I think if you say “I’m going out with my friend” it sounds as if
    a) you only have one friend, or
    b) we know which friend you are referring to.
    However, if you say “I’m going with a friend of mine”, that means “with one of my friends”, an undetermined one out of the many friends you have.
    The same goes for “an uncle of Kim’s” (i.e., Kim has several uncles) versus “Kim’s uncle” (his only uncle, or the one we have recently mentioned).

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