Pronoun – Definition

To have a better understanding of what is a pronoun, you’ll want to first take understand nouns. However, if you’re already familiar with the concepts of nouns, then this is the next best thing for you to learn.

By definition, pronouns are words or phrases that substitute for a noun or noun phrase. Pronouns are short words that can do everything a noun can do.
A pronoun can act as a subject, direct object, indirect object, object of the preposition, and more and takes the place of any person, place, animal or thing.

Subject PronounObject PronounPossessive Adjective (Determiner)Possessive PronounReflexive or Intensive Pronoun
1st person singularImemyminemyself
2nd person singularyouyouyouryoursyourself
3rd person singular, malehehimhishishimself
3rd person singular, femalesheherherhersherself
3rd person singular, neutralitititsN/Aitself
1st person pluralweusouroursourselves
2nd person pluralyouyouyouryoursyourselves
3rd person pluraltheythemtheirtheirsthemselves

Subject Pronouns

Subject pronouns are exactly what it sounds like, it’s a pronoun which takes the place of a noun in a subject of a sentence.

  • I am going to eat dinner.
  • She is playing basketball with her friends.
  • You are in big trouble!
  • They always in the game.
  • This computer is broken. It doesn’t work very well.

Object Pronouns

Object pronouns are used to replace nouns that are the direct or indirect object of a clause.

  • Dan threw the ball at her.
  • Mrs. Bernice yelled at me.
  • The red team beat us last year.
  • Tell them to stop yelling!

Possessive Adjective (Determiners)

Possessive adjectives are not actually pronouns, they’re determiners that are similar to a possessive nouns.

  • He broke his nose last year.
  • She gave me her final message.
  • My teacher told me to bring my books to school.
  • The crazy man threw a rock at our house.

Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns are those designating possession. They may also be used as substitutes for noun phrases, and they are typically found at the end of a sentence or clause.

  • This dog is mine, not yours.
  • I lost my phone, so Mark let me use his.
  • My brother’s computer is much better than mine.

Reflexive Pronouns

A reflexive pronoun is a type of pronoun that is preceded by the adverb, adjective, pronoun, or noun to which it refers, so long as that antecedent is located within the same clause.

  • I was having a difficult time, so I encouraged myself.
  • My sister brushes her teeth and stares at herself for hours.
  • Danny couldn’t wait for everyone else, so did everything himself.
  • Please make yourselves at home.

Intensive Pronouns

Intensive and Reflexive Pronouns are almost identical. You can tell the difference between them easily: Intensive pronouns aren’t essential to a sentence’s basic meaning. You can remove them and the sentence will still make sense.

  • We built this house ourselves.
  • Katie made herself a giant cake.
  • My friend is afraid of walking herself back to the car.
  • The children are playing by themselves.

Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns are those referring to one or more unspecified objects, beings, or places. They are called “indefinite” simply because they do not indicate the exact object, being, or place to which they refer.

PersonPlaceThing
Alleveryone/everbody
everywhereeverything
Part (positive)someone/somebodysomewheresomething
Part (negative)anyone/anybodyanywhereanything
Noneno one/nobodynowherenothing

Indefinite Pronouns are never plural, always singular. This means the pronouns or verbs used to refer to them should also be singular.

Affirmative Sentences

In affirmative sentences, Some, Every, No, and Anycan be used.

  1. Some are used to describe indefinite quantities
  2. Every are used to describe a complete quantity
  3. No are used to describe absence
  4. Any are used to describe a meaning close to Every

Here are some examples of affirmative sentences with each type used.

  • Someone is outside looking at us.
  • Everyone left the building already.
  • Nobody can save you now.
  • Anyone can do this job if they tried hard enough.

Negative Sentences

Negative sentences can only be describe by indefinite pronouns that include Any.

  • I don’t have anything to do.
  • There isn’t anybody here that can help you.
  • I can’t go anywhere with this shirt on.

Negative sentences matched with an indefinite pronounce with any can create an affirmative sentence but with a negative connotation. They’re used to display emotions or aggression.

  • Don’t you have anything to do?
  • We didn’t have anywhere to go because of you.
  • Didn’t anyone tell you not to pick your nose?

Negative Questions

Negative questions can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. Indefinite pronouns with some, every, no, and any can be applied to the question. They convey different meanings depending on how they’re asked.

  • Is there anything I can do?
  • Did you go somewhere last weekend?
  • Did he get everything we asked?

To make a rhetorical question, add a negative, this assumes the person you’re asking will most likely say “no”.

  • Isn’t there anything I can do?
  • Didn’t you go somewhere last weekend?
  • Didn’t he get everything we asked?

Some along with the pronoun forms assumes that the person asking the question may already know what the answer will be. The question seeks to validate the assumption.

  • Are you looking for someone?
  • Would you like to go somewhere this weekend?
  • Have you eaten something?

By adding a negative to the sentence, you can make the sentence more definite. Strongly assuming a particular answer.

  • Aren’t you looking for someone?
  • Wouldn’t you like to go somewhere this weekend?
  • Haven’t you eaten something?

Interrogative Pronouns

Interrogative pronouns are nouns used to make asking a question easy. There are five interrogative pronouns, each with their own distinct characteristic. They ask a specific question.

  • What – Used to ask about people or objects
  • Which – Used to ask about people or objects from a select group
  • Who – Used to ask questions about people
  • Whom – An uncommon pronoun used to ask about people
  • Whose – Used to ask about people or objects, related to possession

Interrogative pronouns can also be matched with the suffix -ever, or even the rarely used –soever suffix. They latter is used more in traditional English.

  • Whatever
  • Whatsoever
  • Whichever
  • Whoever
  • Whosoever
  • Whomever
  • Whomsoever
  • Whosever

Reciprocal Pronoun

A reciprocal pronoun is a type of pronoun to signify two or more subjects (normally people) that carry out an action that has both parties receiving the benefits or consequence simultaneously. There are two reciprocal pronouns:

  • Each other – mostly used to refer to two people
  • One another – used to refer to more than two people

Here examples of how reciprocal pronouns are used:

  • The two lovers kissed each other.
  • If we all tried loving one another, there wouldn’t be any wars.

Relative Pronouns

Relative pronouns are used to refer or define the nouns mentioned previously. They can also be used to conjunct two sentences together.

  • The man who ate all the candy is looking for more.
  • The bed, which my brother slept in, was set on fire.
  • The mall, where we used to play at, closed down last week.
  • Where did you the scarf that I gave you?

Demonstrative Pronouns

A demonstrative pronoun is a pronoun used to indicate something specific within a sentence. These pronouns can be used to identify objects in time or space.

  • This (singular) – Used to indicate something near in time or distance
  • These (plural) – Used to indicate something near in time or distance
  • That (singular) – Used to indicate something far in time or distance
  • Those (plural) – Used to indicate something far in time or distance

Here are some examples of how to use demonstrative pronouns when regarding space.

  • This is an apple
  • These pencils were given to us
  • That is a remote controller
  • Those eggs are about to break

Here are some examples of how to use demonstrative pronouns when regarding time.

  • This isn’t the time for an argument.
  • These days, I’ve been learning how to knit.
  • Remember that time when you broke my glasses?
  • My grandfather has been keeping secrets all those years.

Bottom Line

Now that you’ve learned all about what is a pronoun, you’ll want to check out the other 8 parts of speech. Familiarize yourself with what are adjectives, nouns, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.

You can also master English by knowing how to use determiners properly. It’s always a good idea to review your English grammar by checking out ESL Workshop.

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