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Brett Johnson Grammar

Pronouns

Pronouns

Pronouns replace common or proper nouns in clauses or sentences where repetition is to be avoided (known as antecedents), or something is obvious in context.

Types of pronouns

Generally speaking, pronouns can be classified as follows:

Type Examples Example sentences
Subject pronouns I, you, he, she, it, we, they I like pizza.
They are a lovely couple.
Object pronouns Me, you, him, her, it, us, them The man hit me.
Susan never really liked him.
Possessive pronouns My/mine, you/yours, his, her/hers, our/ours, their/theirs John is my youngest brother.
Pete and Jenna lent us their caravan.
Reflexive pronouns Myself, yourself/yourselves, himself, herself, ourselves, themselves Steve fixed the car himself.
When we were young, we often looked after ourselves.
Demonstrative pronouns This, these, that, those This torch is better than that one.
Abstract pronouns It, there It is a nice day today.
There are millions of people living in Tokyo.
Relative pronouns Which, who, whom, where, whose, when, that She’s the lady who lives next door.
That‘s the man whose dog bit me.
Interrogative (question) What, when, why, where, who, whatever What happened?
Who met you yesterday?
Reciprocal Each other, one another Joanna and Sam like each other.
Yes, I think they love one another.
Indefinite All, another, any, anybody, anyone, anything, both, each, either, enough, everybody, everyone, everything, few, little, more, most, much, neither, nobody, no one, none, nothing, one, other, others, no one, nothing, some, somebody, someone, something, such There was nobody there.
That is not something I would enjoy doing.
Can I have another one?

Common problems

Pronouns should be used logically and always with the question ‘is it obvious to the listener/reader?’

Who and whom are commonly misused. Simply, who is a subject pronoun and whom is an object pronoun, but confusion reigns because the latter replaces the former if it is preceding the verb. Example:

To whom did you speak?

As it is you (the subject) that spoke, whom is correctly used here as an object pronoun, and it is before the verb.

Another issue is the format of the verb after many indefinite pronouns. Example:

Nobody are her.

Although nobody suggests plural, body is singular and should always be used with the third person singular. Therefore, nobody is waiting.

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