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Pronoun: Definition and Types with Examples

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It sounds unnatural and boring when we want to speak about a name and repeat that name several times. Instead of using the same name repeatedly, we can replace it with a suitable word called pronoun. For instance, read the following sentence.
David said that David wanted to read David's book that David bought last Friday.

This sentence is boring and unnatural because the name David is repeated several times. We rewrite this sentence by substituting a suitable pronoun instead of the noun David below.

David said that he wanted to read his book that he bought last Friday. 

Pronoun Definition

A word standing in place of a name (single person or thing) or a group of persons or things is called a pronoun. It refers to a place, person, or thing that is already mentioned.

Types of Pronoun 

There are many different types of pronouns that we use in our writing and everyday speech. Every kind of pronoun has a specific function that does in a sentence. Some pronouns belong to more than one type and can do different functions depending on the context.

Pronouns are classified as Personal, Interrogative, Relative, Indefinite, Demonstrative, Distributive, and Reflexive Pronouns

Personal Pronouns Definition & Examples

A pronoun that represents a grammatical person in a sentence is called a personal pronoun.  I (Singular) We (Plural) You (Singular and Plural) They (Plural) He (Singular) She (Singular) and It (Singular) are personal pronouns.

Personal pronouns represent three grammatical persons.

First-person: Represent the person talking (I & We)
Second person: A person that you are speaking to or writing to (You)
Third-person: The person or thing was spoken about (He, She, and It)

Forms of Personal Pronouns (Person, Gender, Number, and Cases) 

Personal pronouns vary in form according to person, gender, and number and according to the case as well. The three cases of the pronouns are the subjective (also called the nominative), the objective, and the possessive.

Let's take an example of how we use different pronoun cases to refer to the same person. Let's say I'm referring to a person who is the owner of a bike. I can say

He owns that bike.

Or That bike belongs to Him.

 Or That bike is his.

In all three sentences, I used the third-person singular pronouns "he,” "him," and "his." In each sentence, I'm referring to himself (the person who owns the bike), but the form of the pronoun he uses to do it changes. For instance

In sentence 1, He owns that bike; he is the subject of the sentence and identified by the pronoun "He." Thus "He" is the subjective case. 

In sentence 2, That bike belongs to him, the subject is "that bike," and he is, the owner, is now the object of the preposition "to," and he is identified by the pronoun "him.” "Him" is the objective case

And in sentence 3, that bike is his; he is, the owner has an adjectival role indicated by the pronoun "his.” "His" is the possessive case.

First Person
Case Singular Plural
Head1Subjective Head1I Head2we
Head1Objective Head2me Head2us
Head1Possessive Head2my, mine Head2our, ours
Head1Possessive Head2your, yours Head2


Second Person
Case Singular Plural
Head1Subjective Head1you Head2you
Head1Objective Head2you Head2us
Head1Possessive Head2your, yours Head2


Third Person
Case Masculine (Singular) Feminine Neuter All Gender
Head1Subjective Head1He Head1She Head1It Head2They
Head1Objective Head1him Head1her Head2it Head2them
Head1Possessive Head1his Head1her, hers Head2Its Head2their, theirs

Personal Pronouns Examples Sentences 


In each example of personal pronoun below, the pronouns in the subjective, objective, and possessive case are bold, underlined, and italicized, respectively.

  • The professor left his collection of books to Ahmad and me.
  • She was on her way home with Jack and me when she heard the news.
  • Her son is the same age as mine.
  • Ahmad has a new bike. He bought it yesterday.
  • They asked us a difficult question.
  • That beautiful car is his.
  • This pen is yours.
  • A tree drops its leaves in autumn.
  • The students are with their teacher.

What is the Difference Between?
my-mine
your-yours
our-ours
her-hers
their-theirs
A word used with a noun to show ownership is called a possessive adjective. The words my, your, our, her, and 'their' are possessive adjectives from these pairs. The other work as a possessive pronoun.

Examples

Possessive Adjective: This is my pen.
Possessive Pronouns: This pen is mine.
Possessive Adjective: Those are your books.
Possessive Pronouns: Those books are yours.
Possessive Adjective: This is our hose.
Possessive Pronouns: This house is ours.

It is important to note that the first and second-person pronouns don't have different forms to differentiate gender. That is, the person speaking and spoken to may be either male or female.

The third-person pronouns have three genders.
Masculine: he, him, his, himself
Feminine: she, her, hers, herself
Neuter: it, its, its own, itself

What are Relative Pronouns 

A pronoun used to join a relative and main clause in a sentence is called a relative pronoun. 

It refers back to a word going before called it's antecedent. Who, which, whom, that, and 'whose' are most commonly used relative pronouns. 

Examples of Relative Pronouns

  • The man who I met was my friend.
  • The boy who robbed me has been arrested.
  • I sold the watch which you bought for me last month.
  • He was not the one whom you wanted to work with.
  • Everyone who/that watched the film will never forget it.
The following indefinite relative pronouns are less commonly used.
Whoever
whomever
whosoever
whichever
whatever
wherever
whatsoever

The Use of Relative Pronouns 

Relative can be used as a subject, object or can be used to show possession. 

The Function of Relative Pronouns
Used For Subjective Objective Possessive
Head1Persons Head1what, that Head1who, whom, that Head1whose
Head1Things and Animals Head1that Head1that Head2whose
Head1Things Head1which Head1which Head2Its

The relative pronoun who and that is used as a subject of the relative clause.

Examples

  • The man who is the manager of this company is my cousin.
  • The teacher who(that) interviewed me recommends me for the job.
  • I need a motorcycle which can run fast.
The pronouns who, whom, that, and which act as the object of relative clauses. 'Whose' is the only possible possessive form.

Examples
  • The teacher whom (that, who) I called told me I would not present tomorrow.
  • I think he forgot the book that you lent him yesterday.
  • This is the village to which my friend belongs.
  • I tried to help the old lady whose leg was broken.
  • The students whose fees have been raised can appeal.

Interrogative Pronouns 

Pronouns that ask a question are called interrogative pronouns. Interrogative and relative pronouns are similar in form, but the work they do is different. 

Study the following example sentences.
  • Who killed him?
  • Who are those people?
  • Whose is this purse?
  • Whom did you invite yesterday?
  • Whom are you walking with?
The words written in bolds are the interrogative pronouns.
These pronouns are also used for asking an indirect question.

Examples
  • She asked who was there.
  • Ask which food you like most.

Cases of Interrogative Pronouns

Only the following interrogative pronouns are used for different persons and cases. The pronoun 'who' is used as a subject for a person only. Who/whom is used in the objective case. 'Whose' is used as a possessive interrogative pronoun.
The pronoun 'which' is used to ask a question about persons and things. 'What' is used to ask for information about things only.

Indefinite Pronouns

Pronouns that do not specify a particular person or thing are called indefinite pronouns. If there is any doubt or vagueness about any noun, we substitute indefinite pronouns instead of them. 

Indefinite Pronouns Examples 

  • Somebody always steals my shoes. (The pronoun somebody refers to an unnamed person. We don't know about its gender.)
  • Everyone was present there.
  • Many of my friends disagreed with my idea.
  • None of my children has a disability.
  • Would someone like to go with us?
  • Nobody came to my help.
  • Everybody is leaving tonight.
  • All the eggs were rotten.
  • One must do one's duty.
  • No one knows the correct answer.
The words in the above sentences refer to people and things in general; therefore, we called them indefinite pronouns.
Some of the indefinite pronouns are used for persons only and others for things only. Sometimes the same pronoun can be used for either person or thing. The following table has been prepared to summarize its different uses and different forms, singular or plural.


Singular Plural
Head1People Only Head1anybody, no one, somebody, someone, anyone, anybody, everybody, everyone Head1
Head1Things Only Head1anything, everything, nothing, something, less little, this, much, such Head1
Head1People or Things Head1another, each, either, other Head1both, few, others, many, fewer, several

Demonstrative Pronouns 

Pronouns used to refer to a nearer or far away object are called demonstrative pronouns. We use demonstrative pronouns to point out specific persons, places, or things without naming them.
Demonstrative pronouns are this, that, these, those.  

Demonstrative Pronouns Examples 

  • This is my umbrella.
  • These are your shoes.
  • That is his house.
  • Those are good boys.
The words written in bold are demonstrative pronouns. The pronoun "this" is singular, and "these" is plural. Both this and these are used for near objects.

Similarly, 'that' is used for singular, and 'those' is used for plural objects in the second pair. Both of them are used to point out the object that is far away from the person who is speaking about that object.

These words also work as demonstrative adjectives when used with a noun.

Examples

  • This bike is his.
  • These books are mine.
  • Those shoes are yours.
  • These buildings were built two hundred ago.
These pronouns can also refer to an abstract thing, event, etc.

Examples

I really like this.
In this sentence, the pronoun "this" may refer to an idea, event, or something that has physical existence.

Demonstrative pronouns do not change form in the subject and object place. For example

I want this.
He purchases that.

Both this and that are used in the object position.

Note: Some peoples also include the following words in the class of demonstrative pronouns.

None, all, neither, either, some, any. But these are less commonly used.

Distributive Pronouns 

Pronouns refer to a person or a thing considered singly is called distributive pronoun. Examples of distributive pronouns are some, either, neither, each, enough, both, all, etc. These pronouns are always used with singular verbs because they stand for a person or thing one at a time.

Examples

  • Each person is mortal.
  • Either of the two candidates would be recommended for the job.
  • Neither of them remembered their instructions.
Either and neither are used to speak about two persons or things. Each refers to one of a group of people or things.

These words are called Distributive adjectives when used with a noun.

Examples

  • You can take either seat.
  • Neither Saleem nor his mother is coming.

Reflexive Pronouns Definition & Examples 

The pronouns formed from the personal pronouns by adding the word self to (my, your, him, her, it) and its plural selves to (our, your, them) are called reflexive or compound personal pronouns.

Singular: myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself,
Plural: yourselves, ourselves, themselves.
Oneself is called an indefinite reflexive pronoun.
Reflexive pronouns refer to a person who does the action as well as the receiver of the same action.

Reflexive Pronouns Examples

  • He washed the clothes himself. (He washed it, not anyone else. Here the reflexive pronoun himself used to emphasize the pronoun "He")
  • I had a great holiday. I really enjoyed myself.
  • It is not always easy to divert oneself on holiday.
  • One has to learn to control oneself.
  • She is teaching herself English.
  • He can do that himself.
  • This refrigerator defrosts itself.
  • Ahmad and Saleem blamed themselves for the accident.
After the words concentrate, feel, relax and meet, we do not use reflexive pronouns. 

Examples
  • She must try and concentrate. (do not use herself after concentrate)
  • When will we meet again? (do not use us or ourselves after the word meet)
Comparison -selves, each other and one another
Example
  • Ali and Nadeem stood in the front of the mirror and looked at themselves.
In this example, the pronoun themselves means Ali, and Nadeem looked at Ali and Nadeem.

If we say Ali looked at Nadeem; Nadeem looked at Ali, then we can say they looked at each other. One other can also be used instead of each other.

Emphatic Pronouns


A pronoun that emphasizes its antecedent (noun or pronoun previously mentioned) is called an emphatic or intensive pronoun.

Emphatic Pronouns Examples

The prime minister himself visited the church yesterday.
I did it myself. (It was done by me and not by anybody else)
I did it by myself. (I did it without any help).
The load itself is not too heavy.
He himself visited their place.
The manager himself gave him the medal. 
She herself opened the gate.  

Useful List of Pronouns

I
We
You
They
He
She
It
Me
Us
Her
Him
Them
That
Who
Which
Whom
Whose
Whichever
Whomever
Whoever
This
That
These
Those
Somebody
Anybody
Anything
Everything
Anyone
Everyone
Each
Nobody
Everybody
Either
Neither
Nothing
No one
One
Many
Someone
Few
Something
Any
Both
Several
All
Some
Most
None
Myself
Yourself
Yourselves
Ourselves
Herself
Themselves
Himself
Who
Itself
What
Which
Whom
Whose 



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