Pronouns are simple words which substitute for, stand for or take the place of nouns: ( pro means for, on
Pronouns have: number-singular or plural (I, we) and gender-masculine, feminine or neuter (he, she, it)
Without pronouns we would have to write something like:
When Tracy tore Tracy's jeans, Tracy had to buy some new ones.
With pronouns it becomes:
When Tracy tore her jeans, she had to buy some new ones.
PERSONAL PRONOUNS are I, you (singular), he, she, it, we, you (plural), they
We can see all the personal (subject) pronouns laid out logically when a verb is conjugated (ie the ending of the verb is changed to agree with the subject and tense).
Form of Verb
|First person singular|| I||think
|Second person singular||You||think
|Third person singular||He, She, It||thinks
|First person plural||We||think
|Second person plural||You||think
|Third person plural||They||think
Pronouns are therefore listed in the order, first person (person speaking) singular, second person (person spoken to) singular , third person (person spoken about)
singular (which can have three forms), first person (persons speaking) plural, second person (persons spoken to) plural and third person (persons spoken about) plural, as above.
NB: There is no such word as yous. You is both singular and plural, though you wouldn't think it if you went almost anywhere in Australia. Sometimes it even mutates into
OBJECT PRONOUNS are me, you, him, her, it, us, you, them. They are the pronouns used when someone or some thing is the object or recipient of an action.
e.g. Roger hit me. Mary pushed him. He likes her. The dog bit them. She loves you. They are watching us.
|First person singular||me
|Second person singular||you
|Third person singular||him, her, it
|First person plural||us
|Second person plural||you
|Third person plural||them
POSSESSIVE PRONOUNS are my, your, his, her, our, your, their or mine, yours , his, hers, its, ours, yours, theirs
They are the pronouns used when someone or some thing possesses or owns an object. Sometimes the first group
are called possessive adjectives but no texts seem to be definite about it.
e.g. It is my book, your essay, her dog. The book is mine. The essay is yours. The dog is hers.
|First person singular||my, mine
|Second person singular||your, yours
|Third person singular||his, her, hers, its
|First person plural||our, ours
|Second person plural||your, yours
|Third person plural||their, theirs
The most common errors with pronouns occur with possessive pronouns.
These are already in a possessive form and do not require any additional apostrophe. The chief offender is its
e.g. The dog was scratching its fleas.
Its is already possessive in form. It's ALWAYS stands for
it is. People also try to add apostrophes to hers, theirs, ours, yours but they are not needed because
the words already show ownership and end in s.
REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS are myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves.
They are those pronouns which concern action done to oneself.
These are beloved by sporting personalities who seem to
think it is immodest to refer to themselves using I and me and instead use myself.
e.g.The captain picked Sally and myself.
It should be, The captain picked Sally and me.
|First person singular||myself
|Second person singular||yourself
|Third person singular||himself, herself, itself
|First person plural||ourselves
|Second person plural||yourselves
|Third person plural||themselves
In English, we should not really say, I, myself, think..... but many people do. It is accepted usage
in French but less so in English. The place to use it is in something like,
e.g.I blame myself. He hit himself with the hammer.
RELATIVE PRONOUNS are: who, whom, whose, which, that.
They are placed immediately after the noun or pronoun to which they refer, except when a preposition such as to is used.
e.g This is the lady who gave us the tomatoes. Here who is a pronoun relating to the lady.
Relative pronouns also act as conjunctions because they join parts of sentences, known as clauses.
This is the lady whom you met at the fair. Here whom again refers to the lady and is the object of met.
This is the lady whose tomatoes we used to make sauce. Whose refers to the the lady.
Many errors in meaning arise from relative pronouns not being placed next to the noun to which they refer.
DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS are this, that, these, those
e.g.This is a pretty dress but I like those better.
INTERROGATIVE PRONOUNS are who, which, what, whose
e.g. Which of the books do you like best?
INDEFINITE PRONOUNS are none, anybody, someone, anything
DISTRIBUTIVE PRONOUNS are each, either, neither, everybody, everyone
Nearly all of the above are only pronouns if standing alone
e.g. Each of the books is worth reading. Here each is a pronoun,
Each book is worth reading each is an adjective.
As you can see, pronouns are useful words which can be used to add variety to writing. Their simplicity is attractive
but you must not over use them if it is not clear to whom you are referring.
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