A pronoun is a word used in place of a noun.
Common pronouns: I, you, he, she, it, we, they, his, hers, its, me, myself, mine, us, yours
An antecedent is the noun that the pronoun refers to or replaces. All pronouns have antecedents.
ex: The speaker coughed and reached for the glass of water. When the glass reached his lips, he noticed a fly that was “swimming” in the water. [speaker is the antecedent of his and he; fly is the antecedent of that]
Pronouns have to agree with their antecedents
Pronouns should refer to the noun that immediately precede them.
ex: Problem: When he opened the freezer to take out the fish, it made a hissing sound.
Corrected: The freezer made a hissing sound when he opened it to take out the fish.
**All pronouns must agree with their antecedents in number, person, and gender.
In sentences with a singular indefinite pronoun as the subject, use a singular verb. (Use a singular verb with these indefinite pronouns: each, either, neither, one, everyone, everybody, everything, someone, somebody, anybody, anything, something, nobody, and another.)
ex: Each of the kittens has white paws.
Some indefinite pronouns (all, any, most, none, some) can be either singular or plural.
ex: Most of my uncle’s fields are planted by the end of May. (Use a plural verb when the noun in the prepositional phrase that follows the indefinite pronoun is plural. In the example sentence, the noun fields is plural.)
ex: Most of my uncle’s field is under water. (Use a singular verb if the noun in the prepositional phrase is singular. In the example sentence, the noun field is singular.)
ex: Problem: Everyone must perform at their peak.
Corrected: Everyone must perform at his or her peak.
(Everyone is singular, as are his or her.)
NUMBER OF PRONOUNS - Pronouns can be either singular or plural in number.
Singular – I, you, he, she, it
Plural – we, you, they
Note: The pronouns you, your, and yours may be singular or plural.
ex: Problem: If parents need childcare services during the assembly, you should contact the office.
Corrected: If parents need childcare services during the assembly, they should contact the office.
(Since parents is a third-person subject, they - a third-person pronoun - correctly replaces the second person pronoun you.)
PERSON OF A PRONOUN - The person of a pronoun tells us whether the pronoun is speaking, being spoken to, or being spoken about.
A first-person pronoun is used in place of the name of the speaker.
ex: I am speaking.
We are speaking.
A second-person pronoun is used to name the person or thing spoken to.
ex: Eliza, will you please listen.
You dogs better stop growling and listen, too.
A third-person pronoun is used to name the person or thing spoken about.
ex: Bill better listen if he ever wants to use the car again.
Personal Pronouns - Personal pronouns take the place of nouns in a sentence; they come in many shapes and sizes.
Simple – I, you, he, she, it, we, they
Compound – myself, yourself, himself, herself, ourselves
Phrasal – one another, each other
USES OF PRONOUNS
A pronoun can be used as a subject, an object, or to show possession.
ex: I like myself when things go well.
ex: “It is I,” growled the big wolf from under Grandmother’s bonnet.
“It is he!” shrieked Little Red as she twisted his snout into a corkscrew.
An OBJECT PRONOUN can be used as the object of a verb or preposition (me, you, him, her, it, us, them).
ex: “You saved me!” shouted Grandmother, as she leaped from the closet [Me is the direct object of the verb saved because it received the action of the verb.]
Grandmother told us the story of her narrow escape. [Us is the indirect object of the verb told because it indirectly receives the action of the verb.]
Is this fairy tale too scare for you? [You is the object of the preposition for.]
A possessive pronoun shows possession or ownership.
ex: my, mine, our, ours, his, her, hers, their, theirs, its, your, yours
Notes: You do not use an apostrophe with a personal pronoun to show possession.
A relative pronoun is both a pronoun and a connecting word. It connects a subordinate clause to the main clause.
ex: China is the country that has the largest population in the world. [That relates to country]
The Chinese, who boast of having 40 cities with more than a million people each, can also point to the fact that every sixth person in the world is Chinese. [Who relates to Chinese and that relates to fact.]
An interrogative pronoun asks a question.
ex: Who wants to go?
Which star would you visit?
Whom would you take along for company?
Whose company could you stand for that long?
A demonstrative pronoun points our or identifies a noun without naming the noun. When used together in a sentence, this and that distinguish one item from another, and these and those distinguish one group form another.
ex: This was a great idea; that was a nightmare.
CAUTION: Do not add here or there to a demonstrative pronoun.
ex: This here was a great idea; that there was a nightmare. [incorrect]
NOTE: Who is used to refer to people. Which refers to animals and non-living things but never to people. That can refer to people, animals, or things.
ex: Who said you could order pizza, which is classified by some as junk food, for dinner?
It was the new baby-sitter that you hired.
An intensive pronoun emphasizes or intensifies the noun or pronoun it refers to. Common intensive pronouns include itself, myself, himself, herself, and yourself.
ex: Though the chameleon’s quick-change act protects it from predators, the lizard itself can catch insects 10 inches away with its long, sticky tongue.
NOTE: The sentence would be complete without the intensive pronoun. The pronoun simply emphasizes lizard.
A reflexive pronoun is a pronoun that throws the action back upon the subject of a sentence.
ex: A chameleon protects itself from danger by changing colors. [direct object]
A chameleon can give itself tasty meals of unsuspecting insects. [indirect object]
I wish I could claim some of its amazing powers for myself. [object of the preposition]
NOTE: These sentences would not be complete without the reflexive pronouns.
An indefinite pronoun is a pronoun that does not specifically name its antecedent.
ex: Will somebody reach the stars some day? If anybody could travel at the speed of light, it would still take more than four years to reach the nearest star.