Grammar Guide for Pronouns

Pronouns are short words which can do everything a noun does. A pronoun can act as a subject, direct object, indirect object, object of the preposition, and more. They are substituted for any noun. Using pronouns helps the flow of sentences and makes them more interesting. They provide context, clarify meaning, and shape how we perceive people and things. Without pronouns, we’d constantly have to repeat nouns, and that would make our speech and writing repetitive. 

PRONOUN: a word used as a substitute for a noun or to refer to a noun, their antecedent.

Types of Pronouns

1. Personal Pronoun:refers to a specific person or thing. Personal pronouns have number, gender, and case.

    Note: When teaching personal pronouns keep in mind that some languages have masculine, feminine, and neuter forms for each person, singular and plural. Whereas other languages have only one form for third person singular without a gender.

    A. Subject Pronoun: always functions as a subject. (I, you, he, she, it, we, they) For specific details, see the table below. 
      • I am eating.
      • He is watching a video.
      • They are playing.

      Personal Pronouns Classroom Poster Chart

      Using ‘they’ and ‘them’ as a neutral singular 3rd person pronoun has become very popular. This is not new. In fact, usage dates to the 1300s. He, she and it became correct grammar sometime in the 1800s. (The Associated Press, American Psychological Association, Modern Language Association, Oxford English Dictionary, and Merriam-Webster Dictionary recognize the usage of singular ‘they’ and ‘them’.) There are several reasons for using singular they and them.

      • Reduce wordiness
        • A student should have his or her homework finished.
        • A student should have their homework finished.
      • Unknown Gender
        • Someone left his or her coat here.
        • Someone left their coat here.
      • Gender Inclusive for people who do not identify as male or female
      B. Object Pronoun: acts as a direct object, indirect object, or object of a preposition. (me, you, him, her, it, us, them) For specific details, see the table below.
        • Direct object: I called her yesterday.
        • Indirect Object: We gave him a present.
        • Object of Preposition: She wrote a report about them.
        C. Possessive Pronoun: indicates ownership. It does not come before a noun. Never add an apostrophe to a possessive pronoun. (mine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs) For specific details, see the table below. 
          • The blue coat is mine.
          • The green house is theirs.
          • The backpack on the floor is hers.

          Possessive Pronoun Classroom Poster

          D. Possessive Adjective: These are often confused with possessive pronouns because they show possession. However, a possessive adjective never stands alone. They are always before a noun. Compare with the section above. (my, your, his, her, its, our, their)
            • That one is my coat.
            • The green one is their house.
            • Her backpack is on the floor.
            E. Reflexive (Intensive) Pronoun: refers to a subject or clause and ends with -self or -selves. (myself, himself, herself, itself, yourself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves)  For specific details, see the table below.
              • I made it by myself.
              • He chose the shirt by himself.
              • Don't blame yourself.

               

              SUBJECT

              OBJECT

              POSS.

              REFLEX.

              1st

              I

              me

              mine

              myself

              2nd

              you

              you

              your

              yourself

              3rd

               

               

               

              he

              she

              it

              they

              him

              her

              it

              they

               his

              hers

              its

              theirs

               himself

              herself

              itself

              themself

              1st

              we

              us

              ours

              ourselves

              2nd

              you

              you

              yours

              yourselves

              3rd

              they

              them

              theirs

              themselves

               

              2. Demonstrative Pronoun: a pronoun used to identify or point to a noun. ‘This / that’ refers to a single object. ‘These / those’ refers to plural objects. ‘This / these’ refers to close object/s, whereas ‘that / those’ refers to object/s that are distant.
                • This table is new. (close, singular)
                • That table is old. (distant, singular)
                • These socks are clean. (close, plural)
                • Those socks are dirty. (distant, plural)
                3. Indefinite Pronoun: refers to a nonspecific thing, person or quantity. They can be singular, plural, or either.
                  • Singular
                  • everything, something, anything, nothing
                  • everyone, someone, anyone, no one
                  • everybody, somebody, anybody, nobody
                  • everywhere, somewhere, anywhere, nowhere
                  • each, one, other, either, neither, enough, much, less
                  • Plural: many, several, few, fewer, both, others
                  • Either: all, most, more, some, little, such, any, none

                  Indefinite Pronoun Classroom Chart (Coming soon)

                  A. Indefinite Quantities: act as adjectives when placed before a noun. (all, another, any, both, each, either, few, least, less, little, a lot of, lots of, many, more, most, much, neither, one, other/s, plenty of, several, some)
                    • We played all day.
                    • Are there any cards?
                    • We have some carrots.
                    4. Interrogative Pronoun: used to begin a question. (what, who, which, whom, and whose)  
                      • What is the time? What is that? (things)
                      • Who is here? Who are you talking with? (people)
                      • Which one is best? Which will be more appropriate? (choice)
                      • These books belong to whom? (objects)
                      • Whose is this? (possession)
                      5. Reciprocal Pronoun: has the same identity as the subject.
                        • They worked with each other well. (two people)
                        • Talk to one another and choose a topic. (3 or more people)
                        6. Interrogative Pronoun:are used to form questions. In informal usage, who replaces whom.
                            • Who is playing the piano?
                            • Whom do you want?
                          7. Relative Pronoun:used to introduce a clause. (who, whom, whose, that, which)
                              • Person-Subject: She is the one who won the race.
                              • Person-Object: I paid the man whom I had hired.
                              • Person-Possessive: This is the girl whose picture you saw.
                              • Thing: The car that won the race is number 63.
                              • Thing: Here is a book which describes the planets. 

                            Pronoun Usage

                            1. A pronoun must agree in number with the noun.
                              • Incorrect: John picked up our backpack. (John is singular)
                              • Correct:  John picked up his backpack.
                              A. Singular Antecedents
                                • Preceded by each or every
                                  • Every book and magazine has its place in the library.
                                  • Each apple and orange has its special nutrients.
                                • Joined by or
                                  • Neither Li or Yan has finished his assignment.
                                • Collective Nouns
                                  • The group presented its report.
                                • Indefinite Pronoun with Noncount Noun
                                  • Some of the salt fell out of its shaker. (Salt is noncount)
                                • Singular Indefinite Pronoun
                                  • Each of the children has his or her own desk.
                                • Unknown Gender
                                  • Has Min or Akmah written their letter? (singular their)
                                • Plural / Single Joined by Or
                                  • Neither her parents or Glenna can lend us her car.
                                B. Plural Antecedents
                                  • Compound Subject Joined by And
                                    • Tom and Bea walked to their school.
                                  • Indefinite Pronoun with Count Noun
                                    • All of the marbles fell out of their bag. (marbles is a count noun)
                                  • Single / Plural Joined by Or/Nor
                                    • Neither Glenna nor her parents can lend us their car.
                                  2. A pronoun must agree in person.
                                    • Incorrect: A teacher should have your lesson prepared. (Third person, not second person)
                                    • Correct: A teacher should have his or her lesson prepared.
                                    • Correct: A teacher should have their lesson prepared.
                                    3. A third person singular pronoun must agree in gender.
                                      • Incorrect: Jane took his dog for a walk.
                                      • Correct: Jane took her dog for a walk.
                                      4. A pronoun should agree in case.
                                        • Incorrect: Him came to school. (object)
                                        • Correct: He came to school. (subject)
                                        5. A pronoun must refer to a specific noun. The original noun is referred to as an antecedent. A pronoun must have a clear antecedent.