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PARTS OF SPEECH: PRONOUNS

A pronoun can replace a noun or another pronoun.


A. PERSONAL PRONOUNS: Personal pronouns refer to specific persons, places, or things.
1. Subjective Case: A personal pronoun should be in the subjective case (form) if the pronoun functions as a
subject or subject complement. A subject pronoun usually comes before the verb; a subject complement
pronoun follows a linking verb.
Singular
First person:
I
Second person:
you
Third person:
he/she/it

Plural
we
you
they

Examples:
We are successful. (Subject)
They like pizza. (Subject)
The winners were Kim and I. (Subject
complement)

2. Objective case: If a pronoun stands for any other noun than a subject or subject complement, use
the objective case. Object pronouns can be direct objects (DO), indirect objects (IO), or
objects of
prepositions (OP). Notice that you and it are in both lists.
First person:
Second person:
Third person:

Singular
me
you
him/her/it

Plural
us
you
them

Examples:
The secretary notified us today. (DO)
My aunt wrote me a letter. (IO)
For her, I would do anything. (OP)

B. POSSESSIVE PRONOUNS: Possessive pronouns act as adjectives that show ownership.


1. These possessive pronouns act as adjectives showing ownership:

First person:
Second person:
Third person:

Singular
my
your
his/her/its

Plural
our
your
their

Examples:
My friend found his dog.
Their cat sharpened its claws.

Note: Do not confuse the pronoun its with the contraction its, which means it is.
2. These possessive pronouns stand for an adjective possessive pronoun plus a noun:
Example: That backpack is mine. (mine = my backpack)
Singular
First person:
mine
Second person:
yours
Third person:
his/hers

Plural
ours
yours
theirs

Example:
The decision is yours to make.
(yours = your decision)

C. INDEFINITE PRONOUNS: Indefinite pronouns are noun substitutes that are not specific
(definite) in meaning.
1. Indefinite pronouns fall into two categories:
List 1. Pronouns that refer to a non-specific noun:
anybody, anyone, anything, everybody, everyone, everything, nobody,
none, no one, nothing, somebody, someone, something
Example: Nothing gets accomplished without some effort.
List 2. Pronouns that refer to a specific noun whose meaning is clear only because of a previous
mention or because of words that follow the indefinite pronoun:

all, another, any, both, each, either, few, many, neither, one, some, several.
Examples: Several are planning to fly to New York.
(The identity of the group that is flying to New York would have
already been mentioned.)
Do you want some of these books?
(Books makes clear the meaning of some.)
Note: The indefinite pronouns in List 2 function simply as adjectives when they are
are directly followed by nouns.
Examples: Several students received awards.
My mother baked some pies for the picnic.
2. Indefinite pronouns may be singular or plural. The verbs (underlined) must match in number.

Singular

another
anybody
anyone
anything
each
either
everybody
everyone
everything
both
few
many
several

Plural

neither
nobody
no one
nothing
one
somebody
something
someone

Examples:
There are four groups of students,
and each has its own assignment.
Something unexpected is happening.

Examples:
Both of the documents were signed.
Many in the audience agree with the speaker.

Note: When these indefinite pronouns are followed by a prepositional phrase, the
pronoun should agree in number with the noun that is the object of the preposition.
Singular
or Plural
(depending on
the noun it
stands for)

all
any
either
none
some

more
most

Examples: Some of the planning is finished.


Some of the apples are ripe.
Remember that the verb must agree in number with
the bolded antecedent. Planning takes a
singular verb and apples takes a plural verb.

D. RELATIVE PRONOUNS: A relative pronoun connects (relates) an adjective clause or a noun


clause to the rest of the sentence.
1. Relative pronouns that introduce adjective clauses: When a relative pronoun introduces an
adjective clause, the pronoun refers to a noun already mentioned in the main clause of the sentence.
who

whose

whom

which

that

Examples (Adjective clauses are underlined):


The mystery novel that she recently completed will be published next year.
(That refers back to novel and acts as a direct object in the adjective clause.)

Healing is more rapid for patients who have a positive attitude.


(Who refers back to patients and acts as the subject of the adjective clause.)
2. Relative pronouns that introduce noun clauses:
who
whoever

whom
whomever

what
whatever

which
whichever

whose
that

Within a sentence, a noun clause may function as a subject, complement, appositive, or object of a verb
or preposition. The relative pronoun acts as a subject or object within the noun clause, though
the normal word order may be changed. Note: Who and whoever are used as subject pronouns,
whom and whomever are used as object pronouns. (Noun clauses are underlined.)

and

Examples: Whoever uses the kitchen should wash the dishes. (The noun clause is the
subject of the sentence. Whoever is the subject of the noun clause.)
The criminal got what he deserved. (The noun clause is the direct object of the verb
got. Within the noun clause, what is the direct object of the verb deserved,
even though it comes before the verb.)
E. INTERROGATIVE PRONOUNS: An interrogative pronoun introduces a question.
who
whoever

whom
whomever

what
whatever

which
whichever

whose

Notice the similarity of this list to the relative pronoun list. Like relative pronouns,
interrogative pronouns can have different grammatical functions. As in all questions, the word
order may not be normal.
Examples: Whose books are those? (adjective modifying books)
Whom will Mr. Broder select as head of the committee? (direct object of
the verb will select)
In which of his two poems does the author express himself most
effectively? (object of the preposition in)
F. DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS: The four demonstrative pronouns point out nouns. They often
act as 1.) adjectives, indicating which person(s), places(s), or thing(s) are being referred to or as
2.) noun substitutes when the noun is understood.
this

that

these

those

Examples: These problems are easy to solve. (adjective modifying problems)


Do you like this wallpaper? (adjective modifying wallpaper)
You like these apples, but I prefer those. (These acts as an adjective
modifying
apples; those acts as a pronoun that stands for the noun apples.)
G. INTENSIVE PRONOUNS: Intensive pronouns emphasize nouns or other pronouns. They
immediately follow the noun they emphasize. If an intensive pronoun is omitted, the sentence
will still make sense grammatically.
Singular:
Plural:

myself
ourselves

yourself
yourselves

himself

herself
themselves

itself

Examples: The bank president himself called to apologize for the error.
(Himself emphasizes president.)
She herself was not as concerned as others were about the problem.

(Herself emphasizes she.)


H. REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS: Reflexive pronouns rename subjects of action verbs. They
function as various types of objects. If the reflexive pronoun is omitted, the sentence will
not make sense. Note that the following list is the same as the list of intensive pronouns above.
Singular:
Plural:

myself
ourselves

yourself
yourselves

himself

herself itself
themselves

Examples: The logger cut himself with his ax. (direct object of the verb cut)
Kim poured herself a cup of coffee. (indirect object of the verb cut)
The old man was talking loudly to himself. (object of the preposition to)
I. RECIPROCAL PRONOUNS: Reciprocal pronouns refer to individual parts of a preceding
plural noun.
each other
one another
Examples: The children waved goodbye to each other as they parted.
The students helped one another study before the test.

Provided Courtesy of the Tacoma Community College Writing and Tutoring Center