Pronouns Nouns Word Classes Tips Grammar English Learn Teaching Tips Types of Nouns

A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun or replaces a noun. Pronouns are used instead of nouns to avoid monotony or boredom – which can lead to a reader to stop reading. It also causes mind fatigue because of the repetition of the same words. For example: ‘John is a good person. John likes cooking and farming. John is married and has three children. John does not drink alcohol and John does not smoke.’

Instead, a writer can opt to use a pronoun or pronouns which would make reading easy and enjoyable. For example: ‘John is a good person. He likes cooking and farming. He is married and has three children. John does not like drinking alcohol and he does not smoke.’

The pronoun used in the above example, he, is a pronoun. Other commonly known pronouns are she and it.

The following are the different types of pronouns:

a) Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns refer or represent specific people or things. The personal pronouns may represent:

i) Number – In singular and plural (e.g. I or me)

ii) Person – That is, first person (I), second person (you) and third person (he/she)

The first person pronoun refers to the person speaking.

The second person pronoun refers to the person spoken to

The third person refers to the person spoken about

iii) Gender – Male and female (e.g. he or she)

iv) Case – Subject or object of the sentence (e.g. I or me)

b) Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns are used to refer to a particular person or people indicating something or somebody belongs to that person or people. According to Heather MacFadyen of University of Ottawa, a possessive pronoun indicates that the pronoun is acting as a marker of possession and defines who owns a particular object or person.

The possessive pronouns include: my, mine, our, ours, your, yours, his, hers, her, theirs and their.

Example: John likes his little sister

              I wonder where she puts her book

c) Interrogative Pronouns

Interrogative pronouns are used to form or ask questions. According to English Club, interrogative pronouns represent the things we don’t know (what we are asking the question about).

The interrogative pronouns include: who, whose, which, what and whom.

Example: What did they want?

               Who are those people?

d) Reflexive Pronouns

Reflexive pronouns are used to refer back to the subject of the sentence. They are formed by adding ‘-self.’

They include: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves and themselves.

Example: I did that work myself

e) Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns are used to refer to an unspecified individual or group of people. This means that these pronouns are not definite.

They include: nobody, somebody, anybody, anyone, someone, everyone, any, all, some, another, few, many, none, several and few.

Some indefinite pronouns may occur in singular or plural while there are others which may be singular in one setting and plural in another.

Examples: Jane seems to be friendly to everyone

                I know few students who were involved

f) Relative Pronouns

Relative pronouns are used to join or link one phrase or clause to another phrase or clause.

Relative pronouns include: who, whom, whose, which and that.

Example: You should ask who took your pen

Whomever, whoever and whichever which are compounds are also relative pronouns.

g) Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are used to point to a noun (things, people, and ideas) and/or pronoun.

Demonstrative pronouns include: this, these, that and those.

Demonstrative pronouns, therefore, replace nouns and function in the same way as nouns in a sentence.

Example: This book belongs to Jane

              Those are my shoes