Unless one becomes a teacher, most people have no idea how many pronouns there are out there to help out in speaking and specifying. As a teacher of English, it is not only this writer’s responsibility to teach them but to do so in a way that is understandable and memorable.
I) Personal/Subject Pronouns
These words are at the top of the list of pronouns since they have a very important job to do; they replace nouns. The first thing a teacher is obliged to do is place a list of nouns on the board and then point out to the class that it becomes monotonous and at times awkward to say the objects by their names continuously so we replace them with pronouns. Put a list of all the pronouns on the board or better yet have a poster of them.
e.g.: on board
noun personal/subject pronoun
In a sentence: Mark and I have got the same bags. The bags are both dark blue.
Write the sentence on the board and have the students identify the subject pronoun and then have them say where a noun can be replaced and with which subject pronoun. Provide a few more sentences to practice replacing the nouns with pronouns, but before doing that first practice orally replacing the nouns of objects in the class with their subject pronouns.
II) Object Pronouns
Again have a list of the object pronouns visible to the class. Then instead of explaining what the object is and how it functions, simply tell the class that before the object pronoun there is always a verb.
e.g.: on board
Verb + object pronoun
Tammy is sitting with me.
Point out the verb with the help of students and circle it. Then underline (again with the help of students) the object pronoun. Continue with examples or better yet an exercise where the class must choose between the subject and object pronouns.
III) The Possessives
Many foreigners confuse the possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns. As a matter of fact in some countries there is only one word used in both cases which makes learning the English difference quite a task. It would be wise to place both lists on the board but above each write the following:
Possessive Adjective + noun …………… Verb + Possessive Pronoun
Then take the first list and make examples of that using the students in the class and their objects.
e.g.: “Sally, is this your book?” [while you are holding Jim’s book]
Sally should answer: “No, it isn’t. That’s/It’s Jim’s book.”
And then you prompt for another student to replace “Jim’s book” with “his book”. After that short oral exercise refer to the possessive pronouns and do the same examples only this time elicit answers using the possessive pronouns.
e.g.: “Sally is this books yours?” “No, it isn’t. It’s Jim’s. It’s his.”
IV) Demonstrative Pronouns
These are much easier to understand and remember. Firstly, there are only four: this, that, these, those. Point out the following so that learning them can be made a simple event:
For something that is close: this
e.g.: “This is my whiteboard marker. “(You hold up your marker for the class to see)
For things that are close: these
e.g.: “There are my whiteboard markers.” (You hold up two markers in your hand for the class to see).
For something that is far: that
e.g.: “That is a poster of autumn.” (Point to the poster)
For things that are far: those
e.g.: “Those are posters of the seasons.”(Point to the different posters)
And as in the previous lessons, exercises should follow to implement the information presented.
V) Intensive (Emphatic) and Reflexive Pronouns
These are the pronouns which refer to the ‘self’: myself, yourself, himself, herself, etc.
The emphatic/intensive pronouns emphasize a noun or pronoun. They draw attention to them for some reason that those nouns or pronouns caused.
e.g.: “The teacher herself took Helen to the school nurse.”
In the above example the intensive pronoun ‘herself’ emphasizes that the noun ‘the teacher’ performed a task personally that otherwise may not have been necessary.
We wrote the play ourselves.
‘Ourselves’ emphasizes that no one else took part writing the play other than the pronoun ‘We’.
As pointed out above intensive and reflexive pronouns are the same words. The difference is how they are used. Hence, the reflexive pronouns refer back to the subject without intensifying.
e.g.: Helen bought herself a new hat.
Herself refers to the fact that what Helen bought was not for someone else.
Make certain to clarify to the class that Reflexive and Intensive pronouns can never replace personal pronouns.
VI) Reciprocal Pronouns
These are ‘each other’ and ‘one another’ and they refer to mutual relationships.
“As a class we must take care of each other/one another. That way we create a safe and friendly atmosphere which helps us learn better.”
VII) Indefinite Pronouns
In grammar indefinite means general. Therefore, indefinite pronouns do not refer to something specific but to persons, places or things in general. They do replace nouns but without specifying which.
There are singular and plural and some of both indefinite pronouns:
Singular or plural: all, any, more, most, none, some (depending on what the indefinite pronoun refers to)
Singular: another, anybody, anyone, anything, each, either, everybody, everyone, everything, little, much, neither, nobody, no one, nothing, one, other, somebody, someone, something
Plural: both, few, many, others, several
Many students, especially foreigners, make the mistake of writing ‘an other’ instead of ‘another’.
Make certain everyone realizes it is one word not two. Also emphasize that those indefinite pronouns that end in –one, –body, -thing refer to a SINGLE group and so need a singular verb:
Everyone is, Somebody is, Everything is perfect……etc.
Again this is very important to stress especially for any foreign students.
Relative Pronouns begin a secondary clause and refers to or connects with a noun that precedes it in the same sentence.
The Relative Pronouns are: that, which, whichever, who, whom, whose, whoever, whomever, what, whatever, where, wherever.
‘which’ refers to people, animals or things and indicates ‘which one’
e.g.: The boy which is seated behind Stella is Timmy.
‘that’ can refer to people, animals or things
e.g.: Timmy is a student that is friendly with everyone.
‘whose’ refers to whom something belongs
e.g.: I found this bag outside, but I don’t know whose it is.
If you feel that the students need explanations for all the relative pronouns than prepare similar explanations and examples as above. Some of the above relative pronouns are also used to begin questions and they are called:
VIII) Interrogative Pronouns
More specifically these are:
Who, whom, whose, what and which
Whose classmate is Timmy? ….etc.
Hopefully the information accumulated on this article will be helpful. Feel free to expand on anything deemed necessary and always make certain you understand what is about to be said first. That way your students have a greater chance of understanding the presentation the first time and always use pictures and sounds (where possible) to make what is being taught a memorable experience. Above anything else, have fun!