“Anna is a new student. Anna is from Germany. Anna is friendly and smart.”
Did you notice something about these sentences? Do you think there is a better way to rewrite these sentences? How about using pronouns and making it “Anna is a new student. She is from Germany. She is friendly and smart.” Better, right?
Thank heavens for pronouns; we do not have to repeat every noun in succeeding sentences. But what are pronouns exactly? What are they for?
Look no more because on this page; we are discussing everything there is to know about pronouns. Please read on.
- What are Pronouns?
- What are the 8 Types of Pronouns in English Grammar?
- Which 6 Pronoun Rules Help with General English?
- Why are Pronouns Important in Academic Writing?
- Why Do Pronouns Matter?
What are Pronouns?
A pronoun is a word or phrase that replaces a noun phrase or a noun in a sentence, known as the pronoun’s antecedent.
Pronouns are brief words that can perform all of the functions of nouns and are one of the sentence’s building components. ‘I’, ‘you’, ‘we’, ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’, ‘they’, ‘us’, ‘this’, and ‘that’ are some of the most common pronouns.
Pronouns can take the place of any person, animal, object, or place and can operate as a direct object, indirect object, an object of the preposition, subject, and more.
So, ‘tea’ becomes it, ‘Belle’ becomes ‘she’, ‘John’ becomes ‘he’, ‘the sisters’ becomes ‘they’, and the sentence “Belle drinks a cup of tea every morning.” may become “She drinks a cup of it every morning.”, or even “She drinks it every morning.”, where ‘it’ replaces the ‘cup of tea’, not just the ‘tea’.
What are the 8 Types of Pronouns in English Grammar?
Like other word classes, pronouns can be categorized into different types depending on their forms and functions.
To help you get yourself acquainted with the different types of pronouns, we have enumerated and explained in detail these types below.
Type 1 – Personal Pronouns
Personal pronouns are a diverse group of pronouns that refer to specific people, animals, things, or concepts.
They are complicated since they might take on different forms to reflect various grammatical distinctions.
They can be singular or plural (‘I’ vs. ‘we’), and when used as the subject or object of a sentence (“I gave it to him” vs. “He gave it to me”), they can change form.
Personal pronouns can also indicate if a noun phrase is male, female, or inhuman/inanimate.
|Person||Subject Pronouns||Object Pronouns|
|Person||Subject Pronouns||Object Pronouns|
Type 2 – Indefinite Pronouns
Indefinite pronouns refer to indeterminate things. In contrast, personal pronouns refer to someone or something specific.
Type 3 – Interrogative Pronouns
Despite their rarity, interrogative pronouns are so widely employed in English.
When formulating queries, these pronouns are used to refer to humans, animals, things, and concepts.
|who||“Who told you about the incident?”|
|whom||“To whom did you give the money?”|
|whose||“Whose car is that?”|
|what||“What is the capital of the USA?”|
|which||“Which of the boys took the ball?”|
Type 4 – Possessive Pronouns
Possessive pronouns are another tiny subset of pronouns that are frequently employed. They denote a possessor-possessed relationship between two objects.
|I||mine||“That red purse is mine.”|
|you||yours||“Are these books yours?”|
|we||ours||“They have booked their tickets. When will we book ours?”|
|he||his||“He is wearing his favorite shirt.”|
|she||her||“She gave her mom a bouquet of roses.”|
|it||its||“The puppy is wagging its tail.”|
|they||theirs||“Our house is painted white. Theirs is painted brown.”|
Type 5 – Demonstrative Pronouns
The four demonstrative pronouns should not be confused with the demonstrative determiners, which belong to the same category.
Pronouns substitute noun phrases, while determiners pre-modify them, as shown in the following examples.
|Demonstrative Pronouns||Used as a |
|Used as a |
|this||“This is heavy.” (bag)||“This bag is heavy.”|
|that||“That is haunted.” (house)||“That house is haunted.”|
|these||“These are delicious.” (cupcakes)||“These cupcakes are delicious.”|
|those||“Those are expensive.” (cars)||“Those cars are expensive.”|
Type 6 – Relative Pronouns
Relative pronouns are similar to interrogative pronouns but for the addition of ‘that’, ‘whichever, ‘whoever, and ‘whomever’.
The primary distinction is that instead of questions, this pronoun category introduces relative clauses.
|Used as a |
|who||“The student who won the most awards is Max.”|
|whom||“The neighbor whom he always asked help from has moved to another city.”|
|whose||“The family whose house was burned down are now homeless.”|
|which||“The laptop which was stolen a week ago has been found.”|
|that||“The vase that was given by my aunt was antique.”|
|whichever||“Whichever technique works best for you, is up to you.”|
|whoever||“Whoever is interested, can join the competition.”|
|whomever||“Whomever you are going with, just make sure to stay safe.”|
Type 7 – Reflexive Pronouns
Reflexive pronouns are rarely used in written English. These are used to show when something has triggered action in response to itself.
While it is simple to remember that these pronouns are produced by adding the suffix ‘-self’ (singular) or ‘-selves’ (plural) to a personal pronoun, students should keep in mind that they can only refer to nouns phrases that are within the same clause.
Type 8 – Reciprocal Pronouns
Reciprocal pronouns and reflexive pronouns are similar in that they both must be employed in the same clause as the noun phrase to which they are referring.
Whereas reflexive pronouns reveal when someone or something has produced action on itself, reciprocal pronouns illustrate when two humans, animals, or things have the same experience.
|each other||“Jane and Pam gave each other a friendship bracelet.”|
|one another||“The students in my school greet one another every morning.”|
‘One another’ is a prescriptive term for three or more individuals or objects, while ‘each other’ is usually used to express reciprocity between two items.
Which 6 Pronoun Rules Help with General English?
While pronouns are few in number and appear to be simple, they have a number of requirements that must be studied in order to acquire advanced English competence.
After delving into the eight different sorts of pronouns in the previous section, we will now talk about the six pronoun rules that, when followed, dramatically increase grammatical accuracy.
Rule 1 – Know which are subjects and objects in a sentence.
The first rule is a syntactic rule (sentence structure).
Because some pronouns change form depending on whether they are the subject or object of an expression (whether they are doing or receiving the verb’s action), you must be able to recognize these two phrase functions in order to select the appropriate pronoun form.
|you||“You look exactly like your mother.”||“I will call you when the program is about to start.”|
|he||“He is an only son.”||“I gave him a new pair of shoes for his birthday.”|
|we||“We should meet every other day to practice for the match.”||“They need to give us back our passports.”|
|they||“They were tired and exhausted after a long day at work.”||“I should give them a reward.”|
Rule 2 – Consider the referent
Another typical mistake made by non-native speakers is the erroneous use of gendered personal pronouns for persons, animals, and things.
For example, only use ‘he’, ‘him’, and ‘his’ with males, ‘she’ and ‘her’ with females, and ‘it’ and ‘its’ with animals, things, and concepts. These rules, however, may occasionally be broken:
- If the gender of the creature is important, male and female pronouns can be utilized.
- The inhuman or inanimate pronoun ‘it’ may sometimes be used to refer to babies.
- Some items with which humans have a close relationship, such as vehicles, countries, and cities, may be referred to using feminine pronouns.
Rule 3 – Use pronouns and conjunctions carefully.
When using the coordinating conjunction ‘and’, it is especially common (even among native speakers) to use the incorrect personal-pronoun form, which you need to avoid.
|WRONG USAGE||CORRECT USAGE|
|“Her and her buddy arrived late to class.”||“She and her buddy arrived late to class.”|
|“My family and me love to travel.”||“My family and I love to travel.”|
|“Our parents asked my siblings and I to clean the house.”||“Our parents asked me and my siblings to clean the house.”|
Rule 4 – Pay attention to the number
It is also worth noting that some pronouns, such as the singular ‘she’ and ‘someone’ vs. the plural ‘they’ and ‘everyone’, alter form to express changes in number.
Singular pronouns require singular verbs, just as plural pronouns require plural verbs.
While this is simple to remember in most cases, there are three indefinite pronouns that a lot of people are struggling with (including natives). These are the singular words ‘each’, ‘either’, and ‘neither’.
|“Each of us are invited to the ball.”||“Each of us is invited to the ball.”|
|“Are either of you willing to go with me?”||“Is either of you willing to go with me?”|
|“Neither of the students want to attend the lecture.”||“Neither of the students wants to attend the lecture.”|
Rule 5 – Remember that agreement is important
Subject-verb agreement is when a subject and its verb must agree in number and person for an expression to be accurate.
This is especially crucial when utilizing relative pronouns to build relative sentences because pronouns like ‘who’, ‘that’, and ‘which’ might be singular or plural depending on the topic they relate to.
|“Dan is the only one of those students who submitted their work on time.”||“Dan is the only one of those students who submitted his work on time.”|
|“I think it is you who is wrong.”||“I think it is you who are wrong.”|
Rule 6 – Pay attention to possession.
Finally, when an expression refers to two individuals who share something, you may want to use possessive pronouns like ‘mine’ and ‘hers’, although possessive determiners like ‘my’ and ‘her’ are more grammatically correct.
|“Mine and Susan’s presentations are tomorrow.”||“Susan’s and my presentation are tomorrow.”|
|“Those dolls are my and Allison’s.”||“Those dolls are mine and Allison’s.”|
Why are Pronouns Important in Academic Writing?
It is always a good idea to get your pronoun usage straight, whether you are writing an essay or giving a presentation to your teacher/professor or class.
Thankfully, the following three suggestions will assist you in doing so.
Tip 1 – Avoid personal pronouns
Personal pronouns such as ‘I’ and ‘you’ should be avoided in academic tasks, according to EAP tutors at universities worldwide.
However, while this rule is true to some extent, it does not hold true 100% of the time.
Some tasks, such as reflective papers, may demand the use of personal language, and published materials such as textbooks and journal articles may also use personal pronouns on occasion.
Finally, academic language is intended to be highly objective.
Thus, limiting subjective language by limiting personal pronouns is, for the most part, sound advice. With this in mind, we have come up with four strategies to help you get there.
1. Concentrate on the Facts
You can limit your personal language by using terms that focus on the experiment, results, proof, or literature instead of phrases like ‘I believe’, ‘I agree’, or ‘I am persuaded that’ which link to the writer subjectively.
“The results show that…”
“According to Table 1…”
“The study proves that…”
“Considering these pieces of evidence…”
2. Employ the passive voice
The passive voice, which emphasizes the receiver of a verb’s action above the doer, is a grammatical device that can also be used to reduce subjectivity.
|“We interviewed thirty-two participants from all over Asia.”||“Thirty-two participants from all over Asia were interviewed.”|
|“She mixed the chemicals for about half an hour.”||“The chemicals were mixed for about half an hour.”|
3. Use the pronoun ‘it’
‘I’, ‘you’, and other personal pronouns can also be avoided by using ‘it’ phrases, which are frequently used with passive constructions.
“It is evident that…”
“It is argued that…”
“It can be concluded that…”
“It has been proven that…”
4. Do not employ personal language.
Finally, one simple strategy is to eliminate all personal language.
You should be able to see if any personal language may be removed without materially affecting the message by carefully revising and rereading your writing.
|“We use fundamental ideas to help readers understand our arguments.”||“Fundamental ideas are used to help readers understand the arguments.”|
|“I think water pollution is a major issue that needs to be solved.”||“Water pollution is a major issue that needs to be solved.”|
Tip 2 – Eliminate ambiguity
It is critical that this reference is crystal clear because pronouns are frequently employed to link back to previously specified noun phrases.
A lack of clarity can cause your reader to become confused and reread a sentence, decreasing the consistency of your writing.
Take, for example, the sentences below to see how this ambiguity works in practice. It is uncertain whether ‘it’ refers to ‘smoking’ or ‘air pollution’ in (1), and whether ‘they’ refers to ‘the government’ or ‘smoking and air pollution’ in (2).
|“Despite the fact that smoking and air pollution have decreased, it is still prevalent in most countries.”||“Despite the fact that smoking and air pollution have decreased, they are still prevalent in most countries.”|
|“Governments have made investments to reduce smoking and air pollution, and they have had an impact on world health.”||“Governments have made investments to reduce smoking and air pollution, and this has had an impact on world health.”|
Tip 3 – Carefully choose personal pronouns.
Because personal pronouns are occasionally required in academic texts, such as in reflective writing or a lab report, the points below may be helpful when the previous tactics fail:
- When referring to yourself throughout a text, do not alternate between using the first person (‘I, my, us, our’) and the third person (‘the researcher, the author’).
- Eliminate gender bias with male and female pronouns: whereas previous literature may have used masculine pronouns like ‘he’ and ‘him’ to represent gender neutrality, this is no longer the case; instead, students should use the neutral ‘they/their/them’ in both plural and single contexts wherever possible.
- If you cannot be precise about the group you’re referring to and need a referential pronoun, consider using ‘one’ and ‘they’ instead of ‘we’ or ‘you’, as in “One should study hard if they hope to pass.”
Why Do Pronouns Matter?
Pronouns may be simple to define but complicated to use.
Some of them may have the same form but have different functions and meanings, and it depends on how well you know about them to be able to use them properly.
Moreover, using the correct pronouns is also vital in academic and personal settings.
Some sentence structures involving pronouns sound informal and are not proper in the academic context.
Also, using the correct pronouns when talking about/with the people around us is a sign of respect and politeness.
We hope that the information we have provided you here in this article has helped you gain more knowledge about pronouns and how to use them more effectively.
Additional Reading — ENGLISH GRAMMAR
- What is British English?
- What is American English?
- What is Canadian English?
- What is Australian English?
- 30+ Tips to Speak English Without Grammar Mistakes
- What Are Idioms?
- What Are Verbs?
- What Are Nouns?
- What Are Adjectives?
- What Are Adverbs?
- What Are Tenses?
- What Are Punctuation Marks?
- What Are Prepositions?
- What Are Loanwords?
- What are Phrasal Verbs?
- What Are Collocations?
- What Are Conjunctions?
- What are Modals?
- What is Subject-Verb Agreement?
- What Are Sentence Structures?
- What Are Sentence Parts?
- What are Sentence Functions?
- What Are Clauses?
- What are the Common Slang Words in the English Language?
- What are the Commonly Misspelled Words in English?