1.3 Pronouns

3. Pronouns


1st / 2nd / 3rd  P Pronoun, Possessive Pronoun, Reflexive Pronoun, Interrogative Pronoun, Indefinite Pronoun, Demonstrative Pronoun


What is a Pronoun?

The easiest way to define a pronoun is “any word which takes the place of a noun”

John went to the Mary’s house.                                           He ­ went to her house..


Personal Pronouns. (Also included in this group is the pronoun it, though this pronoun does not usually refer to a person.)

There are three personal pronouns, and each has a singular and a plural form:     

Person      Singular     Plural

1st              I                  we

2nd             you             you

3rd             he/she/it      they

These pronouns also have another set of forms:  

Person         Singular     Plural

1st              me               us

2nd             you              you

3rd              him/her/it     them

 The first set of forms (I, you, he…) exemplifies the SUBJECTIVE CASE, and the second set (me, you, him…) exemplifies the OBJECTIVE CASE. The distinction between the two cases relates to how they can be used in sentences i.e. what position they take up.

As well as personal pronouns, there are many other types, which we summarise here.   


mine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs              The white car is mine”


myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, oneself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves         

                                                                He injured himself playing football”

Relative                that, which, who, whose, whom, where, when           

                                                                The book that you gave me was really boring”

Demonstrative     this, that, these, those                   This is a new car”

Interrogative        who, what, why, where, when, whatever        What did he say to you?”

Indefinite              anything, anybody, anyone, something, somebody, someone, nothing, nobody, none, no one 

                                                                       There’s something in my shoe”

 Many of the pronouns listed above also belong to another word class – the class of determiners. They are pronouns when they occur independently, that is, without a noun following them, as in This is a new car. But when a noun follows them – This car is new – they are determiners. So a pronoun is always a word which replaces a noun, not one which precedes one.

The amazing importance of pronouns.

An author’s use of pronouns is very often down to helping the text stick together (cohesion) – but more often than not, it will betray a lot about just what the author is up to. What can an author be up to using the following:

  1. first person singular pronouns
  2. first person plural pronouns – inclusive
  3. first person singular pronouns – exclusive
  4. second person pronouns
  5. third person possessive pronouns
  6. impersonal pronouns
  7. reflexive pronouns
  8. demonstrative pronouns
  9. interrogative pronouns


For each type of pronoun listed, construct part of a text where these words might be used to good effect, e.g. an advert, a restaurant review, a romance novel, a tabloid article, etc.

Swap and comment on the uses of pronouns in these extracts                                                                                                                                          

Some pronouns are more worthy of comment than others, but once identified they can always tell us something about a text. They should be considered as one of the first ports of call in textual analysis (and are consequently a marker of a D/C grade analytical essay.)      

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