Definition of Pronouns
Words that are used in place of a noun to avoid its repetition, used according to the number and gender. Examples are He, She, They, etc.
Example: I saw a boy on the roof. He seemed to recognise me.
In this article you get the following things
- Personal Pronoun
- Reflexive Pronoun
- Distributive Pronoun
- Emphatic Pronoun
- Demonstrative Pronoun
- Indefinite Pronoun
- Interrogative Pronoun
- Relative Pronoun
- Reciprocal Pronoun
- Pronoun Exercise
Personal Pronouns are used in place of Proper Noun. They refer to the association with a particular person.
If a pronoun refers to a noun, which has already been mentioned, the noun is called the antecedent of the pronoun. An antecedent (noun) usually precedes the pronoun. A noun can also follow the pronoun provided that it is obvious to what the pronoun is referring to. Example
The mangoes are cheap, but they are not ripe yet. In this example, the noun ‘mangoes’ is the antecedent of the pronoun ‘they’.
The pronoun should agree with the antecedent in number and person and gender.
If the antecedent of a pronoun is singular, a singular pronoun must be used. If the antecedent of a pronoun is plural, a plural pronoun must be used. Example.
- I have a pen. It is quite smooth.
- I have two pens. They are quite smooth.
- This is my brother. He is younger than I am.
- These are my brothers. They are younger than I am.
- This is my friend Rani. She is older than I am.
In the above example, the pronouns agree with the antecedents in number, person, and gender. The third person plural pronoun ‘they’ can be used to stand for either male or female antecedents.
A pronoun should clearly refer to the noun it stands for. It stands for.
In the following example, it is not clear to which nouns the underlined pronouns. Example.
- My friend was there with her aunt. She was wearing a red saree. (incorrect)
- The children stared at the dogs. They were ready to jump. (incorrect)
In the first example, the pronoun ‘she’ could stand either for the noun ‘friend’ or for the noun ‘aunt’. Similarly, in the second example, the pronoun ‘they’ could stand for either ‘children’ or ‘dogs’.
When it is not obvious, to which antecedent a pronoun refers, the sentence should be corrected.
This can be done either by repeating the noun, or by rewriting the noun, or by rewriting the sentence to make the meaning clear.
For instance, the preceding example could be corrected as follows. It will be assumed that ‘she’ refers to ‘friend’ and ‘they’ refers to ‘dogs’. Example.
- My friend was there with her aunt. My friend was wearing a red saree. (correct)
- The children stared at the dogs. The dogs were ready to jump. (correct)
- When the verb ‘to be’ is immediately followed by a personal pronoun, the pronoun must be in the subjective case. Example. It is I.
Note: nowadays, this rule is usually ignored. The verb ‘to be’ is also being followed by the objective form of the pronoun.
Thus, in informal English, the sentence ‘It is I’ would usually be expressed as ‘it is me’.
When a personal pronoun is the object of a verb, the pronoun must be in the objective case. Example.
- They like me.
- We respect you.
Pronouns used as possessive adjectives with gerunds. When a gerund is preceded by a personal pronoun, the pronoun must be in the form of a possessive adjective. Example.
- The girl said that her writing had improved.
- The boy entertained the guest with his singing.
In both the above example, the underlined words are gerunds, preceded by the italicised words, which indicates the pronoun.
Pronoun follows ‘Let’.
When a pronoun follows ‘let’, we use the objective form of the pronoun. We say – ‘Let us go to hospital’ we should not use the subjective form after ‘let’. Example.
Let him who is without guilt throw the first stone.
Following is the table for defining the use of proper pronoun with respect to each case which I explain earlier.
|1st||Speaker||I, We||Me, Us||Mine, our, [my, our]|
|3rd||Discussed||He, She, It, They.||Him, Her, It, Them||Hers, Theirs, [ her, his, its, their]|
If all the pronouns are in singular form, then the good manners demand that second person pronoun should come first and then the third person. The first person should take the last position, i.e. 2=3=1. Example.
- You, he, and I are partners.
- He and I are good friends.
- You and he are working in the same office.
- You and I can do this work.
B. If the collective noun denotes separation or division, the pronoun used is plural.
- The jury were divided in their opinions.
- Ram and Mohan went to their school.
Note: If both the nouns so joined by ‘and’ denote the same person, the pronoun used would be singular.
- The collector and magistrate is negligent in his duty.
- Every teacher and every boy was in his room.
- Each of the students is ready to do his duty.
Note: But if one noun is plural, then the pronoun should be plural and plural noun should be placed near the verb. e.g.
- Either the principal or the teachers failed in their duty.
- Neither the teacher nor the students have done their work.
The reflexive pronouns (ending in-‘self’) are used when the action denoted by the verb is directed toward the thing referred to by the subject. This means that whenever there is a reflexive pronoun in a sentence, there must be a person to whom that pronoun can refer. e.g.
- She washed herself thoroughly before putting on a new dress.
- Students who cheat in this test are only harming themselves.
1. When pronouns are combined, the reflexive pronoun will take either the first person or, when there is no first-person, the second person. e.g.
(a) Ram, and I have decided ourselves about purchasing a house.
(b) You and Ram have ruined yourselves.
2. Transitive verbs take objects with them. If a transitive verb has no object, the reflexive pronoun fills the place of the object. Such commonly used verbs are avail, absent, enjoy, resign, apply, revenge, exert, etc. e.g.
(a)I absented myself from the office.
(b) I revenged myself upon her.
3. Verbs when used intransitively don’t need an object. In such a case, we should not use any reflexive pronoun as an object.
Such commonly used verbs keep, break, set, bathe, make, stop, steal, qualify, move, open, draw, rest, roll, burst, hide, feed, gather, etc. These verbs are commonly used intransitively.
(a) He kept away from the function. (Incorrect)
He kept himself away from the function. (Correct)
(b) Let us rest at the bed. (Incorrect)
Let us ourselves rest at the bed. (Correct)
4. The indefinite pronoun ‘one’ has its own reflexive form (‘One must have faith in oneself.’), but the other indefinite pronouns use either ‘himself or ‘themselves’ as reflexives.
A. As a pronoun, ‘one’ can also function in an impersonal, objective manner, standing for all people in general who belong to a class. e.g.
(a) The young actress was awful: one felt embarrassed for her.
(b) If one fails, then one must try again
B. We should not mix the impersonal ‘one’ with another pronoun, especially in the same sentence. e.g.
(a) If one fails, then he/you must try again. (Incorrect)
If one fails then one must try again. (Correct)
(b) One must be conscientious about his dental hygiene. (Incorrect)
One must be conscientious about one’s dental hygiene. (Correct)
The emphatic pronouns (such as myself, yourself, herself, ourselves, themselves) consist of a personal pronoun plus ‘self’ or ‘selves’.
You can use The emphatic pronoun to emphasize the subject. e.g.
(a) I myself solved this question.
(b) She herself found the solution.
A. Reciprocal pronouns refer to persons or things that are acting on each other. ‘Each other’ and ‘one another’ are the only two reciprocal pronouns.
You should always use these pronouns objectively. Both phrases can use to refer to either persons or things. e.g.
(a) You and I saw each other last week.
(b) The two friends helped each other with their work.
B. If more than two persons are involved (let’s say, ‘a large book club’), we would say:
(a) The two friends quarrelled with each other.
(b) They all gave gifts to one another.
The words ‘this’, ‘that’, demonstrative pronouns. These are used to denote specific persons or things. In the following examples, the words ‘this’, ‘that’, ‘these’ and ‘those’ are used as demonstrative pronouns. ‘these’ and ‘those’ are
(a) This is an umbrella.
(b) That is a good idea.
A pronoun that refers to a person or thing in a general way (not in a definite way) is known as an indefinite pronoun. The indefinite pronouns everybody, anybody, somebody, all, each, every, some, none, one do not act for specific nouns but function themselves as nouns.
Interrogative Pronouns should be use to ask questions. Examples are who, whom, which, what, etc.
A relative pronoun can be use to connect clause or phrase to a noun or pronoun.
(a) The woman, who is wearing red saree, is a doctor.
(b) The door, which is dark blue, is very tight.
In above examples, the italicised words are relative pronouns.
1. The relative pronoun ‘that’ can be used for living and non-living nouns, for singular as well as plurals. e.g.
(a) I have lost the book that you gave me.
(b) He that is content is happy.
2. No preposition is used before ‘that’, if any proposition is required to be used, it is used in ending position. e.g.
(a) We know the hotel that she lives in.
(b) This is the lady that I told you about.
3. In a sentence after the mentioned words, ‘that’ is generally used: all, any, anybody, anything, much, nothing, little, somebody, no one, none. e.g.
(a) All that glitters is not gold.
(b) There was none that didn’t support the cause.
4. After interrogative pronoun who’ and what’, ‘that’ is used. e.g.
(a) What is it that you can’t solve
(b) Who is there that I can’t see.
5. When ‘whom’ or which is the object of a preposition, the preposition should mediately precede the relative pronoun. e.g.
(a) The boy to whom we sent the parcel was very glad.
(b) The house to which you will be conducted has large rooms.
6. When the relative pronoun ‘that’ is the object of a preposition, the preposition is normally placed at the end of the relative clause.
For instance, if ‘that is used, the second example of point 5 must be rewritten as follows.
The house, that you will be Conducted to, has large rooms.
7. The antecedent of a relative pronoun should not be in the possessive case. e.g.
(a) These are Chairman’s instructions that must be followed. (Incorrect)
These are the instructions of the Chairman that must be followed. (Correct)
(b) I went to Sarla’s house, who is my class fellow. (Incorrect)
I went to the house of Sarla who is my class fellow. (Correct)
8. The relative pronoun should be of the same number and person as to its antecedent. It means, the verb should agree with the number and person of the antecedent. e.g
(a) The girl, who was late, was fined.
(b) The girls, who were late, were fined.
(c) I, who am responsible for the loss, shall pay.
(d) They, who live in glass houses, do not throw stones.
A pronoun used for individuals and objects referring to them as one at a time.
1. If feminine gender noun follows any of the distributive pronouns, then use the personal pronoun ‘her’. e.g.
(a) Neither of these two girls has deposited her fees.
(b) Either of the two girls has received her gift.
2. If a plural pronoun (us/them/you) follows the distributive pronoun, use singular masculine gender pronoun. e.g.
(a) Neither of them has done his duty.
(b) Each of them has forgotten his purse.
- It was me who telephoned you yesterday.
- The girl whom you spoke to in the office, is my friend.
- My brother and myself are glad to get your greetings.
- I am not one of those who cannot keep his promise.
- It is not us who are responsible for the delay.
- They admired his wife and he.
- What place are you going?
- Which house do you live?
- She has again absented from duty today.
- I could not avail of the opportunity I got last year.
- The treatment received by me was such, which I never expected.
- His expectation is the same which is hers.
- One cannot bear his insult like this.
- My house is bigger than their.
- This is a secret between you and I.
Answers of Pronoun Exercise:
- It was I who telephoned you yesterday.
- The girl who you spoke to in the office, is my friend.
- My brother and I are glad to get your greetings.
- I am not one of those who cannot keep their promise.
- It is not we who are responsible for the delay.
- They admired his wife and him.
- What place are you going to?
- Which house do you live in?
- She has again absented herself from duty today
- I could not avail myself of the opportunity I got last year.
- The treatment received by me was such as I had never expected.
- His expectation is the same as is hers.
- One cannot bear one’s insult like this.
- My house is bigger than theirs (or, their house).
- This is a secret between you and me.
If you want to learn more about pronouns them you can watch the following video.
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