Pronouns in English

A pronoun is a word that we use instead of a noun.

We use a pronoun when we don’t want to repeat the noun. In English there are several different kinds of pronouns:

  1. Demonstrative Pronouns – this, that, these, those
  2. Personal Pronouns – I, you, he, she, we, they.
  3. Possessive Pronouns – mine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs.
  4. Reflexive Pronouns – myself, yourself, himself, herself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves.
  5. Interrogative Pronouns – who, whom, whose, which, what.
  6. Negative Pronouns – no, none, no-one, nobody.
  7. Reciprocal pronouns – each other, one another.
  8. Relative pronouns – who, whom, whose, which, that.

Today we will just take the first four – Demonstrative; Personal; Possessive and Reflexive.

1. Demonstrative / dem’ɒnstrǝtiv / Pronouns.

A demonstrative pronoun tells us which particular thing or person we are talking about.
(To demonstrate / d’emənstreɪt / means to show or tell us something.)

  • THIS refers to a person or object that is near to the person speaking. Plural THESE.
  • THAT refers to a person or object that is far from the person who is speaking. Plural THOSE.
  • For example:
    This boy is here beside me. That boy is over there by the window.
    These books are here on this table. Those books are on that chair over there.

2. Personal / p’ɜ:sǝnǝl / Pronouns:

These refer to people:

  • I – (me); I am the person who is talking; ( i.e. the first person singular.)
  • YOU – are the person I am talking to; (i.e. the second person singular).
  • HE / SHE is the person that I am talking about; (i.e. the third person singular).
  • WE are the first persons (I) in the plural.
  • THEY are the third persons (HE / SHE) in the plural.

The second person YOU has no plural in English and so it is easy to remember.

3. Possessive / pǝz’esɪv / Pronouns:

We use these to talk about something that belongs to somebody.
(Possession / pəˈzeʃən / means having or owning something)

  • MINE means that it belongs to me.
  • YOURS means that it belongs to you.
  • HIS / HERS means that it belongs to another person, either male or female.
  • OURS is the plural of MINE.
  • THEIRS is the plural of HIS / HERS.

Again, the second person has no plural but stays as YOURS.

4. Reflexive / refl’eksɪv / Pronouns:

We use a reflexive pronoun to explain that a person is doing an action to himself / herself.
For example:
Reflexive – I wash myself before I eat my dinner. (I am washing ME)
NOT reflexive – I wash the car every Sunday. (I am washing something else).

  • MYSELF refers to the first person singular.
  • YOURSELF refers to the second person singular.
  • HIMSELF / HERSELF refers to the third person singular.
  • OURSELVES is for the first person plural.
  • YOURSELVES is for the second person plural.
  • THEMSELVES is for the third person plural.

NOTE: This time the second person has a plural. This is because the word SELF changes to SELVES in the plural.
Related Content:

Towson University
Oxford Dictionaries

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