English Grammar: Pronouns

A Pronoun is a word used instead of a Noun. Using a proper noun each time, you wish to talk about a person, place or thing. This can make the conversation or piece of writing very boring and repetitive. To avoid this monotony, we use pronouns in place of nouns. These words make the writing crisp.

Singular Personal Pronouns: he, she, it, I, me, him, her, you

Plural Pronouns: we, us, you, them, they, their

Personal Pronouns

I, we, you, he, she, it, they are called Personal Pronouns. They stand for the three persons:

  • person speaking
  • person spoken to
  • person spoken of

The Pronouns I and we, which denote the person or persons speaking, are said to be Personal Pronouns of the First Person.

The Pronoun you, which denotes the person or persons spoken to, is said to be a Personal Pronoun of the Second Person. You is used both in the singular and plural.

The pronouns he (she) and they, which denote the person or persons spoken of, are said to be Personal Pronouns of the Third Person. It, although it denotes the thing spoken of, is also called a Personal Pronoun of the Third Person. The pronoun of the Third Person has three Genders - Masculine (he), Feminine (she) and Neuter (it).

Possessive Pronouns

Words such as his, hers, mine, ours, theirs, and yours show possession or ownership. They are called possessive pronouns. They are used alone and do not have a noun after them.

Forms of the Personal Pronouns

First Person (Masculine or Feminine) 

  • Nominative/Subject: I, We
  • Possessive: My, Mine, Our, Ours
  • Accusative/Object: Me, Us

Second Person (Masculine or Feminine)

  • Nominative/Subject: You
  • Possessive: Your, Yours
  • Accusative/Object: You

Third Person

  • Nominative/Object: He, She, It, They
  • Possessive: His, Her, Hers, Its, Their, Theirs 
  • Accusative/Subject: Him, Her, It, Them

It

The Pronoun it is used for things without life, for animals, unless you clearly wish to speak of them as male and female, for a young child, unless you clearly wish to refer to the sex, to refer to some statement going before.

Subject Pronouns Agreement

When two or more Singular Nouns are joined by and, the Pronoun used for them must be Plural. For example,

  • Rama and Had work hard. They are praised by their teacher.

When two Singular Nouns joined by and are preceded by each or every, the Pronoun must be Singular. For example,

  • Every soldier and every sailor was in his place.

When two or more Singular Nouns are joined by or or either...or, neither... nor, the Pronoun is generally Singular. For example,

  • Rama or Hari must lend his hand. 
  • Either Sita or Amina forgot to take her parasol.

When a Plural Noun and a Singular Noun are joined by or or nor, the Pronoun must be in the Plural. For example, 

  • Either the manager or his assistants failed in their duty.

Reflexive and Emphatic Pronouns

When -self is added to my, your, him, her, it, and -selves to our, your, them, you get Compound Personal Pronouns. They are called Reflexive Pronouns when the action done by the subject turns back (reflects) upon the subject.

When Compound Personal Pronouns are used for the sake of emphasis, they are called Emphatic Pronouns.