Pronoun Types*

8 Parts of Speech: Pronoun Types

April 4, 2019

Native English Instructor

Written by Douglas Shaw

Pronouns can be used in place of nouns (when needed), and a pronoun works just like a noun in a sentence. It’s important to remember, however, to use pronouns carefully:

Subject Pronouns

Subject pronouns work as the subject of the verb in a sentence. A subject pronoun normally replaces the subject/object (a noun) of the previous sentence.

e.g.

  • Paul cannot attend class today. He has gone to Bali.

Object Pronouns

Object pronouns are those pronouns that receive the action in a sentence. They are me, you, him, her, us, them, and whom. Any noun receiving an action in the sentence, like these pronouns, is an object and is categorized as objective case. These pronouns always take the objective case, whether they are indirect object pronouns or direct object pronouns. 

Note: the subject is in bold, the verb is in italics, and the object pronoun is in bold and is underlined.

e.g.

  • Our grandparents gave us money for our anniversary.
  • Bob took her to work Monday.

Possessive pronouns

Possessive pronouns replace the nouns of the possessive adjectives: my, our, your, her, his, their. The possessive pronouns are mineoursyourshers, his, itstheirs. The pronoun ‘who’ also has a possessive form, whose.Possessive pronouns are not followed immediately by a noun; they can stand alone.

(Subject: I, Object: me, Possessive adjective: my, Possessive pronoun: mine).

yoursminetheirsourshershisits
SubjectObjectPossessive adjectivesPossessive pronouns
Imemymine
Youyouyouryours
Hehimhishis
Sheherherhers
Itititsits
Weusourours
Theythemtheirtheirs

We can use a possessive pronoun instead of a noun phrase:

e.g.

  • Is that Sarah’s car? No it’s mine.
  • Her phone is blue, mine is silver.

We can use possessive pronouns after of.

e.g.

  • Nandi is one of my friends.
  • I am one of Sarah’s friends.

Reflexive Pronouns

Reflexive pronoun redirects a sentence or a clause back to the subject, which is also the direct object of that sentence. A reflexive pronoun comes when the subject performs its action upon itself.

e.g.

  • We told ourselves that we were so lucky to be alive.
  • We don’t have to go out; we can fix dinner ourselves.
  • You are too young to go out by yourselves.

Intensive Pronouns

Intensive pronouns add importance but do not act as the object in the sentence. An intensive pronoun is almost identical to a reflexive pronoun. It is defined as a pronoun that ends in self or selves. They can appear right after the subject.

The intensive pronouns have been italicized for ease of identification.

e.g.

  • I will do it myself. (Here, ‘myself’ is not an object)
  • Steve wondered aloud whether he himself was the only one seeing what was happening.

Relative Pronouns

Relative pronouns introduce the relative clause. They are used to make clear what is being talked about in a sentence. They describe something more about the subject or the object.

SubjectObjectPossessionUncertainty
Which Which WhoseWhichever—(for things)
That That —- (for both things and people)
WhoWhomWhoseWhoever/whomever/whosever —- (for person)

e.g.

  • The cyclist who won the race trained hard.
  • The car that was stolen was the one they loved most.
  • Our school, which was founded in 1874, is being renovated.

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns normally indicate the closeness of or distance from the speaker, either literally or symbolically.  Thisthesethat, and those are the demonstrative pronouns. They also work as demonstrative adjectives when they modify a noun.

e.g.

  • This was my mother’s ring
  • That looks like the car I used to drive.
  • These are nice shoes, but they look uncomfortable.

Interrogative Pronouns

Interrogative pronouns produce questions. They are what, which, who, whom, and whose.

Who, whom, and whose refer to questions related to a person or animal; what refers to an idea, object, or event; and which can indicate either a person/s or a thing/s.

e.g.

  • What do you want for dinner?
  • Which is your favorite movie?
  • Who is that?
  • Whom do you prefer in this election?
  • Whose phone is that?

In some cases, interrogative pronouns take on the suffix –ever. A few can also take on the old-fashioned suffix –soever, which is rarely seen in writing these days. For example:

  • Whatever
  • Whatsoever
  • Whichever
  • Whoever
  • Whosoever
  • Whomever
  • Whomsoever
  • Whosever
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