• Article graphics | Merriam-Webster

Types of Pronouns Treated with Examples

A Pronoun is a word that may be used in place of a nounOpens in new window, noun phraseOpens in new window, or (occasionally) a whole clauseOpens in new window, to refer to antecedentsOpens in new window or words that have appeared earlier in a sentence or paragraph.

Pronouns which include small words, such as, I, me, he, she, we, they, etc., are inestimable as an instrument of avoiding serial repetition of nouns already mentioned. As substitutes for nouns, pronouns function exactly as nouns do: they function as subjectOpens in new window, objectOpens in new window, and complement to the verb as required.

In grammar, pronouns usually stand for the person or thing that we speak or write about:

They usually don’t start a discourse, nouns are used first and then pronouns subsequently to prevent boring repetitions of the same noun.

Types of Pronouns

There are a variety of pronouns in English grammar, the common ones are briefly discussed below:

  1. Personal Pronoun

    Personal pronounsOpens in new window refers to specific people or objects: I, you, he, it, we, they, etc.

  2. Demonstrative Pronoun

    Demonstrative pronounsOpens in new window points to a specific person, object, or thing: this, that, these, those.

  1. Possessive Pronoun

    Possessive PronounsOpens in new window indicate ownership or possession: mine, his, hers, yours, etc.

  2. Interrogative Pronoun

    Interrogative pronounsOpens in new window are used to introduce questions: who, whom, whose, what, which.

  3. Reciprocal Pronoun

    Reciprocal pronounsOpens in new window serve as objects of verbs when the subjects are plural: each other, one another.

  1. Reflexive Pronoun

    Reflexive pronounsOpens in new window are used to indicate that the subject and object of the verb are one and the same: myself, yourself, herself, etc.

  2. Indefinite Pronoun

    Indefinite pronounsOpens in new window are used to refer to people or objects that are not specific: anyone, everyone, each, every, some, all, few, much, etc.

  3. Relative Pronoun

    Relative pronounsOpens in new window relate groups of words to nouns or other pronouns: who, whom, whose, which, that, whoever, etc.

  4. Expletive Pronoun

    The words it and there followed by the subject of the sentence are expletive pronouns.

    Examples of Expletive Pronoun
    • There were only a few tickets left.
    • It was a long list of chores.

    When using an expletive, the verb agrees with the subject, as:

    • There remains one child on the bus.
    • There remain many children on the bus.

Introducing the Pronoun Antecedent

The noun or words for which a pronoun stands or refers back to is what is called the antecedentOpens in new window.

Observe the following examples:
  1. Example 1:
    • Andrew washed his shoes.

    (In this sentence, his refers to Andrew.

    Andrew is the antecedent for the pronoun his.)

  2. Example 2:
    • Gretchen and her parent were working out in their gym.

    This sentence contains two pronouns and two antecedents.

    The pronoun her refers to Gretchen, so Gretchen is the antecedent of her; their refers to Gretchen and her parent. Gretchen and her parent is the antecedent of the pronoun their.

  3. Example 3:
    • Being a woman in a male-dominated profession has its advantages and disadvantages.

    (Here, its refers to the phrase being a woman in a male-dominated profession; the entire phrase is the antecedent.)

See pronouns and antecedentsOpens in new window for comprehensive studies on Pronoun Antecedent.

Avoiding Unclear or Vague Pronoun Allusion

An unclear or vague pronoun allusion makes a sentence confusing and difficult to understand.

Initial version
  • The teacher and the student knew that she was wrong.

Who was wrong: the teacher or the student?

The meaning is unclear. Rewrite the sentence to avoid confusion.

Rephrased version
  • The teacher and the student knew that the student was wrong.
  • Share

Trending Collections

Recommended Books to Flex Your Knowledge