English teachers and professors all across the globe explain the use and misuse of a pronoun, where it goes in a particular sentence, and why it is being used over a regular noun. The correct use of subject pronouns and object pronouns can be easy to forget. A quick review will remind you to look for the subject and the action in the sentence, and then the pronoun will not be far behind.
We use pronouns in the English language to help reduce the amount of repetition we use in everyday language. Take, for instance, the sentence “The boy went to school.” If we used the words “the boy” every single time we spoke about the same young man, the repetition would probably upset the people we were talking to.
Every time we say “the boy” it takes away from the originality of the sentence and the listener becomes bored. With pronouns we can change things up a bit. Instead of “the boy” we can say “he.”
Sometimes it can be hard to tell between subject and object pronouns.
Subject pronouns are exactly what they sound like; they are pronouns that replace the subject in the sentence. Once you understand what a subject is, it will be very easy to tell what type of pronoun to use to replace it.
Let’s take our example from before, “The boy traveled with friends.” In this sentence, "the boy" is performing the action - the subject is "the boy." If you want to use a pronoun to replace this subject, we need to think of which of the pronouns would make sense here:
I, we, you, he, she, it, or they
Read the sentence out loud to yourself and instead of saying “the boy,” try replacing the subject with one of the pronouns. In this example, a good subject pronoun would be "he." The sentence becomes "He traveled with friends."
Now we can move on to the object pronoun. With object pronouns you are trying to find replace the object in the sentence, or what is being done to, from, or with the action. In our above example, “The boy traveled with friends.” The object is "friends."
Object pronouns have their own list of words that can be used to replace repetitive nouns. This list includes:
me, you, him, her, it, us, and them
Again, try finding the appropriate object pronoun to replace “friends” from our original example. You could try saying “The boy traveled with them” or “The boy traveled with us.” Each pronoun could be correct as long as you continue speaking in the same person.
With our subject and object pronouns, each pronoun falls under a particular “person” and is either a singular or plural pronoun.
Both singular and plural pronouns have a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person pronoun.
It can sound confusing at times. If you have a tough time remembering the type of pronoun, just remember to ask yourself what is the subject and what is being done to, from, or with the action in the sentence. If you can remember those two things, you will be on your way to being a personal pronoun master.
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