A pronoun is a word that replaces a noun in a sentence. Pronouns are used so that our language is not cumbersome with the same nouns being repeated over and over in a paragraph. Some examples of pronouns include I, me, mine, myself, she, her, hers, herself, we, us, ours and ourselves. You may have noticed that they tend to come in sets of four, all referring to the same person, group or thing.
The truth is that there are many different types of pronouns, each serving a different purpose in a sentence.
Personal pronouns can be the subject of a clause or sentence. They are: I, he, she, it, they, we, and you. Example: “They went to the store.”
Personal pronouns can also be objective, where they are the object of a verb, preposition, or infinitive phrase. They are: me, her, him, it, you, them, and us. Example: “David gave the gift to her.”
Subject pronouns are often (but not always) found at the beginning of a sentence. More precisely, the subject of a sentence is the person or thing that lives out the verb.
There is often confusion over which pronouns you should use when you are one half of a dual subject or object. For example, should you say:
Some people will tell you that you should always put the other person first and refer to yourself as "I" because it's more proper, but those people are wrong. You can put the other person first out of politeness, but you should always use the correct pronouns (subject or object) for the sentence.
A good test to decide which one you need is to try the sentence with one pronoun at a time. Would you say, "Me had a fight?" Of course not. You'd say, "I had a fight." What about, "Him had a fight?" No, you'd say, "He had a fight." So when you put the two subjects together, you get, "He and I had a fight." The same rule applies to the other example. You wouldn't say, "The police arrested he," or, "The police arrested I." You would use "him" and "me."
So the correct sentence is, "The police arrested me and him."
Absolute possessive pronouns – mine, yours, ours, theirs, his, hers, its – are truly pronouns because they refer to a previously named or understood noun. They stand alone, not followed by any other noun. Take a look at this sentence:
There are two types of pronouns here: personal (you/I) and possessive (mine). There's also a possessive adjective (your).
Your is followed by the noun vices, so although we know that your refers to you, it is not the noun or the noun substitute (pronoun). Vices is the noun. In the second half of the sentence, however, the noun and the possessive adjective have both been replaced with one word – the pronoun, mine. Because it stands in the place of the noun, mine is an absolute pronoun whereas your is a possessive adjective that must be followed by a noun.
Pronominal possessive adjectives include: my, your, our, their, his, her and its. They are used as pronouns as they refer to an understood noun, showing possession by that noun of something. They are technically adjectives, though, because they modify a noun that follows them.
In all of these examples, there is a noun (money, race horse, jockey) that has not been replaced with a pronoun. Instead, an adjective is there to show whose money, horse and jockey we’re talking about.
These pronouns do not point to any particular nouns, but refer to things or people in general. Some of them are: few, everyone, all, some, anything, and nobody.
These pronouns are used to connect a clause or phrase to a noun or pronoun. These are: who, whom, which, whoever, whomever, whichever, and that.
These pronouns are used to emphasize a noun or pronoun. These are: myself, himself, herself, themselves, itself, yourself, yourselves, and ourselves.
There are five demonstrative pronouns: these, those, this, that, and such. They focus attention on the nouns that are replacing.
These pronouns are used to begin a question: who, whom, which, what, whoever, whomever, whichever, and whatever.
There is one more type of pronoun, and that is the reflexive pronoun. These are the ones that end in “self” or "selves." They are object pronouns that we use when the subject and the object are the same noun.
We also use them to emphasize the subject.
Now see if you can find all the pronouns and possessive adjectives in this paragraph:
No matter what your teachers may have taught you about pronouns, the I's don't always have it. If your teachers ever warned you about the evils of gambling, however, they were right about that. You don't want someone breaking your kneecaps with his crowbar; it will hurt, the police might arrest you, and you may never forgive yourself.
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