Grammar-QuizzesNoun PhrasesNouns › Pronouns

Pronouns

Recognize function and form

X structure diagram
walking
We walk our dog.
diagram
► What is a pronoun? ▼ Explanation of term

A pronoun

  • expresses a person or thing without specifying the name of the noun or thing.  A pronoun is commonly used on second mention of a noun.
  • functions as a shortened reference to a noun;
    • the  pronoun may be definite:  He called.  or it may be indefinite: Somebody walks the dog everyday.
    • the pronoun may be personal he/him, she/her, we/us, etc. or impersonal it/them or there (existence).
  • takes form as a subject pronoun: I, we, you, he, she, they, it or as an object (accusative) pronoun me, us, him, her, them, or it.

Possessive pronouns mine, ours, yours, hers, his, theirs, its are determiners.

Pronouns (more below)

Personal (I / me)

Indefinite (somebody)

Double (subj/obj)

Antecedent

Reflexive (myself)

Gender Neutral

Indefinite Pronouns

Everyone–their

Anyone/ Any one

Nobody/ Anybody

It / They (impersonal)

One, You, They (impersonal)

I or Me?

Pronoun Summary

 

 
persian cat

Identify specific English grammar points that need review.

 

Personal Pronouns

Personal Pronouns: refer to personal nouns

Beg. ESL

Dancing

Lea is dancing.   She enjoys dancing.
Sammy is dancing with  Lea.   He likes her.

She gave a demonstration to my friend and me.
She gave a demonstration to my friend and  I .

Indefinite Pronouns: refer to unknown persons or things

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

fisherman

Everyone had his fishing pole.

Some had their fishing poles.

Everyone had their fishing pole. (informal usage)

Double Pronouns: refer to two personal nouns

Native Speakers

Bachelor talking to date

Me and Diana got to know each other.
Diana and I got to know each other.

I had a good feeling about her and I
I had a good feeling about her and me

Reflexive Pronouns: refer to all or part of oneself

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

self dressed

I washed myself.
I dressed myself.

I brushed my teeth.
I shampooed my hair.

Genitive Pronouns (Determiners)

Genitive Pronouns:  mark nouns for possession 

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

Naughty Dog

Our dog is over here. / Ours is over here.  

All of the owners bring water for their (own) dogs.

One  should exercise one's dog. (impersonal)

You should exercise your dog. (impersonal)

They don't like dogs there. Their dislike is unusual. (impersonal)

Collective Pronouns: refer to the group or its individuals

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

Paparazzi

The paparazzi made its purpose clear. It had a right to be outside her house.

The paparazzi placed their cameras right in her face. They were rude, even mean.

There / It Pronouns

There as Subject: refer to the existence of something

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

dipping cookies in milk

There is milk, yogurt and eggs on the table. (En-US)

There are milk, yogurt and eggs on the table. (En-Br)

There is milk there(locational preposition)

Milk, yogurt and eggs are on the table.

There/Their/They're: indicating location, existence or possession

Beginning–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

Neighborhood Food Truck Events

Each week there is an event. location

Chefs prepare gourmet food-to-go. Their menus vary.

There's a mobile truck that delivers lunch.

It / There Subjects: refer to weather, time, or existence

Intermediate–Advanced ESL

rain drops

Is it still raining?  It's cloudy.   (the weather)

Is there a rain on the street still?  (exists)

To do the work this way is easy. 

It  is easy to do the work this way. 

It as Subject: use it to refer to a moved content clause

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

Fred Armisen and Barak Obama

It is obvious to all that Fred is a funny comedian.

That Fred is a funny comedian  is obvious to all.
 

It amazed us what he said.

What he said amazed us.
 

It was a particularly funny joke.

There was a particularly funny joke.

It/This Reference: refer back to something

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

arrow pointing back

Apple is going to release a new operating systemIt will merge the laptop OS with the iPad and iPhone OS. 

Apple is going to release a new operating systemThis will be a huge step in merging the laptop OS with the iPad and iPhone OS.  

Cleft Sentences  (word grouping for emphasis)

Cleft Clauses:  shift emphasis to other sentence parts by moving content with it or what

Advanced ESL, Native Speaker

energy!

His energy amazed me

What amazed me was his energy.

His energy was what amazed me.

It amazed me that he had so much energy.

 

 

What– Phrase: shift emphasis to another sentence part  ("fused-relative")

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

comedian

What he said  was funny.  (that + which)

What was funny  was his expression

 

Wh-ever Phrases: refer to an unknown one  (pronouns)

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

gossip 

Whatever you say is confidential.

You can take whomever you want.

Whatever way will be fine.

Whatever! 

Antecedents (referring back to source noun)

Pronoun Antecedent: recognized clear pronoun reference

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

Putting the cart before the horse

By the time they arrived, my family was very hungry.

By the time my family arrived, they were very hungry.

Tracy gave Robin a recipe.  She is a talented cook. Tracy or Robin?

Gender Dispute

Gender & Pronouns: select pronouns that refer to both males and females 

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

photographer

Everyone in my family had their picture taken. (males, females, both?)

Citations to Fowler, Hudddleston and Pullam, Merriam-Webster, Robin Lakoff and others.   

Related Practice

Genitive Nouns:  indicate possession for people or things

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

The class' soccer team

The state's soccer team won several games.
The states' soccer teams won several games.

The goalpost's leg was broken.
The leg of the goal post was broken.

 

Verbs with Indirect Objects: indicate receivers of actions  (dative verbs)

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

A letter

My friend is bringing me a letter.

My friend is bringing a letter to me.

My friend is bringing me it.

Common Mistakes: avoid the "top 20" agreement errors

Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

Jean Muffins 

Fashions come and go. * Everyone have problems balancing comfort with fashion.

 

Also see Nouns.