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Overview of Pronouns

Pronouns replace nouns. We use pronouns so we do not have to repeat the same noun over and over again. Look at this example.
  • Bill is a doctor. Bill has a wife and 3 children. Bill's wife is beautiful and smart. Bill's children are cute. Bill likes to golf.
As you can see, repeating "Bill" many times does not look or sound very nice. We can replace "Bill" with a pronoun.
  • Bill is a doctor. He has a wife and 3 children. Bill's wife is beautiful and smart. His children are cute. He likes golf.
Be careful: Make sure the listener knows the subject or object is before you start using pronouns.

A) He is nice.
B) Who are you talking about?

Here is a better example.
A) Mary is nice.
B) How do you know her?
A) She used to work at my company.

There are different kinds of pronouns. We briefly cover each of them in this lesson. We will study them in more detail in the upcoming lessons.

1. Subject Pronouns

These are used at the beginning of a sentence and they replace the subject of a sentence. We always use the subject pronouns "I" and "You" in English.

No PronounSubject Pronoun
XI am tall.
XYou love to go fishing.
Jane and I are friends.We are friends.
Nick is a doctor.He is a doctor.
Mary is cool.She is cool.
The car is red.It is red.
The students are noisy.They are noisy.
The cookies are good.They are good.

2. Object Pronouns

These pronouns replace nouns that are used as the object of a sentence. We always use "me" and "you" as objects. We do not use our name or the name of the person "you".

No PronounObject Pronoun
XJon hit me.
XThe teacher will help you.
I know Jon.I know him.
The police officer arrested Mary.The police officer arrested her.
Mark ate the sandwich.Mark ate it.
The teacher gave the students a test.The teacher gave them a test.
Henry brought cookies here.Henry brought them here.

3. Possessive Adjectives (Possessive Determiners)

These are called possessive adjectives, but it makes more sense to talk about them in the pronoun section. They come before a noun and show who or what the noun belongs to or who or what the noun is connected to.

No PronounPossessive Adjective
XThat is my book.
XMary is your friend.
It is Mark's hat.It is his hat.
This is Tina's house.This is her house.
The lion's claws are sharp.Its claws are sharp.
It is the children's ball.It is their ball.

It is very common to start a sentence with a possessive adjective.
  • My house is small.
  • His hair is black.
  • Her dress is pretty.
  • Their mother is kind.
4. Possessive Pronoun

We use possessive pronouns to replace a "possessive adjective + noun".

Possessive Adj./Noun Possessive Pronoun
That is my book.That is mine.
I think this is your hat.I think this is yours.
This house is his house.This house is his.
That is Mary's car.That is hers.
This food is the dog's food.This is its food.
These are the students' bags.These are theirs.

Possessive Pronouns are usually used at the end of a sentence, but it is possible to use them at the beginning.

A) My apartment is on the 5th floor.
B) Mine is on the 3rd floor. (Mine = My apartment)

A) Her hair is black.
B) His is blonde. (His = His hair)

5. Reflexive Pronouns

We use reflexive pronouns when the subject and object of the sentence are the same.
  • I accidentally hit myself.
  • Why do you talk to yourself?
  • We take care of ourselves.
  • He pinched himself.
  • She threw water on herself.
  • It will fix itself.
  • They asked themselves that question.
We can also use reflexive pronouns to emphasize.
  • I will do it.
  • I will do it myself.

  • She did it.
  • She did it by herself.
6. Reciprocal Pronouns

"Each other" and "one another" are called reciprocal pronouns. For example, I do for you and you do for me.
  • I will help you and you will help me.
    (=We will help each other.)

  • She gave me a present and he gave her a present.
    (=They gave each other presents.)

  • All the people hugged all the other people.
    (=All the people hugged one another/each other.)
7. Indefinite Pronouns

These pronouns refer to a non-specific person or thing. We use them when we do not know the name of a person or thing or when the name of a person or thing is not important.

anyone / anybodysomebody / someonenobody / no oneeverybody / everyone
anythingsomethingnothingeverything
anywheresomewherenowhereeverywhere
anytimesometimeXevery time

Note: "Every time" is two words.

We will cover all of these topics in more detail in the following free English lessons. Pronouns are very important and are used a lot in English. Make sure that you understand them well and know how to use them naturally when writing or speaking English.

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