Pronoun

word or form that substitutes for a noun or noun phrase

A pronoun is traditionally a part of speech in grammar, but many modern linguists call it a type of noun.[1] In English, pronouns are words such as me, she, his, them, herself, each other, it, what.

Pronouns are often used to take the place of a noun, to avoid repeating the noun. For example, instead of saying

  • Tom has a new dog. Tom has named the dog. Max and Tom lets the dog sleep by Tom's bed.

it is easier to say

  • Tom has a new dog. He has named him Max and he lets him sleep by his bed.

When a pronoun replaces a noun, the noun is called the antecedent. For example, in the sentence: The dog that was walking down the street, the relative pronoun is the word that referring back to the antecedent, the word 'dog'. In the sentence The spy who loved me, the relative pronoun is the word 'who' and its antecedent is the word 'spy'.[2]

Differences and similarities to nounsEdit

Pronouns are different from common nouns because pronouns normally do not come after articles or other determiners. For example, people do not say "the it". Pronouns rarely come after adjectives. They are also different because many of them change depending on how they are used. For example, "we" is a 'subject' in grammar, but the word changes to us when used as an object.

Pronouns are the same as nouns because they both change for number (singular & plural), case (subject, object, possessive, etc.), and gender (male, female, animate, inanimate, etc.) Nouns and pronouns can be used in almost all the same places in sentences, and they name the same kinds of things: people, objects, etc. Even though they can not normally come after determiners, or adjectives, neither can proper nouns.

Kinds of pronounsEdit

There are different kinds of pronouns: personal, reciprocal, interrogative, and relative.

Kinds of English pronouns
i personal you love them Your sister loves herself
ii reciprocal we like each other we are looking at one another
iii interrogative who is there? what happened?
iv relative the person who saw it the time which you told me

Personal pronouns in EnglishEdit

This table shows all the personal pronouns in English that are commonly used today.

Personal pronouns in English
Subject Object Possessive Reflexive
Singular First I me my, mine myself
Second you you your, yours yourself
Third Gender Neutral they them their, theirs themself
Feminine she her her, hers herself
Masculine he him his himself
Neuter it it its itself
Plural First we us our, ours ourselves
Second you you your, yours yourselves
Third Feminine they them their, theirs themselves
Masculine
Neuter

A subject pronoun can replace a noun that is the subject of a sentence. Refer to the table above; the subject pronouns are: I, You, He, She, It, We, They. An object pronoun can replace a noun that is the object of a sentence. A possessive pronoun shows who or what a noun belongs to.

Another type of personal pronoun is called the 'reflexive pronoun'. Reflexive pronouns are the words ending in '-self' or '-selves', such as: myself, itself, themselves. One of the primary functions of reflexive pronouns is for situations in which a single agent is both the doer of the action and the receiver of the action. For example, if I cut my finger, we don't typically say "I cut me." in English; we use the reflexive pronoun and say "I cut myself." [3]

"It" and its other forms "its", and "itself" only refer to objects, not people. "They" and its other forms "them", "their", and "theirs" can be used as a singular, for a person whose gender is unknown at the time, or for a person who does not identify with either the "she/her" or "he/him" pronouns. For example: "The patient will be told how much they will be required to pay." [4]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Huddleston R. & Pullum G.K. 2002. The Cambridge Grammar of the English language. Cambridge University Press.
  2. "Pronouns and Antecedents". Writing Commons. Retrieved 2022-06-11.
  3. "English Pronouns | Ginseng English | Learn English". Ginseng English. Retrieved 2022-06-11.
  4. "Pronouns.org Resources on Personal Pronouns". Pronouns.org Resources on Personal Pronouns. Retrieved 2022-06-11.