- Personal pronouns
- Possessive Pronouns
- Demonstrative Pronouns
- Indefinite Pronouns
- Reflexive Pronoun
- Interrogative Pronoun
A pronoun is a part of speech that takes the place of a noun. They include such words as I, we, he, she, thy, me and us.
Pronouns enable you to avoid repeating the same names (nouns), when writing or speaking, which would otherwise make you sound very awkward and wordy. By using pronouns effectively, you can make your writing and speaking flow smoothly.
Pronouns can be classified into 6 types. These are personal, indefinite, demonstrative, interrogative, reflexive and intensive pronouns.
A personal pronoun is a word that is used in place of a noun or another pronoun. They are used to refer to nouns that name persons or things.
- Awkward Kamau put on Kamau’s gum boots. Then Kamau went to the shamba.
- Improved Kamau put on his gum boots. Then he went to the shamba.
In the above example, the personal pronoun his helps the writer avoid repeating the same noun. The pronoun he acts as a bridge to connect the two sentences.
Personal pronouns are further classified in terms of person and gender.
In terms of person, personal pronouns can be divided into three classes.
- First person – I, my, me, we, our and us.
These ones refer to the person(s) speaking.
Example: I always ride my bike to school.
- Second person – you, your, yours
These refer to the person(s) spoken to.
Example: I will call you tomorrow.
- Third person – he, his, him, she, hers, her, it, its, they, their, them.
These ones refer to another person(s) or thing(s) that is being spoken of.
The personal pronoun it usually replaces a noun that stands for a thing or an animal. It is never used in place of a person.
Personal pronouns can also be classified by gender. Gender can either be masculine
(referring to male people), feminine (referring to female people) or neuter (referring to
animals or things).
- Joseph cleaned his car. (His is the third person, masculine gender).
- Isabel said the dress was hers (Hers is the third person, feminine gender).
- The dog wagged its tail. (Its is the third person, neuter gender).
Forms of Personal Pronouns
In English, personal pronouns have three forms: the subject form, the object form and the possessive form.
- She is a painter (subject form)
- He praised her. (Object form)
- It is her best painting. (Possessive form)
A subject pronoun takes the place of a noun as the subject of a sentence. These pronouns are:
- Singular forms – I, you, he, she, it
- Plural forms – we, you, they
Noun Subject Pronoun
The housegirl takes care of the baby She takes care of the baby
The dog guards the house It guards the house
Mark and Francis love swimming They love swimming
Subject pronouns also appear after forms of the linking verbs be.
- The watchman today is he.
- The composers were they.
Object pronouns can replace nouns used after action verbs. These pronouns are:
- Singular – me, you, him, her, it
- Plural – us, you them
- The driver drove him. (direct object)
- The parents thanked us. (direct object)
- The reporters asked him many questions. (indirect object)
In the above examples, the personal pronouns are the direct or indirect objects of the verbs before them.
Object pronouns can also replace nouns after prepositions such as to, for, with, in, at or by. That is, they can be objects of prepositions.
- Gladys waved to them. (object of a preposition)
- The delivery is for me.
- Ben went with them to the theatre.
A possessive pronoun shows ownership.
Example: My pen is black.
There are two kinds of possessive pronouns:
- Those used as adjectives to modify nouns. These possessive pronouns are:
Singular: My, your, his, her, its
Plural: Our, your, their
- My shirt is yellow.
- Your food is on the table.
- His bag is green.
- This is her dress.
- Its fur is soft.
- These are our parents.
- Pay your bills.
- They removed their bats.
The above possessive pronouns always appear before nouns to modify them. Hence, they are called modifiers.
- Those that stand alone and replace nouns in sentences. These possessive nouns are:
Singular: mine yours his, hers, its
Plural: ours yours, their
- The yellow shirt is mine.
- The food on the table is yours.
- The green bag is his.
- This dress is hers.
- Its is the soft fur.
- These crops are ours.
- These bills are yours.
- Those hats are theirs.
Points To Note
- The pronoun I is used as a subject or after forms of the linking verb be.
Subject: I travel by bus
After the linking verb be: Yesterday, the prefects on duty were Victor and I
- The pronoun me is used object after action verbs or words (prepositions) such as to, for, with, in, or at.
Object: Rose met me at the gate.
After prepositions: Rose waited for me at the gate.
You are coming with me.
- When using compound subjects and objects (i.e. subjects and objects comprising of a pronoun and a noun or another pronoun), always name yourself last.
Diana and I visited our grandmother yesterday.
Who appointed Chege and me?
Rose waited for her and me at the gate. or at.
A demonstrative pronoun is used to single or point out one or more persons or things referred to in the sentence.
These pronouns are this, that, these, and those.
This and these point to persons or things that are near.
- This is a gazelle.
- These are the students of Kianjege West Secondary School.
That and those point to persons or things that are farther away.
- That is the city square.
- Those are the lodging rooms.
- This and that are used with singular nouns.
- These and those are used with plural nouns.
An indefinite pronoun is a pronoun that does not refer to a specific person or thing.
In English, there are singular indefinite pronouns, plural indefinite and both singular and plural indefinite pronouns.
Singular Indefinite Pronouns
another anything everybody neither one
anybody each everyone nobody somebody
anymore either everything no one someone.
An indefinite pronoun must agree with its verbs and in number with its possessive
pronoun. The above indefinite pronouns are used with singular verbs. They are also used
with singular possessive pronouns.
Agreement with verbs
Correct: Everyone has heard of Lake Turkana.
Incorrect: Everyone have heard of Lake Turkana.
Correct: Nobody knows what happened to Samuel Wanjiru.
Incorrect: Nobody know what happened to Samuel Wanjiru.
Correct: Everything about the old man remains a mystery.
Incorrect: Everything about the old man remain a mystery.
Agreement in number with possessive pronouns
Correct: Neither believed his/her eyes.
Incorrect: Neither believed their eyes.
Correct: Each strained his/her neck to see.
Incorrect: Each strained their neck to see.
Plural indefinite pronouns
both many few several
These indefinite pronouns use plural verbs and possessive pronouns.
Correct: Few know about Lake Olbolsat.
Incorrect: Few knows about Lake Obolsat.
Correct: Both stand by what they believe.
Incorrect: Both stands by what they believe.
Plural possessive pronouns
Correct: Several reported their findings.
Incorrect: Several reported his/her findings.
Both singular and plural indefinite pronouns
all some any none
These indefinite pronouns may be singular or plural, depending on their meaning in the
All of my story is true – singular
All of the guests are here – plural
None of the lake is foggy – singular
None of the photos are spoiled – plural.
Reflexive and intensive pronouns end in -self or -selves. These are myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, and themselves.
A reflexive pronoun refers to an action performed by the subject of the sentence. The meaning of the sentence is incomplete without the reflexive pronoun.
- Monicah bought herself a new dress. (The meaning of the sentence is incomplete without the reflexive pronoun because we do not know for whom Monicah bought the dress).
An interrogative pronoun is used to ask a question. These pronouns are who, whose, whom, which and what.
Who is the mayor of this town?
Whose is the red car?
Which is her blouse?
What did she ask you?
Whom should I trust with my secret?
Using Who, Whom, and Whose
Who, whom, and whose are often used to ask questions. Hence, they are interrogative pronouns.
WHO is the subject form. It is used as the subject of a verb.
Who taught you how to play the guitar? (Who is the subject of the verb taught.)
WHOM is the object form. It is used as the direct object of a verb or as the object of a preposition.
Whom did you meet? (Whom is the object of the verb did meet).
For whom is this trophy? (whom is the object of the preposition for).
WHOSE is the possessive form. It can be used :
- To modify a noun
Whose is umbrella is this? (whose modifies the noun umbrella)
- Alone as the subject or object of a verb
Whose are those water melons? (whose is the subject of the verb are)
Whose did you admire? (whose is the object of the verb did admire)
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