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8 Types of Pronouns you need to know (with examples)

8 Types of Pronouns you need to know (with examples)

When we think of pronouns, we often think of words like he, she, we, and them. No surprise there, as personal pronouns are usually one of the first types of pronoun we learn in school. We see them in children’s books, hear about them in class, and use them in our daily conversations.

However, personal pronouns are far from the only types of pronouns your child will ever meet on their path towards English Mastery! In this article, we’ll taking a look at the common types of pronouns they need to know.

What are pronouns

Let’s begin with the basic question: What’s a pronoun?

A pronoun is a word used to replace nouns in sentences. It prevents repetition and enhances clarity in our writing or conversations. Pronouns can refer to people, places, things, or concepts previously mentioned or understood from context.

For example, you might say, ‘I have a cat. He’s mischievous and always up to no good.’ Remember, a pronoun only works when you’ve mentioned the noun (cat), also known as the antecedent. And because the readers already know that you’re referring to your cat, the pronoun (he) can be used to avoid repetition.

However, pronouns do a lot more than just helping us avoid repetitive and awkward-sounding sentences. They provide context, clarify the point of the message, and change the way we perceive the relationships between the different elements of a sentence.

Let's take a look at some of the most common pronouns around.

Personal Pronouns

As mentioned earlier, personal pronouns are probably the pronoun most of us are most familiar with. Depending on which of the three ‘persons’ a personal pronoun refers to, it’s form changes accordingly.

The first person refers to the person speaking, the second person refers to the person or thing being spoken to, and the third person refers to the person or thing being talked about. Here are some examples:

First Person
Eg. I enjoy playing the guitar in my free time.
Eg. We invited Jason to the birthday party.

Second Person
Eg. You should try the chocolate cake; it's delicious.
Eg. Are you joining us for the movie tonight?

Third Person
Eg. He loves to hike in the mountains.
Eg. They won the championship last year.

Relative Pronouns

Relative pronouns are a type of pronoun used to introduce relative clauses, which provide additional information about a noun or noun phrase in a sentence. Relative clauses are used to give more details about a person, thing, or idea that has already been mentioned or is understood from the context. Here is a list of relative pronouns in examples:

Eg. The woman who is standing over there is my neighbor
Eg. The person whom I spoke to on the phone was very helpful
Eg. The book whose cover is torn belongs to Sarah
Eg. The car, which is red, belongs to my brother
Eg. The movie that we watched last night was great

Who and whom refer to people, while which and that refer to things or animals. While whose is commonly used to to refer to people, it can also refer to objects or animals as well.

Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns are pronouns that indicate ownership or possession of something. They replace nouns and show who something belongs to. 

Eg. I like their new house.
Eg. That's my car parked over there.
Eg. Is this your backpack?
Eg. His dog is very friendly.
Eg. Our family is going on vacation.
Eg. This is her new pencil case.

In addition, each possessive pronoun also has an independent possessive form, which is typically used with nouns to indicate possession. When using an independent possessive pronoun, you drop the noun that the pronoun is referring to.

Eg. He had left his racket at home, so I lent him mine.
Eg. I had no idea whose ticket had won the lucky draw, but then my parents told me theirs had.

Interrogative Pronouns

Interrogative pronouns are pronouns used to ask questions. You can use them to get information about people, things, or ideas. The five main interrogative pronouns are: who, whose, whom, what, and which.

Eg. Who is coming to the party?
Eg. Whom did you invite to the event?
Eg. Whose idea was it?
Eg. What is the capital of France?
Eg. Which movie did you watch last night?

Demonstrative pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are pronouns that are used to replace specific nouns in a sentence and point out specific people, things, or ideas. They indicate whether the noun they are replacing is near or far (physically or metaphorically) in relation to the speaker and listener. In English, there are four main demonstrative pronouns: this, these, that, and those.

Eg. This is the new smartphone I just bought.

This refers to the specific smartphone that is close to the speaker.

Eg. I need to return these library books by the end of the week.

These refers to the plural collection of library books close to the speaker.

Eg. Have you heard about that new museum downtown?

That points to the singular noun ‘museum’ that is farther away from the speaker.

Eg. I can't believe those delicious pastries are all sold out.

Those refers to the plural pastries that are farther away from the speaker.

Reflexive pronouns

Reflexive pronouns are pronouns used when the subject and object of a sentence are the same person or thing. They are used to reflect the action of the verb back onto the subject, emphasising that the subject performs the action on itself. In English, reflexive pronouns always end in "-self" (singular) or "-selves" (plural). Here are the reflexive pronouns in English:

Eg. I can fix the computer issue myself.
Eg. He taught himself how to play the guitar.
Eg. She congratulated herself on completing the marathon.
Eg. The cat groomed itself meticulously.
Eg. We decided to paint the room ourselves.
Eg. You can choose the toppings for your pizzas yourselves.
Eg. They entertained themselves with board games during the power outage.

Intensive Pronouns

Intensive pronouns are pronouns that emphasise a preceding noun or pronoun within the same sentence. While they are identical in form to reflexive pronouns, intensive pronouns are used for emphasis rather than to show the action being reflected back onto the subject.

Eg. I repaired the house.
Eg. I repaired the roof myself.

Can you sense the pride oozing out of the second example? The speaker managed to repair a broken roof all by himself. Similarly, you can use intensive pronouns in your writing to convey strong emotions.

Here are a few more examples:

Eg. I painted the entire room myself to make sure it was perfect.
Eg. You must believe in yourself to succeed in life.
Eg. He fixed the car himself without any help.

Eg. She designed the website herself and is proud of the result.
Eg. We completed the project ourselves to ensure quality.
Eg. The kids organised the game themselves and had a great time.

Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns are a type of pronoun used to refer to unspecified persons or things. They can be either singular, plural, or both.

Singular Indefinite Pronouns
Eg. Somebody left their umbrella in the office.
Eg. Anybody can participate in the contest.
Eg. Nobody likes to wait in long lines.

Plural Indefinite Pronouns
Eg. Some of the cookies were eaten.
Eg. Many have expressed their concerns.
Eg. Few arrived on time.

Singular or Plural Indefinite Pronouns
Eg. All are welcome to attend.
Eg. None of the apples were ripe.
Eg. Both are responsible for the mistake.
Eg. Several students passed the exam.

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