What is a Pronoun?
The word which is used for a noun is called pronoun. That is to say, a word that refers back to a noun or is used instead of a noun is called a pronoun.
Since a pronoun is used instead of a noun, its uses and functions in the sentences are the same as that of the noun. Just as nouns are used as singular and plural, pronouns can also be used as singular and plural.
Why is a pronoun important to learn?
If you don’t learn to use pronouns, you just have to write sentences using nouns. Using the same noun over and over again in one sentence does not sound good, and English grammar does not allow it. Therefore, it is necessary to know what kind of pronoun will be used instead of a noun to avoid repeated use of any noun, including a person, object, place or whatsoever.
What are the uses of a pronoun?
Pronouns are used in the sentences mainly in three sections:
- The subject of a sentence
- The object of a transitive verb
- The object of a preposition or an infinitive
1. The subject of a sentence:
- He knows how to do it. [Here the pronoun ‘He’ has been used as a subject.]
- They are students. [Here the pronoun ‘They’ has been used as a subject.]
- You are a happy boy. [Here the pronoun ‘You’ has been used as a subject.]
2. The object of a sentence:
- Michel loves it. [Here the pronoun ‘it’ has been used as an object.]
- William found him on the street. [Here the pronoun ‘him’ has been used as an object.]
- Michel sent me an email. [Here the pronoun ‘me’ has been used as an object.]
3. The object of a preposition or an infinitive:
- I have bought this book for you.
- Do you have a pen with you?
- I have come here to meet you.
- I wanted to see him for months.
Types of Pronoun:
Pronouns can mainly be classified into eight different heads. They are:
- Personal Pronoun
- Possessive Pronoun
- Reflexive Pronoun
- Interrogative Pronoun
- Relative Pronoun
- Reciprocal Pronoun
- Indefinite Pronoun
- Demonstrative Pronoun
1. – Personal pronoun:
Personal means a person related, and Pronoun means the word that sits for the noun. If we know what we mean by person, then we will be able to know what a personal pronoun is. By the word ‘person’ we mean, I, We, You (singular), You (plural), He, She, They, etc. So, if someone wants to know what a Personal Pronoun is, then it has to be said that a Pronoun which is used for a person in the sentence is called Personal Pronoun. Personal pronouns (mainly, it and they) can also be used for animals, things and places.
There are three types of this person in English Grammar, they are:
- First Person. The pronouns of this category are: ‘I’, ‘we’, ‘me’, and ‘us’.
- Second Person. The pronoun of this category is: ‘You’.
- Third Person. The pronouns of this category are: ‘He’, ‘she’, ‘they’, ‘it’, somebody, nobody, etc.
Uses of personal pronouns:
The persons which are known as personal pronouns are used in two ways.
- One, as a subject a verb
- Two, as an object of a verb or an object a preposition.
The Pronoun which is used as the subject of the verb of a sentence or phrase is called the subject pronoun. The forms that we use as the subject of a sentence are:
- First Person: I and We
- Second person: You
- Third Person: Apart from those above three, all other personal pronouns functioning as a subject such as: he, she, it, they, somebody, nobody, anybody, etc. are third person.
- I like your shirt. (‘I’ is first person, it has been used as the subject of the verb ‘like’.)
- You are happy. (‘You’ is second person, it has been used as the subject of the verb ‘are’.)
- He is my brother. (‘He’ is third person, it has been used as the subject of the verb ‘is’.)
- It is my book. (‘It’ is third person, it has been used as the subject of the verb ‘is’.)
- She is on holiday. (‘She’ is third person, it has been used as the subject of the verb ‘is’.)
- We live in Dhaka. (‘We’ is first person plural number, it has been used as the subject of the verb ‘live’.)
- They come from London. (‘They’ is third person plural number, it has been used as the subject of the verb ‘come’.)
A pronoun that is used as an object of a verb or preposition of a sentence or phrase is called the Object Person. The forms that we use as the object of a sentence are:
- First Person: Me and Us
- Second person: You
- Third Person: Apart from those above three, all other personal pronouns functioning as an object such as: him, her, it, them, somebody, nobody, anybody, etc. are third person.
All these also can be used as an object of a verb or of a preposition of a sentence.
- Can you help me, please? (‘me’ is first person. It has been used as the object of a verb ‘help’ verb-এর object).
- I can see you. (‘you’ is second person. It has been used as the object of a verb ‘see’ verb).
- She doesn’t like him. (‘him’ is third person. It has been used as the object of a verb ‘like’ verb-এর object).
- I saw her in town today. (‘her’ is third person. It has been used as the object of the verb ‘saw’).
- I saw them in town yesterday, but they didn’t see me. (‘them’ is third person plural number. It has been used as the object of the verb ‘saw’. Again, ‘me’ is the first person, and it has been used as the object of the verb ‘see’.)
- They do not like me. (‘me’ is first person. It has been used as the object of a verb ‘like’.)
- At last, I found it. (‘it’ is third person singular number. It has been used as the object of the verb ‘found’.).
- Rahim talked to us. (‘us’ is first person plural number. It has been used as the object of the preposition ‘to’.)
- Fahim spent the day with me. (‘me’ is first person singular number. It has been used as the object of the preposition ‘with’.)
- I bought a ticket for her. (‘her’ is third person singular number. It has been used as the object of the preposition ‘for.)
Subject person and Object person are shown through the chart below:
|Subject person||Object person|
Personal pronouns are mainly used for people. But there are three personal pronouns (it, they, and them) which we use to mean ‘animals’, ‘things’, and ‘places’. Using Personal Pronoun in the sentence three specific pieces of information are also provided. They are:
- The person: who is speaking = who is the speaker?
- The number: Is the pronoun singular or plural?
- Gender: Is the pronoun masculine, feminine, or neuter?
- I am very busy today. [The word ‘I’ is the speaker, and it is in the first person, singular number.]
- You are very busy these days. [The word ‘You’ is the speaker, and it is in the second person singular/plural number.]
- She is very interested in learning English. [The word ‘She’ is the speaker, and it is in the third person plural number, The gender is feminine.]
- They are excited about their win in the cricket match. [The word ‘They’ is the speaker and it is in the third person plural number.]
2. – Possessive Pronoun:
A word that is used to denote ownership of something is called a Possessive Pronoun.
What words are possessive pronouns?
There are mainly six words in English that are used as possessive pronouns. They are:
- ours, and
All these words denote my/your/his/her/our/their + noun.
- This laptop is mine. (my + noun = my laptop)
- This pen is yours. (your + noun = your pen)
- This computer is his/hers. (his/her + noun = his/hers computer)
- That house is ours. (our + noun = our house)
- That car is theirs. (their + noun = their car)
Remember: Never use an apostrophe (‘) before ‘s’ in writing possessive pronouns although the possessive nouns are formed using apostrophes.
- Is that house yours/hers/ours/theirs?
- (NOT Is that house
- This is Michel’s. Where is yours?
Use of a possessive pronoun:
Possessive pronouns are used in place of a full noun phrase in order to avoid repetition.
- Is that Michel’s book? No, it’s mine. (NOT: my book)
- Whose laptop is this? Is it Michel’s? No, it is hers. (NOT: her computer.)
- His job is to take care of the children. Mine is teaching them. (NOT: my job is teaching them.)
- I saw Michel carrying a bag. I guess that bag is his. (NOT: his bag)
- He did not have his pen to write, so Michel lent him his. (NOT: his pen)
- Your shirt is not as beautiful as mine. (NOT: his shirt)
Some more examples of Possessive Pronouns:
- These books are mine. Where is yours?
- The red pens are yours. Where are theirs?
- Is this your book? No, it is hers.
- Here is my school bag. Where is yours?
- He passed the test. What about yours?
- Can I borrow your grammar book for a day? I lost mine.
- Why are you using my mobile phone? Where is yours?
- I can’t find my grammar book. Can I take hers?
Remember, possessive pronouns don’t only sit for nouns, they also show possession over a person, a place, or a thing. Added to this, always remember, if a word is not used for a noun, then that word, whatever it is, is not a pronoun. You have to understand this logic to understand a pronoun of any kind. Otherwise, it can be difficult to understand different types of pronouns.
3. – Reflexive pronoun:
A reflexive pronoun is a pronoun that has -self/selves attached to it and that -self/selves pronoun refers to the previous noun used in the sentence.
A reflexive pronoun is not used without a personal pronoun or a noun equivalent. First, a personal pronoun will be used and then the reflexive pronoun will reflex the personal pronoun used before.
- I can write it myself. [The word ‘myself’ reflexes the personal pronoun ‘I’.
- They are trying to learn English themselves. [The reflexive pronoun ‘themselves’ reflexes the personal pronoun ‘they’.]
- You can easily do it yourself. [The reflexive pronoun ‘yourself’ reflexes the personal pronoun ‘you’.]
- I guess you all have enjoyed yourselves at the new year celebration. [The reflexive pronoun ‘yourselves’ reflexes the personal pronoun ‘you’.]
- He/my father himself told us this. [The reflexive pronoun ‘himself ‘ reflexes the personal pronoun ‘he/my father’.]
- She/Our madam thought herself an exceptional educator. [The reflexive pronoun ‘herself ‘ reflexes the personal pronoun ‘she/our madam’.]
- They/Children can’t do anything themselves. [The reflexive pronoun ‘themselves ‘ reflexes the personal pronoun ‘they/children’.]
- One can make oneself successful in life through proper education. [The reflexive pronoun ‘oneself ‘ reflexes the personal pronoun ‘one’.]
Where to use reflexive pronouns?
As an object of a verb:
A reflexive pronoun can be used as an object of a verb.
- Rahim knows himself well. – রহিম নিজেকে ভাল চেনে। [এখানে ‘himself’ হচ্ছে ’know’ Verb-এর object এবং ’himself ‘ শব্দটি ’Rahim’-কে নিদের্শ করছে]।
- She made herself a cup of tea and sat down on the chair – সে নিজের জন্য এক কাপ চা বানিয়ে চেয়ারে বসল।
- You know yourself better than anyone else. – তুমি নিজেকে অন্য কারও চেয়ে ভাল জান।
After a preposition:
After a preposition, we can use reflexive pronouns.
- I bought a new shirt for myself.
- They bought some items for themselves.
By + reflexive pronoun:
We often use the by + reflexive pronoun to mean ‘alone’ or ‘something is done without help’.
- I completed the work by myself. – He did the work alone.
- The students wrote this essay by themselves.
- I went there by myself.
To emphasis the subject:
Reflexive Pronouns are used to emphasize the subject of a sentence.
- I myself completed the work.
- He himself told me this.
4. – Interrogative Pronoun:
Interrogative means ‘questioning’ and Pronoun means the word ‘substitute’ for the Noun or ‘the word used for the Noun’. So, an interrogative pronoun is a pronoun that is used to ask a question to find out a noun that we do not know about.
A total of five interrogative pronouns. They are:
- Whom or who
To know the person, we use the three: who (subject), whom (Object) and, Whose (possessive).
To know the material (thing) we use the two: what, and which.
Use of ‘who’:
‘Who’ is used to know the subject of a verb of a sentence.
- Who is that man? Or, Who is he? In this sentence, ‘who’ has been used to know the stranger or unknown person. Suppose, the name of the stranger is ‘Willam’. Then, the answer will come: He is Willam. Thus, by asking with the word ‘who’ we came to know the name of the person and the subject of the sentence.
- ‘Who gave you this flower?’ In this sentence, ‘who‘ has been used to know the subject of the sentence. Suppose, the name of the person who gave him that flower is ‘Mark’. Then, the answer will come: Mark gave me this flower. Thus, by asking with the word ‘who’ we came to know the name of the person and the subject of the sentence. This is how, we get to know the subject of a sentence using ‘who’ to get the answer in the form of a noun.
Use of ‘whom’:
‘Whom’ is used to know the object of a verb of a sentence.
‘Whom’ as an interrogative pronoun means ‘who’ or ‘whom’. It is used to know the object of a verb.
- Whom did you tell this story? Or, Who did you tell this story? Here, ‘Whom’ or ‘who’ has been used to know an unknown person. Suppose, the person whom someone told that is ‘Willam’. Then the answer will be: I told Willam this story. Here, we came to know that someone told William this story. This is how, to find out the object in the form of a noun, we use Interrogative Pronoun ‘whom’.
- Whom were you talking to yesterday? Or, Who were you talking to yesterday? Here, ‘Whom’ or ‘who’ has been used to know an unknown person, who is the object of the verb of this sentence.
Note: In modern English, instead of ‘whom’, ‘who’ is often used to know the object of the verb in the form of a noun.
Uses of Whose:
Whose is used to find out who owns something. That is, we use ‘whose’ to know who owns an object or thing.
- Someone showed me a book and asked: Whose is this book? Suppose, the book belongs to Vanessa. Then in reply, we will say: Vanessa’s book.
- I see a dictionary on the table. Whose is it?
Note: Many writers rewrite these sentences in this way. ‘Whose + noun’ + other words. For example: ‘Whose pencils are these?’ If a sentence is written this way, the word ‘Whose’ will no longer be the actual Interrogative Pronoun, ‘whose’ will then be an Interrogative Adjective.
Use of What:
By Interrogative Pronoun ‘what’ we ask about specific information from the general range. This pronoun is used to ask a variety of other questions besides the person.
To know about work:
Using ‘what’, one can ask to know what is going on.
- What are you doing? If he plays, he will say: I am playing. And if he watches a TV program, he will say: I am watching a TV program.
To know about time:
You can ask about time by using ‘what’.
- What is the time by your watch? In this case, if the time by my watch is eleven o’clock, I will say, ‘It is now eleven o’clock by my watch.
To know about the profession:
Using ‘what’ we often try to know the profession of a person.
- What is your father? If his father is a professor at a university, he will say: My father is a professor at a university.
To know about different things and conditions:
‘What’ is used to know about things and conditions and situations of anything.
- What is your problem?
- What is that?
- What were your marks in SSC?
- What created this problem?
To ask the indirect questions:
‘What’ can also be used to ask an indirect question.
- Tell me what he wants from me.
- I wanted to know what makes him happy.
- They asked what I was doing at the hospital.
Use of Which:
’Which’ is used to indicate something. It can be used for both persons and things and generally indicates to one out of a group
- Which do you prefer, tea or coffee?
- Which of these do you want?
- Which is better?
- Which of these bags is yours?
- Which boy stood first in the test?
5. – Relative Pronoun:
A pronoun that starts a clause after or next to a noun and creates a relation with that noun is called a relative pronoun.
There are two conditions for a word to be a relative pronoun. They are:
- Creating a relationship with a noun by sitting after a noun
- Creating a clause, which is known as a relative clause or adjective clause
There are mainly five words in English that are used as relative pronouns. They are:
- Whose, and
Use of ‘who’:
First, let us know the characteristics of ‘who’ as a relative pronoun.
- ‘Who’ will be used in the clause as a subject word.
- ‘Who’ can mean both singular and plural.
- ‘Who’ will mean the person or persons before the word ‘who’.
These three conditions are very useful to judge if that word is a relative pronoun or an interrogative pronoun. That is to say, to understand the difference between a relative pronoun and an interrogative pronoun one should judge with the three conditions mentioned above.
- I know the man who came here the day before yesterday. [In this sentence, ‘who’ has been used as the subject word of the clause ‘ ‘who came here the day before yesterday.’ Besides, the word ‘who’ is singular and means or refers back ‘the man’.
- These are the students who successfully passed the tests.
- Do you know the people who created this problem for this old man?
Use of ‘whom’:
First, let us know the characteristics of ‘whom’ as a relative pronoun.
- ‘Whom’ will be used as the object form of ‘who’.
- ‘Whom’ can mean both singular and plural.
- ‘Whom’ will mean the person or persons before the word ‘whom’.
- This is the man whom I saw the day before yesterday.
- These are the students whom I taught to successfully pass the tests.
- Do you know the people whom we gave our help for survival?
6. – Reciprocal Pronoun:
Reciprocal means ‘given or done in return, expressing mutual action’. So, a pronoun that describes the interaction between two or more people in a task or action of some type is called a Reciprocal Pronoun.
There are only two reciprocal pronouns. They are:
- Each other
- One another
If any activity is done between two persons, then ‘each other’ has to be used. Let’s try to understand the matter more easily. Let us think: someone saw me, and I saw him again. So the work of seeing here has been done by two people or between two people. So we can say: we saw each other. This ‘each other’ is the Reciprocal Pronoun.
This is actually ‘He saw me, and I saw him’. But nobody will say like this or write like this. What is said or written is:
We saw each other.
Some more examples of the uses of each other:
- Mark and William congratulated each other for their success in the test.
- They gave each other gifts at Christmas.
- Mark and Vanessa love each other very much.
- In the dark, they could not see each other.
If an activity is performed between more than two persons, then we use ‘one another. Let’s try to understand the matter more easily. I think there are four brothers and two sisters in a house. These four fight and quarrel with each other. In that case, we tell them: Brothers and sisters should not fight with one another.
Just look at another example: Let us think a person with a complex disease went to the doctor for treatment. The doctor could not diagnose the patient despite many attempts. In such a situation, he planned to consult with the doctors he knew about the patient’s disease. In this case, we might say: Doctors often consult with other physicians when they cannot be sure of a patient’s difficult diagnosis. We can say this sentence more beautifully using a reciprocal pronoun like this:
Doctors often consult with one another when they are making a difficult diagnosis.
Some more examples of the uses of each other:
- There are some students who were blaming one another for being late in the class.
- The cricket team players were encouraging one another for winning the match.
- The teachers and students congratulated one another for their glorious results in the exam.
The possessive form of reciprocal pronoun:
When we want to use the reciprocal pronoun as possessive case or possessive form, we have to consider it as singular and add -‘s at the end.
- We want to get each other’s help to get success in this business.
- The husband and wife whispered in each other’s ears.
Difference between ‘each other’ and ‘one another’:
The difference between ‘each other’ and ‘one another’ is not seen in Modern Grammar, especially in spoken English. That is to say, that there is no error in spoken English using ‘one another’ in place of ‘each other’ and ‘each other in place of ‘one another. However, in standard English, ‘each other’ should be used for two persons and ‘one another’ for more than two persons. Another piece of information is that ‘one another’ is slightly more formal than ‘each other.’ That is why ‘each other’ is more common when someone uses reciprocal pronouns.
- Mark and John helped each other / one another.
- Petra and I have known each other / one another for years.
Final points to remember:
- If you’re talking about two things, use each other. If you’re talking about more than two things, use one another.
- If you want to write in the possessive form, write each other’s and not each others’ or write one another’s and not one anothers’.
7. – Indefinite pronoun:
Indefinite Pronoun is a pronoun that is used to refer to an indefinite person or object or another noun without referring to a specific person or object or another noun. This means that an indefinite pronoun does not refer to any particular person, object, or other nouns. It is ‘vague’ and ‘not specific’.
Indefinite Pronouns can be used in both Singular and Plural. If a person, object, or any other noun is one, it will be singular and if it is more than one, it will be plural.
There are also some indefinite Pronouns, which can be used both Singular and Plural. Singular indefinite pronoun always takes a singular verb and plural Indefinite pronoun always takes a plural verb.
Below is a list of how an indefinite pronoun can be used in a sentence:
|Singular||Plural||Singular or Plural|
|anybody, everybody, nobody, somebody||few||any|
|anyone, someone, Everyone||many||most|
|anything, nothing, something, everything||several||none|
|each, other, one, no one, either, neither,||others||some|
Among these pronouns which have ‘— body’ or ‘–one’ at the end of the pronouns, are used for the persons. And the pronouns which have ‘–thing’ at the end, have been used for the things or objects. And the remaining pronouns which do not have ‘— body’ or ‘–one’ at the end, can be used for persons, objects, or any other noun according to our need.
Now let us see how these pronouns are used in the sentences:
- This chocolate is really delicious. Can I have another?
- I am not happy to get one banana. I need another.
- Anybody can learn English.
- Is there anybody who can help me?
- Everybody enjoyed the cricket match.
- Everybody wants to earn money to support his family.
- Nobody has been able to solve this problem.
- Nobody is fully happy in this universe.
- Somebody will come forward to help me.
- Somebody told me this.
- Anyone can come to help him.
- Have you seen anyone there?
- Someone will come and solve your problem.
- I need someone to carry this load.
- Everyone can come here to learn English.
- Our English teacher told everyone to read attentively.
- He has not seen anything in the room.
- Do you need anything for doing this?
- They wanted nothing for doing this job for me.
- William did nothing for his family.
- Something happened yesterday.
- Everything was clear to them.
- Each has his own thoughts and proposals.
- One was tall and the other was short in height.
- No one can get success without education.
- What will you have, tea or coffee? Either will be good for me.
- I love Mark and William, but neither loves me.
- Both were happy to find me among them.
- Few understood the lesson that I taught them.
- Many have come to see what happened.
- Several came into my room to discuss their problem.
- Never depend on others. Try to solve your problem yourself.
- All expect to be happy in their life.
- Some people came forward and helped me but most were quite indifferent to my problem. (most people)
- His mother had two brothers. My father had none. (My father didn’t have any brothers.)
- If you need money, I’ll lend you some.
8. – Demonstrative Pronoun:
A pronoun that sits or is used instead of a noun as an indicator of a particular person or thing is called a Demonstrative Pronoun.
This Demonstrative Pronoun can be singular or plural. Now let’s see which words are used as Demonstrative Pronoun in sentences. In addition to knowing this Pronoun, you need to know about Demonstrative Adjective. Otherwise, these two separate issues may seem to be in conflict with each other.
What words are Demonstrative Pronouns?
The words that are used in the sentence as Demonstrative Pronouns are:
This — These; That —-Those.
- This is my shirt.
- These are mangoes.
- That is his pen.
- Those are their favorite songs.
- This was my mother’s necklace. – [The word ‘This’ is used to refer to the mother’s necklace, i.e. ‘this’ has been used instead of ‘mother’s necklace’].
- These are far bigger than those. – The word ‘These’ refers to the nouns which are bigger than the other nouns].
- These are my favorite shirts. – [This ‘These’ word refers to favorite shirts, i.e. ‘these‘ have been used instead of ‘favorite shirts’].
- This is my sister. – [The word ‘This’ word means sister, i.e. ‘This’ has been used instead of ‘my sister’].
One important point to remember regarding demonstrative pronouns and that is no noun word should be used after a demonstrative pronoun. If a noun word is found or used after a pronoun, then it will no longer be a pronoun, it will become an adjective.
- This laptop is mine. [In this sentence, the word ‘This’ has not been used as a demonstrative pronoun. ‘This’ has been used as a demonstrative adjective.]
- That building is very big and beautiful. [In this sentence, the word ‘That’ has not been used as a demonstrative pronoun. ‘That’ has been used as a demonstrative adjective.]
But if it were said:
‘This is my laptop‘, or’ That is a very big and beautiful building’, then the words ‘this’ and ‘that’ of the above two sentences would have been used as demonstrative pronouns.
First, keep in mind that a pronoun is used to avoid the repetition of the noun. Second, the noun does not sit after the pronoun. If the noun is found after the pronoun, that word will no longer be a pronoun, it will become an adjective, or will be used as an adjective. In general, the simplest way to recognize a pronoun is: after the pronoun the verb will be used (pronoun + verb) and after the adjective. the noun will be used (Adjective + Noun).