Pronouns

Pronouns replace nouns. A different pronoun is required depending on two elements: the noun being replaced and the function that noun has in the sentence. In English, pronouns only take the gender of the noun they replace in the 3rd person singular form. The 2nd person plural pronouns are identical to the 2nd person singular pronouns except for the reflexive pronoun.

  Subject Pronoun Object Pronoun Possessive Adjective (Determiner) Possessive Pronoun Reflexive or Intensive Pronoun
1st person singular I me my mine myself
2nd person singular you you your yours yourself
3rd person singular, male he him his his himself
3rd person singular, female she her her hers herself
3rd person singular, neutral it it its   itself
1st person plural we us our ours ourselves
2nd person plural you you your yours yourselves
3rd person plural they them their theirs themselves

Subject Pronouns

Subject pronouns replace nouns that are the subject of their clause. In the 3rd person, subject pronouns are often used to avoid repetition of the subject's name.

Examples
  • I am 16.
  • You seem lost.
  • Jim is angry, and he wants Sally to apologize.
  • This table is old. It needs to be repainted.
  • We aren't coming.
  • They don't like pancakes.

Object Pronouns

Object pronouns are used to replace nouns that are the direct or indirect object of a clause.

Examples
  • Give the book to me.
  • The teacher wants to talk to you.
  • Jake is hurt because Bill hit him.
  • Rachid recieved a letter from her last week.
  • Mark can't find it.
  • Don't be angry with us.
  • Tell them to hurry up!

Possessive Adjectives (Determiners)

Possessive adjectives are not pronouns, but rather determiners. It is useful to learn them at the same time as pronouns, however, because they are similar in form to the possessive pronouns. Possessive adjectives function as adjectives, so they appear before the noun they modify. They do not replace a noun as pronouns do.

Examples
  • Did mother find my shoes?
  • Mrs. Baker wants to see your homework.
  • Can Jake bring over his baseball cards?
  • Samantha will fix her bike tomorrow.
  • The cat broke its leg.
  • This is our house.
  • Where is their school?

Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns replace possessive nouns as either the subject or the object of a clause. Because the noun being replaced doesn't appear in the sentence, it must be clear from the context.

Examples
  • This bag is mine.
  • Yours is not blue.
  • That bag looks like his.
  • These shoes are not hers.
  • That car is ours.
  • Theirs is parked in the garage.

Reflexive & Intensive Pronouns

Reflexive and intensive pronouns are the same set of words but they have different functions in a sentence.

Reflexive pronouns refer back to the subject of the clause because the subject of the action is also the direct or indirect object. Only certain types of verbs can be reflexive. You cannot remove a reflexive pronoun from a sentence because the remaining sentence would be grammatically incorrect.

Examples
  • I told myself to calm down.
  • You cut yourself on this nail?
  • He hurt himself on the stairs.
  • She found herself in a dangerous part of town.
  • The cat threw itself under my car!
  • We blame ourselves for the fire.
  • The children can take care of themselves.

Intensive pronouns emphasize the subject of a clause. They are not the object of the action. The intensive pronoun can always be removed from a sentence without changing the meaning significantly, although the emphasis on the subject will be removed. Intensive pronouns can be placed immediately after the subject of the clause, or at the end of the clause.

Examples
  • I made these cookies myself.
  • You yourself asked Jake to come.
  • The Pope himself pardoned Mr. Brown.
  • My teacher didn't know the answer herself.
  • The test itself wasn't scary, but my teacher certainly is.
  • We would like to finish the renovation before Christmas ourselves.
  • They themselves told me the lost shoe wasn't a problem.