flesl.net grammar glossary::pronouns


• Pronouns are one of the seven word classes of English. They are function words which are often used as substitutes for nouns or noun phrases. For example in the sentence, Money is not as important as people think it is, the word “it” is a substitute for the word “money” and in the sentence, Jill lent Sam the book she had told him about and he read it immediately, “it” is a substitute for the noun phrase, “the book she had told him about.” Prounouns are also often used instead of nouns when it is clear from the non-linguistic context what is being referred to. For example, if Jack sees that his young son is trying to hide something in his hand, he might say, Let me see that! Pronouns can also take the place of a noun not to refer to a particular, definite thing, but “indefinitely” to a particular sort of thing. For example, in the sentence Jill heard someone knocking loudly on the door, the pronoun “someone’ refers in a general way to ”a human sort of thing.” Although there are important differences between the various types, all pronouns have in common the fact that most of their meaning is supplied by the context in which they appear. They also have in common the effect of making language much simpler than it would otherwise be.

Central Pronouns (these have subject/object, singular/plural and masculine/feminine forms)

• Personal: I, you, he, she, it, we, they, me, him, her, us, them
• Reflexive: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, themselves
• Possessive: my, mine, your, yours, his, her, hers, our, ours, their, theirs

• Reciprocal: each other, one another

• Relative: who, whom, what, which, whose, that

• Interrogative: who, whom, what, which, whose

• Demonstrative: this, that, these, those

• Indefinite: e.g. everybody, everything, everyone, each, some, somebody, something, one, several, enough, neither, nobody, none