English Grammar Guide

Pronouns

 

A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. Pronouns can be Subject, Object, Possessive or Reflexive.


Subject Pronoun Object Pronoun Possessive Pronoun Reflexive Pronoun
I Me Mine Myself
You You Yours Yourself
He Him His Himself
She Her Her Herself
It It Its Itself
We Us Ours Ourselves
You You Yours Yourselves
They Them Theirs Themselves

Subject pronouns

Subject pronouns are used when the pronoun is the subject of the sentence. English nouns do not usually refer to gender, so the pronouns 'he' and 'she' are generally used only for people or animals. For objects or impersonal expressions, the pronoun 'it' is used.


  • She wants to eat.

  • You look tired.

  • It is hard to cook well.

Object pronouns

Object pronouns will always have the same form whether they are used as direct, indirect, or prepositional objects. Whatever the form of the sentence (affirmative, negative, interrogative), direct objects -- or the pronouns replacing them -- follow the verb:


  • Did you hear me?

  • You didn't buy it.

  • You ate them!

Prepositional objects come after their preposition:


  • Will you come to the store with me?

  • He left without her.

Indirect objects generally come after the proposition 'to', unless the pronoun precedes the direct object, in which case the proposition 'to' is not used:


  • I have spoken to her.

  • I gave this present to them.

  • BUT - I gave them the present.

Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns are used to show ownership and replace the noun they refer to.


  • It is not your book. It's mine.    (replaces 'my book')

  • This is my book and that one is yours.    (replaces 'your book')

  • I like their house, but I prefer ours.    (replaces 'our house')

Note: The above statements also use possessive adjectives (my, your, their). For more information about these and other possessive forms, see 'Possession'. In the examples below, the possessive pronoun acts as the subject of the sentence.


  • I've already had dinner. Yours is in the oven.

  • Theirs is bigger than ours.

  • Ours is the green house on the corner.

Reflexive Pronouns

Reflexive pronouns always act as objects not subjects, and they require an interaction between the subject and an object.
They should be used only when they refer back to the subject of the verb.


Examples:

  • I did it myself.

  • I cut my hair myself.

  • John talks to himself when he is nervous.

  • He washed himself.

  • She looked at herself in the mirror.

Order of pronouns

When a verb is followed by two or more pronouns, we use them in the order shown below:

Subject -- verb -- object -- indirect object -- prepositional object:
He............. gave..........it..................to me...............for christmas.


Examples

  • Don't tell that to him.

  • He couldn't sell the car to them.

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