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English grammar (pronoun)

Introduction to pronoun

English Grammar - Relative Pronouns
A pronoun is a word we use to take the place of a noun, which can be a person, place or thing. We use it (pronoun) to avoid repeating a noun that had already been mentioned.
 We can write or say, “Jim has a bicycle. Jim rides his bicycle every day.” But there’s a better way of putting it using pronouns: Jim has a bicycle. He rides it every day. The words he and it are pronouns used to replace the nouns Jim and bicycle. Examples of pronoun are Iyouhesheitwetheyanyone, everyonehimselfmyself, nobody, yourself, who.
Other examples include thisthatallanyeachnonesomethatwhatwhich, etc. These pronouns can also be determiners, so how can we tell whether they are pronouns or determiners. It all depends on how they are used. As pronouns, they are used independently, that is without a noun following them.
  • This is a big house. (This is a pronoun as it occurs independently.)
    This house is big. (This comes after the noun house, so it is not a pronoun. Here, this is a determiner. A determiner modifies a noun, which a pronoun does not do.)
  • Some of the students were rather skinny. (Pronoun)
    Some students were rather skinny. (Determiner)

Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns take the place of nouns that refer to people, but not all personal pronouns refer to people. The third person pronoun it refers to animals and things.
 Personal pronouns have number, person, and gender.  
The Personal Pronoun must be of the same numbergender, and person as the noun for which it represents.
Number:
The pronoun must agree with the noun it represents in number.
  • Singular: The boy is playing with his kite. He has a red kite.
  • Plural: The boys are playing with their kites. They have kites of various colours.
Person:
  • First personhate clipping my nails.
  • Second personYou should not have done it.
  • Third personIt is a rare species of fish.
Gender:
The pronoun must agree with the noun it represents in gender.
  • Masculine: Jill has a boyfriend. He comes across as a bit of a bore to her.
  • Feminine: John’s sister loves to eat pizza. She eats it almost every day.
  • Neuter: We have an old kitchen tableIt has a broken leg.

Possessive Pronouns

The possessive pronouns are the possessive forms of personal pronouns. We use the personal pronouns in the possessive case to express possession. A possessive pronoun is able to stand on its 
own as subject, object, etc.
SingularPlural
mineours
yoursyours
histheirs
herstheirs
 Possessive pronouns
  • This dog is mine. That kitten is yours.
  • I think the dog that wandered into our house is theirs.
  • Your newborn baby is much bigger than ours.
Possessive pronouns as subject and object
  • Yours has weeds all over. (Subject)
  • Your cat has bitten mine on the stomach. (Object)
We do not insert an apostrophe in possessive pronouns (especially, yourshis,hersitsourstheirs) that express ownership.
  • This slice of burger is yours. (Not: This slice of burger is your’s.)
  • It is licking its paw. (Not: It is licking it’s paw.)
  • Whose footprints are these? (NotWho’s footprints are these?)

Reflexive Pronouns

Reflexive pronouns are those pronouns formed by adding ‘ –self’ to singular and ‘–selves’ to plural possessives to produce the following: myselfyourself,herselfhimselfitselfoneself; and ourselvesyourselvesthemselves.

A reflexive pronoun refers back to the subject when used in a sentence.

  • Sometimes I think to myself that it is time to lose some weight.
  • She likes to look at the mirror and smile to herself.
  • He tried to be himself and not be like Michael Jackson all the time
  • One of their dogs spent hours licking itself.
  • We do not always make ourselves practise what we preach.
  • You often talk to yourself and nobody knows what you talk about.

Relative Pronouns

A relative pronoun comesat the beginning of a relative clause. A relative clause is a subordinate clause that tells us more about the noun in the main clause. The relative clause comes immediately after the noun. Relative pronouns are thatwhichwhowhom, whose, whatever, whichever, whoever, whomever, etc. That and which refer to animals and things. Thatmay also refer to people. We use the relative pronouns who and whom for people, and whose for people and things.
  • I know the dog that bit my cat.
In the above sentence, the relative  pronoun is that and it introduces the relative clause (in bold). ‘I know the dog’ is the main clause. The relative clause that bit my cat tells us something about the 
noun dog.


We use that and which in almost the same way as we use who, but they refer to things, not people. There is a difference in using which and who. Afterwhich, we can use a verb, a pronoun or a noun. After who, we usually use a verb.
  • That was the camera, which cost five hundred dollars. (Verb comes afterwhich)
    That was the camera, which he bought. (Pronoun comes after which)
    That was the camera, which John liked. (Noun comes after which)
  • Who lives in that haunted castle? (Verb comes after who)
    That is the man, who is my dad's best friend. (Verb comes after who)
We use who as a relative pronoun to refer to people. In the last sentence, whorefers to man which is a noun in the main clause, and it begins the relative clause who is my dad’s best friend. We can use who to join two sentences.
  • The man is an artist. He drew those pictures.
    The man who drew those pictures is an artist.

We use whom to make a statement about human beings. It is used in place of who (a) when it is the object of a verb or (b) when it comes after a preposition.
(a) The man whom they caught was sent to prison.
(b) The man to whom you should speak is the manager. / The man whom you should speak to is the manager


We use whose to show possession or relationship for both people and things.


  • That is my uncle whose wife has left him.
  • The door whose knob has come out needs a new one.

Demonstrative Pronouns

The four common demonstrative pronouns are thisthatthesethose. We use them to indicate the person, thing or place referred to, with this used to refer to someone or something nearer (that is, nearer to the person speaking) while that refers to the farther one. If there is more than one person, thing or place referred to, we use these, which is the plural of thisThose is the plural of that.
A demonstrative pronoun is no longer a demonstrative pronoun if it comes before a noun that it modifies; it becomes a determiner. If it stands on its own without modifying or describing any person, place or thing, it is a demonstrative pronoun.
  • PronounThis is the same story I heard from him before.
    DeterminerThis story is the same story I heard from him before.
  • PronounThat is not a bird; it is a kite.
    DeterminerThat bird looks like a kite. 

Indefinite pronouns

Indefinite pronouns refer to people or things in general, that is they do not specify a particular 
person or thing. Such pronouns include all, anotheranybodyanyone, anythingbotheacheither, everybody, everyone, everything, few, little, nobody,no one, none, nothing, one, other, several, some, somebody, someone, something. Indefinite pronouns can be singular or plural in a 
sentence. Those that end in –body and –one are always used as singular. Indefinite pronouns that are always plural include both, few, many, others and several. Other indefinite pronouns, depending on how they are used, can be used as singular or plural: all, any, more, most, none, and some.  

Indefinite pronouns that refer to people are anybodyanyoneeverybodynobodyone, somebody, etc., These pronouns ending in –body and–one are always singular as in the following examples.
  • I heard a noise from the other room but there wasn't anybody there.
  • Anyone is welcome to help wash my car.
  • Everybody is waiting to hear the good news.
  • Nobody wants to listen to my ghost stories.
  • One has to know when to keep quiet and listen.
  • Somebody has left a bunch of keys here.

Indefinite pronouns that refer to things such as anythingeverythingnothing,
something, etc. are singular.
  • He blames others whenever anything happens to him.
  • She's pretty happy that everything is fine with her new job.
  • I have already told you there is nothing wrong with me.
  • There is something on your forehead

Indefinite pronouns that refer to people and things: allanynonesome, etc.
These pronouns can be plural or singular, depending on how they are used.
  • He told the new members that all are welcome to the club.
  • All we know is that the rumours about him are not true. 
  • Are any of you coming along to the cinema? 
    There wasn't any food left when I got there.
  • None of my uncles is/are taller than my father.
    You want some more soup, but I'm sorry there is none left.
  • Some of them just don't (do not)know what they are talking about. 
    Some more butter is needed to make the cake. 

Indefinite pronouns that are always singular: nothingothereitherlittleneither,
no oneone
  • There is nothing to see around here.
  • I'll buy this pair; the other is more expensive.
  • The police think either of the suspects is involved in the crime.
  • Little is known about his whereabouts.
  • Neither of them wants a divorce for the sake of the children.
  • There is no one in that room, yet somehow I heard a voice calling my name.
  • One has to be aware that in every friendship there has to be some give-and-take.

Indefinite pronouns that are always plural include bothfewothers and several.
  • I cannot forget those two fat monkeys, both of which were obviously overfed.
  • There are few countries I would like to visit before I die.
  • One escaped prisoner was recaptured while two others were still at large.
  • Several of the crocodiles are believed to have escaped from the crocodile farm.



    Interrogative Pronouns

    Interrogative pronouns are used in asking questions. There are five of them, all of which begin with wh-whowhomwhose,whichwhatWho is used for people while which and what are used for things. These pronouns do not have gender.
    The following sentences show interrogative pronouns being used to ask questions:
    • Who are you shouting at?
      Who is that person?
    • Whom are you staying with?
      Whom do you wish to speak to?
    • What is your address?
      What are you going to do? 
    • Which of these colours do you like?
      Which do you think is better?
    • Whose is that car?
      Whose are those children?.

    Who is the subject pronoun while whom is the object pronoun. See the following sentences.
    Subjective case
    • Who ate my pizza?
    • Which costs more than my car?
    • What caused her sickness?
    Possessive case
    • Whose baby is crying loudly?
    • Which of the author's books have you read?
    • What does he complain of the whole day?
    Objective case
    • Whom did you borrow that book from?
    • Which did you throw away?
    • What have you planned to do this weekend?

    Who as mentioned above is the subject pronoun. It can however be used as the object of a verb.
    • Who opened the gate? (as the subject)
    • Who are you inviting to your party? (as the object)
    • Who is she smiling at? (as the object of a preposition)

    Whom is used as the object of a preposition. Prepositions used here: aboutofto.
    • Whom are you worried about?
    • Whom are you drawing pictures of?
    • Whom have you addressed the letter to?
    The preposition can come at the beginning of the interrogative pronoun.
    • About whom are you worried?
    • Of whom are you drawing pictures? 
    • To whom have you addressed the letter?
    It's wrong to repeat the preposition as in the following interrogative pronoun.
    • IncorrectTo whom have you addressed the letter to?

    Whom cannot be used as the subject (of a verb)
    • IncorrectWhom beat him up yesterday?
    • Correct: Who beat him up yesterday?



    Reciprocal Pronouns

    There are only two reciprocal pronounseach otherone another. The reciprocal pronouns are used to express a relationship in which something is done by each of two or more parties towards the other or others. They refer mostly to people, but they can also be applied to animals or things. A plural subject is always used as more than one person or thing are involved.

    Each other is usually used when writing or speaking about two people or things. For more than two people or things, one anotheris generally used.
    • Their parents often argue with each other.
    • The few puppies chased one another across the field.

    Reciprocal pronouns as objects of a verb.
    • This is the tenth year that Jack and Jim have known each other.
    • Before they began talking, they bowed to one another.

    Reciprocal pronouns following a preposition(at, with).
    • No one knows why they are shouting at each other.
    • They realized it would be much easier if they all cooperated with one another.

    Reciprocal pronouns have the possessive case.
    • The two old monkeys are seen scratching each other's heads.
    • When the two groups met, they started shaking one another's hands.





      Reciprocal Pronouns

      There are only two reciprocal pronounseach otherone another. The reciprocal pronouns are used to express a relationship in which something is done by each of two or more parties towards the other or others. They refer mostly to people, but they can also be applied to animals or things. A plural subject is always used as more than one person or thing are involved.

      Each other is usually used when writing or speaking about two people or things. For more than two people or things, one anotheris generally used.
      • Their parents often argue with each other.
      • The few puppies chased one another across the field.

      Reciprocal pronouns as objects of a verb.
      • This is the tenth year that Jack and Jim have known each other.
      • Before they began talking, they bowed to one another.

      Reciprocal pronouns following a preposition(at, with).
      • No one knows why they are shouting at each other.
      • They realized it would be much easier if they all cooperated with one another.

      Reciprocal pronouns have the possessive case.
      • The two old monkeys are seen scratching each other's heads.
      • When the two groups met, they started shaking one another's hands.





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