Pronouns Personal Possessive Demonstrative Relative Pronouns act as nouns and often replace them, e.g., She replacing Jessica or It replacing table. There are several types of pronouns. In this section, we will focus on the following types:
Personal Pronouns There are two types of personal pronouns: Subjective Pronouns Subjects Objective Pronouns Objectsreceivethe action in the sentence. performthe action in the sentence.
Subjective PronounsObjective Pronouns I You He / She / It We You They Me You Him / Her / It Us You Them
Examples of Subjective and Objective Pronouns She took her to the doctor I called him last night. We beat them at chess They teach me good things. The subjects perform the actions of the verbs (took, called, beat, teach). The objects receive the actions of the verbs.
Try this exercise (She/Her) should show more patience and not scold (he/him). (We/Us) teachers understand our students more than (they/them) do. (I/Me) swim faster than (she/her).
Answers She, the subject, is performing the action show, and him, the object, is receiving the action scold. We teachers understand them more than they themselves do. We is the subject, performing the action understand; them is the object receiving the action understand; they is another subject performing the action do. She should show more patience and not scold him.
Answers I swim faster than she. I is the subject because it performs the action swim. But she is also a subject. Following she is an invisible or implied swim, ie. I swim faster than she swims, not I swim faster than her swims.
Possessive pronouns Pronouns that are in the possessive case indicate possession or ownership. This is my book My is used with a noun (book) to indicate possession. This is mine Mine is used instead of my + a noun (book) and still indicates possession.
Types of Possessive Pronouns My Your His / Her / Its Our Your Their Mine Yours His / Hers / Its Ours Yours Theirs
Try this exercise This dress does not match the color of (her/hers) eyes. I don’t believe that this book is (your/yours).
Answers This dress does not match the color of your eyes. The pronoun your needs to be followed by a noun (eyes). The pronoun yours cannot be followed by a noun. So, yours eyes would be wrong. I don’t believe that this book is yours. Again, the pronoun your needs to be followed by a noun, but there is none: This book is your…?
Demonstrative Pronouns Demonstrative pronouns point to nouns, which follow the pronouns. Sometimes, the demonstrative pronouns replace nouns. Examples: ThisThis is not what I expected. I’ve never heard you sing that before. These shoes are too tight to wear. That These ThoseI’ll take these and those dresses.
Relative Pronouns Some relative pronouns refer to nouns previously mentioned in the sentence. Others introduce noun clauses (clauses that function as nouns). Examples of the first and second type: That Which Who whom What Whichever Whoever Whomever
That Dogs that are adorable have expressive eyes. That refers to the noun before it, dogs. Note: That is also a demonstrative pronoun. The demonstrative pronoun that comes before the noun. E.g That dog bit you. The relative pronoun that comes after the noun: the dog that bit you...
Which Dogs, which are all adorable, have expressive eyes. Which also refers to the noun before it, dogs. Many students confuse which with that, often assuming they have the same functions. To learn the difference between the relative pronouns which and that, go to the PowerPoint presentation on Phrases and Clauses. Right now, let’s just get familiar with the various types of pronouns.
Who and Whom Who refers to the noun before it, man. Note: The man is the subject performing the action stole. So, who refers to the subject. Here is the person whom I spoke to you about. I saw the man who stole my car. Whom refers to the noun before it, person. Note: The person is the object receiving the action spoke about. So, whom refers to the object.
What(ever), and Whichever What you do with your life is your business. What (or whatever) introduces the noun clause what you do with your life. Again, noun clauses function as one-word nouns, such as law: law is your business. Whichever dress you choose will look good. Whichever also introduces a noun clause whichever dress you choose. Replace the clause with a single noun, e.g., the dress will look good.
Whoever and Whomever Whoever is appointed is bound to mess things up. Whoever introduces the noun clause whoever is appointed. Here’s a one-word noun, Jack. Jack is bound to mess things up. I dislike whomever she likes. Whomever introduces the noun clause whomever she likes. Replace this with the noun, Jack: I dislike Jack.
Try this exercise: Identify the demonstrative and relative pronouns in the following passage: Tom couldn’t believe it! His sister had lost the CD that he had lent to her. That girl was irresponsible. He should have known: She was the same person who had ruined his favorite T-shirt – the one that he wore for good luck. He should have lent his CD to James, a friend whom he always trusted. He was more responsible than that sibling of his. Whatever she did to make up for it would not get him to forgive her.
Answers The relative pronouns are in green. The demonstrative pronouns are in blue. Tom couldn’t believe it! His sister had lost the CD that he had lent to her. That girl was irresponsible. He should have known: She was the same person who had ruined his favorite T-shirt – the one that he wore for good luck. He should have lent his CD to James, a friend whom he always trusted. He was more responsible than that sibling of his. Whatever she did to make up for it would not get him to forgive her.
You have completed the first part of Parts of Speech. You can now move on to: Parts of Speech II Well done!
Concepts borrowed from: Troyka, Lynn Quitman. Simon & Schuster Handbook for Writers. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1990. Hacker, Diana. The Bedford Handbook. Boston: Bedford Books, 1998.