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Emily is 6 years old. Emily likes to act in plays and read. Emily has a brother named Michael. Michael is 4 years older than Emily. Emily also has a mother named Yvette and a father named Paul. Emily, Michael, Yvette, and Paul live in New Jersey. As a family, Emily, Michael, Yvette and Paul like traveling and seeing concerts together.

Technically, the previous paragraph is correct! There is nothing wrong with the grammar or spelling. But, it sounds very repetitive. Let’s try replacing some of those words with pronouns.

Emily is 6 years old. She likes to act in plays and read. She has a brother named Michael. He is 4 years older than Emily. Emily also has a mother named Yvette and a father named Paul. Emily, her brother, and her parents live in New Jersey. As a family, they like traveling and seeing concerts together.

That sounds a lot better because we replaced the nouns with pronouns!

As a reminder, a noun is a person (teacher), place (school), thing (pencil), or idea (knowledge). All pronoun words replace a noun or a group of nouns. In my previous example, “she” replaced “Emily,” and “they” replaced “Emily, Michael, Yvette and Paul.”

List of all pronouns

Before reading the list of all pronouns, make sure you know the difference between singular and plural!

A singular pronoun replaces one noun (“Emily” becomes “she” or “her). A plural pronoun replaces multiple nouns (“Emily, Michael, Yvette, and Paul” becomes “they). Plural pronouns can replace any number that is larger than one — whether it is two or two thousand.

Gender is important in grammar. When it comes to describing a person in English, people can generally be a man or a woman. When referring to a man, use the subject pronoun “he.” When referring to a woman, use the subject pronoun “she.”

Please note that there are exceptions to this, and people can choose pronouns that don’t match either gender. If that’s the case, then simply ask them what pronouns they wish to use, and use those instead!

Take a look at the chart below. Look for an explanation of what everything means in the chart below it.

Subject pronouns Object pronouns Possessive pronouns
1st person singular I Me My, Mine
2nd person singular You You Your, Yours
3rd person singular (male) He Him His
3rd person singular (female) She Her Hers
3rd person (item) It It (NOT USED)
1st person plural We Us Our, Ours
2nd person plural You You Your, Yours
3rd person plural (item) They Them Their, Theirs

That chart may be a bit overwhelming, so let’s break it down column by column,

Personal pronouns

Before reading the chart, you may recall that it contained all personal pronouns in English. But, what exactly is a personal pronoun?

Put simply, a personal pronoun is what we use as a replacement for a name of someone or something. Think back to the example about Emily and her family from earlier. Every time a name was replaced with a word like she, her, or they, a personal pronoun was being used.

Personal pronouns can be either a subject pronoun or an object pronoun. Take a look at the next few sections to find some differences between them.

Before doing that — let’s talk about the word “you.” Most languages have a difference between the singular “you” and the plural “you.” English, however, does not have that distinction, so context must be used to determine if the singular or plural “you” is being used.

Subject Pronouns

Every sentence has a subject and predicate. The subject is who (or what) is performing the action of the sentence, and the predicate is the action being performed. Look at the examples below — the subject is underlined.

The dog barked at her owner.
Evan will practice the guitar twice a week.
My neighbor gave me extra candy on Halloween.
The red car is faster than the blue car, but a little more expensive.

In all these cases, the subject is followed by a verb, which is an action word (in the examples, the verbs are barked, will practice, gave, and is). All subject nouns are performing the action in their sentences.

Subject pronouns replace the subject. For example, rather than saying “Evan will practice the guitar twice a week,” someone can say “He will practice the guitar twice a week.”

In the chart, you probably noticed the word “it.”As you recall, in other languages, items have genders. However, in English, we do not gender our objects. The beach is not a boy or a girl — neither is a table, a computer, a water bottle, or a couch.

So, when using an item as the subject of a sentence, like in the last example from earlier, we use the word “it.” “The red car is faster than the blue car” becomes “It is faster than the blue car.”

What about when referring to a group of people or items? In English, we use “they.” Some languages have two words for “they” — one for a group of men or masculine items, and one for a group of women or feminine items. In English, whatever gender the people and whatever items that are being discussed, “they” gets used.

Make sure when you use a subject pronoun, that the other person who you are talking to is able to identify who you mean. Take these sentences: Joe and Marlon love to play video games. His favorite video game series is Pokemon.

I have two people — Joe and Marlon — and I used the word “he.” Does the “he” refer to Joe, or does it refer to Marlon? There’s no way of knowing in that example.

Object Pronouns

Take a look at these sentences and at the underlined words.

Mrs. Hunt bought lunch for the students.
I went to the amusement park with Mike and Carla.
Quinton bought a present for his sister.
Will you sing the song with Allison?

In all of these cases, the underlined words each are not performing the action. Rather, they are receiving the action. For example, Quinton’s sister is not buying the present — he is buying the present for her.

All object pronouns can be used for this. Rather than saying that I went to the amusement park with Mike and Carla, I can use the word “them.” Either way, Mike and Carla are not performing the action — they are receiving the action (in this case, going to the amusement park).

Object pronouns are used to avoid awkward-sounding sentences. Read the following sentences:

I went to the store with my friend Alllison. Then, I went to the mall with my friend Allison. Finally, I went to my house with my Allison.

By the time the second sentence comes around, the reader knows that you were hanging out with your friend Allison! So, replacing “my friend Allison” in a few instances, we get:

I went to the store with my friend Allison. Then, I went to the mall with her. Finally, I went home with her.

This second example sounds a lot better. Please note — it is very important to make sure that your audience knows who you are talking about (in the above case, we are discussing your friend Allison). But, after making clear who is being discussed, using object pronouns becomes key.

Possessive Pronouns

A possessive pronoun means that something belongs to someone. All possessive pronouns are listed in the chart above. They never use apostrophes when spelling them.

For example, I could say “Mark takes pride in Mark’s work.” However, using a possessive pronoun makes the sentence sound better. With a possessive pronoun, the sentence now reads “Mark takes pride in his work.”

If you look at the chart above, you will notice that the “possessive pronoun” column has two words in most of the boxes. Some possessive pronouns (independent possessive pronouns) must be used without a noun, while others must be used with a noun. The independent possessive pronouns most commonly used are mine, yours, his, hers, ours, and theirs. Look below for some examples of possessive pronouns (underlined).

The small puppy is ours, and the big puppy is theirs.
My food hasn’t come out yet. Can I have some of yours while I wait?
The blue coat is mine, but you can borrow it for the day.

Review

  • All pronoun words replace either a noun or a group of noun
  • Pronouns in English can be singular or plural. However, unlike other languages, English pronouns do not have genders.
  • All pronoun words replace either a noun or a group of noun
  • Pronouns in English can be singular or plural. However, unlike
  • All personal pronouns replace named nouns
  • All subject pronouns perform the action of the sentence
  • All object pronouns have the action performed on them
  • All possessive pronouns indicate ownership

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