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Definition

pronoun

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

A pronoun is a non-specific word that stands in for a noun in situations where it should be clearly understood what or whom the pronoun refers to.

The noun that a pronoun substitutes for is often placed closer to the start of the sentence; the pronoun then serves to refer to that entity or thing without repeating the noun. The noun or noun phrase that a pronoun refers to is called the antecedent.

Types of pronouns:

The personal pronouns are I/me, you, she/her, he/him, it, we/us, and they/them. In each paired example, the first pronoun is the subjective case form. As the subject of a sentence (the doer), the correct form is I, for example; as the object, the correct form is me:

I updated my Facebook status to report that my iPhone had been returned to me.

I encourage anyone with further questions to contact Tim or me.

Demonstrative pronouns this, that, those and these replace specific nouns when used by themselves in a sentence. (If we use them along with the noun, they're demonstrative adjectives instead, as in the phrase that scoundrel.)

Reflexive pronouns, such as myself and yourself, are used when the subject and object of the sentence are the same person. As in: I embarrass myself when I use the wrong pronoun. The same pronouns are also sometimes used as intensive pronouns to add emphasis, as in: I, myself, never use the wrong pronoun. (Try some quiz questions about me/myself/I)

Interrogative pronouns whowhomwhosewhich and what are used to ask questions. 

Indefinite pronouns such as all, any, anyone, anything, each, everybody, everything, few, many, nobody, none, nothing, one, several, some and someone are used to refer to non-specific entities and things. 

Relative pronouns that, which, who, whom and whose introduce adjective clauses. 

Possessive pronouns such as mine, hers, his, ours and theirs indicate ownership of something being discussed. 

 

This was last updated in May 2014

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