Wordwatch Towers

A plain language guide to punctuation, grammar and writing well.

Technical stuff – part 13: pronouns

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A curious kitty. Un ejemplo de curiosidad.
Image via Wikipedia

We use pronouns all the time. They often help us to avoid boring repetition when we are writing and speaking. For example, look at the following sentence:

John said that shortly after John arrived John decided to eat John’s lunch and then feed John’s cat.

Of course, what we would really write is:

John said that shortly after he arrived he decided to eat his lunch and then feed his cat.

Instead of repeating the name ‘John’ we are using the pronouns ‘he’ and ‘his’.

So a pronoun is simply a word used to replace another word.

Very often, a pronoun is used to replace a noun, as in the sentence above where we see the noun ‘John’ being replaced with the pronouns ‘he’ and ‘his’.

Different types of pronoun

No need to get bogged down in this, but you may be interested to know that there are different types of pronoun. These are:

Personal — for example:

I, me, we, us, he, him, you, her, she, they, them

Possessive — for example:

mine, yours, ours, hers, his, theirs

Reflexive — for example:

ourselves, himself, herself, themselves

Demonstrative — for example:

this, those, that, these

Interrogative (used to ask questions) — for example:

who, whose, what, which

Indefinite — for example:

some, something, everyone, everything, someone, both, each, neither

Relative — for example:

who, whose, that, which (e.g. ‘The house that Jack built’)

Nouns, verbs and adjectives


Written by Wordwatch

24/02/2010 at 2:56 pm

One Response

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  1. From the After Deadline column in The New York Times:

    Mr. Paladino may have low approval ratings downstate. But to some residents around Buffalo, Mr. Paladino, a prominent local real estate developer, is a hometown hero. High turnout in Erie County, where Buffalo is, helped Mr. Paladino win the Republican primary.

    A pronoun or two would have spared readers the jarring repetition of his surname in three consecutive sentences.


    09/03/2011 at 9:00 am

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