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Pronouns | What Is a Pronoun? Types and Examples of Pronouns

Pronouns | What Is a Pronoun? Types and Examples of Pronouns

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We’ve heard of nouns before, and hopefully, nouns have been fairly easy for you to grasp. But what on earth is a pronoun and how does it fit in with the rest of the language rules we’ve already learned? What makes a word a pronoun instead of a noun, or when should you keep a noun and not use a pronoun?

Don’t worry, these questions aren’t anywhere near as confusing as they might first seem. You’ll find that once you understand how pronouns should be used, you’ll have an easy time remembering them and probably won’t find yourself asking these questions again.

Understanding of Pronouns

Pronouns | What Is a Pronoun? Types and Examples of Pronouns

What Is a Pronoun?

A pronoun is a subcategory of a common noun that is used as a way to mix up a sentence without having to use the same word over and over again. It’s most commonly found in storytelling and novel writing as it requires a little more than just using the same noun over and over again to be an exciting piece of work.

Take the sentence “James went to the shop“, for example. If James did indeed go to the shop, then it’s a perfectly fine sentence to use, and “James” acts as the noun. However, if you then go on to say “James went for a run“, all of a sudden you’ve used to word “James” twice in two sentences and it begins to sound a bit exhaustive and repetitive.

This is where pronouns come in. Instead of using the full name to talk about the subject of the sentence, you can shorten it down completely and use the pronoun “he” or “his” when referring to “James” in the sentence. So the sentences together become “James went to the shop. He went for a run.” It just helps with the flow of your sentencing more than anything else.

Function of Pronoun

Pronouns serve various functions in our everyday language:

  1. Replacing nouns: This helps avoid repeating the same noun multiple times in conversation, making it easier for both the speaker and listener.
  2. Indicating grammatical relationships: Pronouns help to establish relationships between different parts of a sentence or paragraph, such as showing possession (e.g., “The book is ours“) or object (e.g., “She gave me the book”).
  3. Expressing gender identity: People may use pronouns to convey their gender identity, like “he/him” for a male, “she/her” for a female, or “they/them” for a non-binary or gender-neutral expression.

Types of Pronouns & Examples

Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns are used to represent people or things. They can act as the subject or object in a sentence. Here is a list and some example sentences:

  • I: We saw the movie yesterday.
  • You: Can you help us with the project?
  • He: He loves playing soccer.
  • She: She went to the library.
  • It: The cat chased its tail.
  • We: We’re going on a trip this weekend.
  • They: They enjoyed the concert.

Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns show ownership or belonging. Below are some examples:

  • Mine: This book is mine.
  • Yours: The decision is yours.
  • His: The umbrella is his.
  • Hers: The dress is hers.
  • Its: The dog ate its food.
  • Ours: This house is ours.
  • Theirs: The car is theirs.

Relative Pronouns

Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject and object are the same. They are formed by adding ‘-self’ or ‘-selves’ to the personal pronouns. Here are some examples:

  • Myself: I taught myself to play the guitar.
  • Yourself: You should give yourself some credit.
  • Himself: He cooked dinner for himself.
  • Herself: She drove herself to work.
  • Itself: The cat licked itself clean.
  • Ourselves: We built the furniture ourselves.
  • Themselves: They did the chores themselves.

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns point to specific items or people. They include:

  • This: This is my favorite shirt.
  • That: That was a great movie.
  • These: These cookies are delicious.
  • Those: Those houses are beautiful.

Interrogative Pronouns

Interrogative pronouns are used to ask questions. The main ones are:

  • Who: Who is going to the party?
  • Whom: Whom should we ask for directions?
  • Whose: Whose bag is this?
  • Which: Which color do you prefer?
  • What: What is your favorite book?

Relative Pronouns

Relative pronouns introduce relative clauses, providing more information about a noun. Examples include:

  • Who: She is the person who helped us.
  • Whom: The musician to whom I spoke was very talented.
  • Whose: The girl whose painting won first prize is my friend.
  • Which: The book, which is on the table, is a bestseller.
  • That: I like the shoes that you bought.

Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns refer to unspecified people or things. Some common ones are:

  • All: All were invited to the party.
  • Any: We don’t have any sugar left.
  • Some: Some people prefer coffee over tea.
  • None: None of the options were suitable.
  • Several: Several students attended the lecture.

Reciprocal Pronouns

These pronouns are used to show a mutual relationship between nouns. These can be either “each other” or “one another“.

Issues in Pronoun Use

Pronoun-Antecedent Clarity

It is essential for us to maintain clarity in our writing by ensuring that pronoun-antecedent relationships are apparent. The antecedent is the noun that a pronoun refers to, and when they’re unclear, our writing can become confusing. To avoid this:

  • Make sure the antecedent is unmistakable.
  • Avoid using two antecedents with one pronoun.
  • Don’t place the antecedent too far from the pronoun.

For example:

  • Unclear: Sam and Alex gave their jackets.
  • Clear: Sam gave his jacket, and Alex gave hers.

Vague Pronoun References

Vague pronoun references can also lead to confusion in our writing. When using pronouns, we should ensure that they clearly relate to a specific noun. Here are some tips to avoid vague pronoun references:

  1. Be specific – Unclear: The dog chased the cat, but it quickly got away. (Which one got away?) Clear: The dog chased the cat, but the cat quickly got away.
  2. Avoid “it,” “that,” and “this” without a clear antecedent – Unclear: Amy was late to the meeting because it was rescheduled. (What is “it?”) Clear: Amy was late to the meeting because the time had been changed.
  3. Eliminate ambiguities – Unclear: Sasha spoke to Mara about her concerns. (Whose concerns?) Clear: Sasha discussed her concerns with Mara.

Avoiding Sexist Language

Lastly, we should strive to avoid sexist language when using pronouns. Gender-neutral language helps ensure that our writing is inclusive and respectful. Here are a few ways to achieve this:

  • Use plural forms. Example: Students must submit their assignments on time, instead of A student must submit his/her assignment on time.
  • Rewrite the sentence using “one” or “you.” Example: One should finish the task, instead of A person should finish his/her task.
  • Alternate between “he” and “she.” Example: In one paragraph, use “he,” and in the next, use “she.”
  • Use gender-neutral pronouns like “they” when appropriate. Example: Whoever finishes first wins their choice of prize, instead of Whoever finishes first wins his/her choice of prize.

Interactive Exercises

Exercise 1: Pronoun Replacement


  1. Read the sentence provided.
  2. Identify the noun that can be replaced with a pronoun.
  3. Write a new sentence where you replace the noun with the correct pronoun.

Sentences for Practice:

A. “The students asked the teacher if the students could have a break.”

  • Noun to replace: the students
  • New sentence: ___________________________________________________.

B. “David and I decided that David and I would meet at the park.”

  • Noun to replace: David and I
  • New sentence: ___________________________________________________.

C. “The cat chased the cat’s tail whenever the cat was bored.”

  • Noun to replace: The cat
  • New sentence: ___________________________________________________.

D. “Angela told Angela’s friend that Angela would be late.”

  • Noun to replace: Angela
  • New sentence: ___________________________________________________.


  • A. “The students asked the teacher if they could have a break.”
  • B. “David and I decided that we would meet at the park.”
  • C. “The cat chased its tail whenever it was bored.”
  • D. “Angela told her friend that she would be late.”

Exercise 2: Pronoun Identification


  1. Read each sentence.
  2. Identify the pronoun in the sentence.
  3. Determine the type of pronoun it is.
  4. Write down the pronoun and its type.

Sentences for Practice:

A. “Is anyone going to answer the door?”

  • Pronoun: ________
  • Type: ________

B. “This is the book that I was talking about.”

  • Pronoun: ________
  • Type: ________

C. “Myself, I prefer to have coffee in the morning.”

  • Pronoun: ________
  • Type: ________

D. “Whose jacket is this on the chair?”

  • Pronoun: ________
  • Type: ________

E. “They all went to the concert together.”

  • Pronoun: ________
  • Type: ________
  • A. Type: Indefinite pronoun
  • B. Relative pronoun
  • C. Reflexive pronoun
  • D. Possessive pronoun
  • E. Personal pronoun

List of Pronouns

  • All
  • Another
  • Any
  • Anybody
  • Anyone
  • Anything
  • As
  • Aught
  • Both
  • Each
  • Each Other
  • Either
  • Enough
  • Everybody
  • Everyone
  • Everything
  • Few
  • He
  • Her
  • Hers
  • Herself
  • Him
  • Himself
  • His
  • I
  • Idem
  • It
  • Its
  • Itself
  • Many
  • Me
  • Mine
  • Most
  • My
  • Myself
  • Naught
  • Neither
  • No One
  • Nobody
  • None
  • Nothing
  • One
  • One Another
  • Other
  • Others
  • Ought
  • Our
  • Ours
  • Ourself
  • Ourselves
  • Several
  • She
  • Some
  • Somebody
  • Someone
  • Something
  • Somewhat
  • Such
  • Suchlike
  • That
  • Thee
  • Their
  • Theirs
  • Them
  • Themself
  • Themselves
  • There
  • These
  • They
  • Thine
  • This
  • Those
  • Thou
  • Thy
  • Thyself
  • Us
  • We
  • What
  • Whatever
  • Whatnot
  • Whatsoever
  • Whence
  • Where
  • Whereby
  • Wherefrom
  • Wherein
  • Whereinto
  • Whereof
  • Whereon
  • Wheresoever
  • Whereto
  • Whereunto
  • Wherever
  • Wherewith
  • Wherewithal
  • Whether
  • Which
  • Whichever
  • Whichsoever
  • Who
  • Whoever
  • Whom
  • Whomever
  • Whomsoever
  • Whose
  • Whosesoever
  • Whosever
  • Whoso
  • Whosoever
  • Ye
  • Yon
  • Yonder
  • You
  • Your
  • Yours
  • Yourself
  • Yourselves

Pronouns | Images

Pronouns | What Is a Pronoun? Types and Examples of Pronouns

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some commonly used pronouns for non-binary individuals?

There are multiple pronouns that non-binary individuals might use. Some common examples include they/them, ze/hir, and xe/xem. However, it’s essential to remember that pronouns are unique to each person, and not all non-binary individuals will use the same pronouns. It is always best to ask someone for their preferred pronouns.

How can I respectfully ask someone about their preferred pronouns?

To respectfully inquire about someone’s preferred pronouns, simply ask, “What pronouns do you use?” or “What are your pronouns?” It’s important not to make assumptions based on someone’s appearance or name, as this can lead to using incorrect pronouns and make them feel disrespected.

What is the significance of using someone’s correct pronouns?

Using someone’s correct pronouns demonstrates respect for their gender identity and acknowledges their individuality. It contributes to an inclusive and supportive environment, free from assumptions and stereotypes. Misgendering someone, or using the wrong pronouns, can be hurtful and invalidate their identity.

Can you provide examples of how to use they/them pronouns in a sentence?

Sure! Here are a few examples of how to use they/them pronouns in a sentence:

  • Alex told me they are going to the store.
  • I’m not sure what Sam wants for lunch; you can ask them.
  • Jordan misplaced their keys; have you seen them?

These sentences illustrate how to use they/them pronouns as a singular form to refer to a person whose gender is not specified or who does not identify within the gender binary.

What are the differences between gender-neutral and gender-inclusive pronouns?

Gender-neutral pronouns, such as they/them, are pronouns that can be used for anyone, regardless of their gender identity. On the other hand, gender-inclusive pronouns encompass a wide range of pronouns that people might use, including gender-neutral pronouns, but also specific pronouns like he, she, or xe. Gender-inclusive language aims to be respectful and encompass all individuals, acknowledging their unique pronoun preferences.

How do pronoun preferences vary across different cultures and communities?

Pronoun preferences can differ significantly between cultures and communities. Some cultures might have gender-neutral pronouns built into their language, while others might adapt pronouns over time to create more inclusive language. It’s crucial to be aware of these differences and respect people’s pronouns and the context of their cultural background.


Wednesday 2nd of November 2022

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Sunday 28th of November 2021