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Home English Pronouns: Types, Rules And Examples

Pronouns: Types, Rules And Examples

We are providing you with notes on pronouns including the types of pronouns and rules along with examples. Learn all about pronouns in this post.

Pronouns

Pronouns are the stunt doubles of the English language. They keep the communication going with or without the nouns. Pronouns come in to keep nouns from getting repetitive or when nouns are not clearly known. They constitute an important part of the English language sections. Several questions are asked from pronouns in various competitive examinations. You must thoroughly know the concept and rules of Pronouns for a better understanding. We are providing you with notes on pronouns constituting types of pronouns and rules along with examples.

Subject Verb Agreement Study Notes: Rules and Example

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Personal Pronouns

“A pronoun is a word used instead of a Noun”. (I, we, you, he, she, it, they) are called personal pronouns because they stand for the three persons.

(i)       The person speaking
(ii)      The person spoken to, and
(iii)     The person spoken of.
‘You’ is both singular and Plural.
Nominative case (Subjective)
Objective case
(Accusative)
Possessive case
(Genitive)
First Person
I
we
me
us
my, mine,
our, ours
Second Person
you
you
your, yours
Third person
he
she
it
they
him
her
it
them
his
her, hers
its
their, theirs
Pronouns are used so that our language is not cumbersome with the same nouns being repeated over and over in a paragraph.

Subject and object pronouns

Subject and object pronouns are used in everyday language. However, it can be tricky to remember which is which. The subject always takes action. The object is part of the activity, but it does not do any acting.

Here is an example:

(i) Shelby likes talking to Marvin.
Shelby is the subject; she is liking and talking. Marvin is the object; all the liking and talking is done to Marvin but not by Marvin.

Subject and object pronouns function in the same way

(i) Subject pronouns include I, you, he, she, it, they, we.
(ii) Object pronouns include me, you, him, her, it, us, them.

See the following examples:

Subject

I might see you later.
You have to come now.
She lives in Nebraska.
He makes me angry
It just might work.
They caught the last train.
We can’t see the end.

Object

Sarah hit me on the arm.
I need to tell you something.
Larry took him aside.
The message wasn’t for her.
Take it to the store.
Summer is fun for us.
Margaret took them downstairs

Possessive pronouns 

Possessive pronouns show who owns something described in a sentence. They include mine, his, hers, its, ours, yours, their, and theirs. Possessive adjectives are similar to possessive pronouns. However, the possessive adjective comes before the object of the sentence; the possessive pronoun is the object of the sentence.

See the difference here:

(i) That is my dog. (possessive adjective, before the object “dog”)
(ii) The dog is mine. (possessive pronoun, which is the object)

Example: That is our clubhouse.
‘Our’ shows the possession of the object ‘clubhouse’.
Gender
Example:  He went to the market.
He is used for the male gender.
Other examples – (his, him, he etc.)
Example:  She is doing the laundry.
‘she’ is used for the female gender.
(Her, hers, etc.)
Example:  It is important to them.
‘It’ is gender-neutral as it shows an object,
 ‘Them’ is also gender-neutral as ‘Them’ can consist of both genders.
Others gender-neutral pronouns are – (Their, they, its.)
Number
Singular Pronoun – where the pronoun is only referring to one specific Noun.
Example: That book belongs to me.
Plural Pronoun – where the pronoun is used to refer to a number of nouns.
Example: That is Their book, not yours.

REFLEXIVE PRONOUN

“They are object pronouns that we use when the subject and the object are the same Noun.”
  • Example: I told myself not to bet all my money on one horse.
  • Example: The robber hurt himself chasing me through the alley.
“Reflexive pronouns are those which are used to indicate a noun which has been used in an earlier part of the same sentence. (myself, themselves, yourself, ourselves, herself, himself, itself.)
Example:
  • She blamed herself for the accident.
  • He is himself today.

EMPHATIC/INTENSIVE PRONOUN

“These pronouns are used to emphasize a noun or pronoun.
(myself, himself, herself, themselves, itself, yourself, yourselves and ourselves.)
Example: He himself is his worst critic.
“These pronouns act as appositives of nouns or pronouns for the sake of emphasis,”
Examples
  • You yourself wrote those words.
  • This request came from the employee themselves.
  • They themselves know that the Prank was in bad taste.
  • Avoid reporting things that you yourself haven’t witnessed.

DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUN

“Demonstrative pronouns are used to show or identify one or a number of nouns that may be far or near in distance or time.
They are only four in number (This, that, these, those)
This, that → Singular demonstrative pronoun
These, those → Plural demonstrative pronouns.
Example: That is a beautiful house.
They can also be used to show an unspecified quantity in a sentence.
Example: These were made by me.
(These is showing an unspecified quantity of something that was made by a person.)
Example: Everyone remembers those days.
(Those is showing a particular time or period of days in the past, it is being used in place of a noun that could be – school, summer, college etc.)
Example: This is what he is charging.
This is used as pronoun in place of a number.
These pronouns point out someone or something.
They are identical in form to demonstrative adjective/determiners.
The difference is that…
→ A demonstrative pronoun stands alone (because it is a substitute for a noun or noun phrase)
→ But a demonstrative adjective is accompanied by the noun it modifies.
Example: She gave me this gift.
(This – demonstrative adjective)
I like this.
(This – demonstrative pronoun)
(More example of demonstrative pronoun)
These are my children.
That is a good idea.
The streets of Delhi are more crowded than those of Mumbai.

INDEFINITE PRONOUN

Indefinite pronouns replace nouns that are not specified. They include the following: all, another, any, anybody, anyone, anything, both, each, either, everybody, everyone, everything, few, many, neither, nobody, none, no one, nothing, one, several, some, somebody, someone, and something.

“These pronouns do stand for some person or thing, but we don’t know for exactly whom.”
When we say, “somebody stole my watch.” (We don’t know to whom the word ‘somebody’ refers to.  The word ‘somebody’ is an indefinite pronoun.
Examples
  • One should speak the truth.
  • Somebody immediately called the doctor.
  • Anybody can solve this problem.
  • Nobody was present.
  • Many are called, but few are chosen.
  • Do good to others.
(Few, all, some, none, everything- indefinite pronouns)

DISTRIBUTIVE PRONOUN

“These Pronouns refer to individual elements in a group or a pair, one individual at a time.”
Examples
  • Each of the boys gets a prize.
  • Either of these roads leads to the railway station.
  • Either of you can go.
  • Neither of the accusations is true.
  • You may bring any of your friends
  • None of our students failed last year.
Each, either, neither is called distributive pronouns because they refer to persons or things, one at a time.
Each →used to denote every one of a number of persons or things taken singly.
Either means the one or the other of two.
Neither means not the one nor the other of two.
It is negative of either.
Either and Neither should be used only in speaking of two persons or things.
When more than two are spoken of (Any, No one, and none) should be used.

RECIPROCAL PRONOUN

Each and one really belong to the subject, Other and another are objects, but Each other and one another have become compound pronouns, (and are called reciprocal pronouns) and are rarely separated even by a preposition)
Examples:    
  • The brothers quarrelled with each other.
  • They all gave evidence against one another.
  • Jamie and Jack always sit beside each other in the break.
  • They haven’t seen one another since last year.

RELATIVE PRONOUN

These pronouns are used to connect a clause or phrase to a noun or pronoun. These are who, whom, which, whoever, whomever, whose, whichever and that.
Example: The driver who Ran the stop sign was careless.
Which and that are generally used for objects. Who and whom are used for people and whose is used to show possession.
Examples:
  • She will choose the color which looks good on everyone
  • She is complaining to whoever she comes across nowadays.
  • There is a car in the parking lot that someone has painted a bright pink.
  • Is there anyone here whose mobile phone has a signal.
  • I met Hari who had just returned.
  • I have found a pen which I lost.
  • There is the book That you lent me.

INTERROGATIVE PRONOUN

Who, whom, which and what are interrogative pronouns as they are used to ask questions about a person or object that we do not know about.
Compounds of these words are made by attaching (–ever) to the words to strengthen the emphasis on the word.
Example:
  • Which one would you like?
  • What is your Name?
  • Who will be managing the bullet?
  • Whom did you tell about this?
  • Whoever could have done this?
  • Whichever one will you choose?
‘Who’ is always the subject of the verb.
‘Whom’ is never the subject of the verb.
It is an object of the verb.
It is used to show the person to or for whom the action is being done.
Example: whom were you meeting with?

Rules and Examples: Pronouns

1. Since a personal pronoun works in place of a noun, the number, gender, and person of the pronoun must be according to the noun only.

Ex.- Ram has lost his books. (Not their)
She loves his husband. (Incorrect)
She loves her husband. (Correct)

2. When two or more singular nouns are joined by ‘And’ the Pronoun for them always in the plural number.

Ex.- Mohan and Sohan have lost his books. (Incorrect)
Mohan and Sohan have lost their books. (Correct)

3. When two or more singular nouns joined by ‘And’ are preceded by ‘Each’ and ‘Every’ the pronoun must be singular.

Ex.- Every student and every teacher took his or her seat.
Each of Ram and Shyam has done his work.
Each man and each boy in the party has got his share.

4. When a singular noun and a plural noun are combined by ‘Or’, ‘Either-or’,  ‘Neither-nor’,  the singular noun usually comes first in the sentence and the pronoun must be in the plural number.

Ex.- Either the manager or his subordinates failed in their duty in sending the official message.

5. When two or more singular nouns are joined by ‘Either-or’, ‘neither- nor’ the pronoun is always in the singular form.
Ex.- Ram or Mohan should invest his money in some business.
Neither Ram nor Shyam confessed his guilt
Either Sita or Kamla forgot to take her prize.

6. ‘Either and neither’ are always used in relation to two things or two persons, for more than two ‘Any’, or ‘None’ must be used.

Ex.- Either of the two girls can pay for it.
Neither of the two brothers has been selected.
Any one of the employees can claim it.
None of the students of this class has passed.

7. When in a sentence ‘one’ is used as the subject, all the pronouns in the sentence must be changed into ‘one’ or one’s and not his, her or him.

Ex.-One should keep one’s promise.
One should do one’s duty.
One must finish one’s task in time.

8. When any pronoun functions as the complement of the verb ‘to be’, it is always in the nominative case.

Ex.- It is me who have to go. (Incorrect)
It is I who have to go. (Correct)

It is him who is to blame. (Incorrect)
It is he who is to blame. (Correct)

It was he who could solve the problem Easily. (Correct)

9. Whenever any pronoun functions as an object of the main verb or a preposition, it is in the objective case.

Ex.- It is for he to consider. (Incorrect)
It is for him to consider. (Correct)

Ask he to go. (Incorrect)
Ask him to go. (Correct)

10. When two singular nouns joined by ‘and’ denote the same person or thing, the pronoun used for them must be singular in number. The article ‘The’ is placed before the first Noun.

Ex.- The accounts officer and treasures should be careful in his work of keeping accounts.

11. When a personal pronoun is connected by a conjunction with some other word in the objective case, it must be in the objective (accusative) case.

Ex.- These clothes are for you and me. (not I)

12. A pronoun should be used in the objective case in a sentence beginning with Let.

Ex.- Let him go to his office
Let her submit the records in time.

13. While confessing a fault (or expressing a negative idea) the sequence of the personal pronouns should be as follows.

I, you and he are in the wrong and will be punished.
[First person first, second person next and third person last]

14. While expressing a positive idea or praise, the sequence of the personal pronouns should be as follows.

You, He and I will get an award for the good work we have done.
[Second person (2), third person (3), and first person (1)]

You, he and I have finished the work.
Ram, I and you have finished our studies. (Incorrect)
You, Ram and I have finished our studies. (Correct)

15. After ‘But’, ‘Except’, ‘Between’ and ‘Let’ the pronoun is used in the objective case.

Ex.-Everyone laughed but I. (Incorrect)
Everyone laughed but me. (Correct)

None attended the meeting except he. (Incorrect)
None attended the meeting except him. (Correct)

Let we laugh away our sorrows. (Incorrect)
Let us laugh away our sorrows. (Correct)

This is between you and I. (Incorrect)
This is between you and me. (Correct)

16. ‘Some’ is used in affirmative sentences to express quantity or degree. ‘Any’ is used in Negative or interrogative sentences.

Ex.-I shall buy some apples.
I shall not buy any apples.

Have you bought any apples?
I shall read any book. (Incorrect)
I shall read some book. (Correct)

17. When a pronoun stands for a collective noun, it must be in the singular number and in the neuter gender if the collective noun is viewed as a whole.
Ex.-The Jury gave its verdict.
The Jury were divided in their opinions.

18. (a) Each other is used for two persons.
Ex.-The two brothers disliked each other.
Romeo and Juliet loved each other.
The two children quarreled with each other.

18.(b) One another is used for more than two persons.
Ex.-Good boys do not quarrel with one another.
All the students of the class are friendly, they like one another.

19. The pronouns who, whom, whose are generally used for persons
Who- Nominative case
Whom- Objective case
Whose-Possessive case

Ex.-Shikha is the student who got an award.
They are the thieves whom the police caught.
This is the student whose certificates are lost.

20.  Use of ‘Which’
(a) For infants, small animals, and objects.
Ex.-This is the baby which was lost in the theater.
This is the dog which my friend bought from the U.S.

(b) When selection is expressed.
Ex.-Which of these television sets do you want to purchase?

(c)To refer to a sentence.
Ex.-He was said to be drunk, which was not true.

21. Uses of ‘That’
(a) For persons, lifeless things and small animals in the singular or in the plural number.
Ex.-This is the girl that failed in the exam.
This is the Radio that I bought Yesterday.

(b) As a substitute for a singular noun already mentioned.
Ex.-The weather of Hyderabad is far better than Chennai. (Wrong)
The weather of Hyderabad is far better than that of Chennai. (Right)

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