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Everything You Need to Know About English Pronouns

What’s a pronoun? 

A pronoun is a word that you use to replace a noun or a noun phrase. That’s simple enough, isn’t it? 

Sure, sometimes!

Other times, though, using pronouns can be more complex. There are several different English pronouns used in various situations.

Below, we explain the English pronouns and how to use them!

Personal pronouns

A personal pronoun is one that’s used to describe a specific person or thing. There are two kinds of personal pronouns: subject and object.

Subject personal pronouns 

A subject personal pronoun takes the place of a noun as the subject of a sentence. 

Singular

  • I (first person)
  • you (second person)
  • he/she/it (third person)

Plural

  • we (first person)
  • you (second person)
  • they* (third person)

*They is also used as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun (when there is no specific gender or if the gender isn’t known).

Here are some examples of how to use subject personal pronouns:

→ You went to the grocery store and all you bought were cookies?

He studies at the local university. 

→ They aren’t home right now. 

Object personal pronouns

An object personal pronoun replaces a noun as the object of a sentence.

Singular

  • me (first person)
  • you (second person)
  • him/her/it (third person)

Plural

  • us (first person)
  • you (second person)
  • them* (third person)

*Them is also used as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun (when there is no specific gender or if the gender isn’t known).

Here are some examples of how to use object pronouns:

→ Did Maria really tell her my secret? 

→ Our boss gave us a bonus this quarter. 

→ Come see our new puppy! We adopted it last week.

Possessive pronouns

Possessive pronouns are words that show possession (ownership).

Singular

  • mine (first person)
  • yours (second person)
  • his/hers/its (third person)

Plural

  • ours (first person)
  • yours (second person)
  • theirs* (third person)

*Theirs is also used as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun (when there is no specific gender or if the gender isn’t known).

Here are some examples of how to use possessive pronouns: 

→ That blue jacket is yours, isn’t it?

→ Can you move, please? These seats are ours

→ The big, fancy house on the corner is theirs.

Demonstrative pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are used to point something out, whether the item is near or far. 

Singular

  • This (near)
  • That (far)

Plural

  • These (near)
  • Those (far)

Here are some examples of how to use demonstrative pronouns:

→ Where do you think that airplane is going?

→ I made these cookies just for you!

→ Look across the street! Are those guys fighting? 

Indefinite pronouns

Indefinite pronouns do not refer to a specific person, place, or thing.

For people

  • anybody/anyone
  • somebody/someone
  • nobody/no one
  • everybody/everyone

For things

  • nothing
  • anything
  • something
  • everything

For countable nouns 

  • few/fewer
  • several
  • many
  • others

For uncountable nouns

  • little 
  • less
  • least

Here are some examples of how to use indefinite pronouns:

→ Do you think anybody will be at the party tonight?

→ I need to go shopping—everything in my house looks old and worn. 

→ My daughter has made several new friends at school. 

Relative pronouns

Relative pronouns are used to introduce a relative clause. In other words, they refer to nouns in a sentence that have already been mentioned. 

  • who/whom
  • which
  • that
  • whose

Here are some examples of how to use relative pronouns:

→ Is that the teacher who got angry at you for being late?

→ That’s the car that almost hit me!

→ Have you met that woman whose kids all have the same hairstyle? 

Interrogative pronouns

Interrogative pronouns are used to ask questions.

  • who/whom
  • which/what*
  • whose

*Which and what are very often used the same way; however, which can be used in more formal, specific questions where a choice is given.

Here are some examples of how to use interrogative pronouns: 

→ Who are you inviting over for dinner tonight? 

→ What is your favourite movie? 

→ We have coffee and tea. Which would you prefer? 

Reflexive pronouns

Reflexive pronouns are used when the object is the same as the subject; they refer back to the subject.

Singular

  • myself (first person)
  • yourself (second person)
  • himself/herself/itself (third person)

Plural

  • ourselves (first person)
  • yourselves (second person)
  • themselves* (third person)

*Themselves is also used as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun (when there is no specific gender or if the gender isn’t known).

Here are some examples of how to use reflexive pronouns:

→ You look like you’re in pain. Did you hurt yourself

→ I give myself a treat every time I finish studying a chapter in my textbook.

→ They accidentally locked themselves in the bathroom. 

Reciprocal pronouns

Reciprocal pronouns are used when two or more people do the same action toward the other person/people. 

  • each other (two people)
  • one another (more than two people)

Here are some examples of how to use reciprocal pronouns:

→ My parents don’t give each other gifts for their birthdays. 

→ When employees help one another, everyone can reach their goals more easily. 

Intensive pronouns

Intensive pronouns look like reflexive pronouns, but they’re used differently. They add emphasis by referring back to a noun or pronoun. 

Singular

  • myself (first person)
  • yourself (second person)
  • himself/herself/itself (third person)

Plural

  • Ourselves (first person)
  • Yourselves (second person)
  • Themselves* (third person)

*Themselves is also used as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun (when there is no specific gender or if the gender isn’t known).

Here are some examples of how to use intensive pronouns:

→ My six-year-old son made the entire dinner himself!

→ I don’t want to speak to an assistant—I would like to talk to the president herself!

→ I myself like to start my day with a big breakfast. 

Get the help you need 

Still feeling like you need some extra help? Get in touch with Gabby today to learn more about improving your English skills!

Andrea is a Gabby Academy coach and education technolgy writer based in Vancouver, Canada.