Pronouns. Free English Lesson with Test and Certificate.
Advanced English Pronouns study for SAT, IELTS, TESOL and other exams.
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How to use advanced pronouns in English
An important use of pronouns is to replace nouns, so that sentences become clearer. So instead of saying, "I went to the house and the house was empty," you would say, "I went to the house and it was empty." Pronouns also help you understand the gender and number of people or things being talked about. For example, "she is quiet," or "they are quiet".
This lesson covers twelve different types of pronouns. Good luck with them!
Your English lesson about advanced pronouns in English
Welcome to the advanced Pronouns lesson!
Although basic pronouns are taught when you begin learning English, this 'masterclass' lesson contains some advanced pronoun topics.
In this lesson, we will cover the many different types and uses of pronouns. As with most grammar rules you will study, it might seem very confusing at first. However, if you start to listen for these pronouns and practice using them in your writing and speaking, you will start to see that you have probably been using pronouns without even thinking about it.
This is important anytime you are feeling frustrated about the idea of needing to remember many grammar rules. It’s good to know that if you continue to practice using the rule, it will start to come naturally for you. Let’s start the lesson!
At a basic level, pronouns stand for or refer to a noun that is usually made clear earlier in the text. However, there are many different types of pronouns, and as you will see, there are many advanced ways to use these words in your speaking and writing.
1. Personal Pronouns - a reminder of the basics
A personal pronoun is a pronoun that is associated primarily with a particular person, in the grammatical sense.
When discussing “person” in terms of grammar, the following rules apply:
First person, as in “I”
Second person, as in “you”
Third person, as in “it, he, she”
First person refers to the speaker or writer ("I" for singular, "we" for plural).
Second person refers to the person or people being spoken or written to ("you" for both singular and plural).
Third person refers to the person or people being spoken or written about ("he," "she," and "it" for singular, "they" for plural).
Personal pronouns may take on a few different forms depending on number (singular or plural). They may also take different forms depending on case and gender. It is important to note that personal pronouns may refer to objects, animals, or people.
Personal pronouns provide us with the following information:
The person – Who is speaking?
The number – Is the pronoun plural or singular?
The gender – Is the pronoun feminine, masculine, or neither?
Examples of Personal Pronouns:
The word “he” is an example of a personal pronoun. He is third person (because he is the person being spoken about), singular, and masculine. The word “we” is another example of a personal pronoun. We is first person (because we are speaking as a group), plural, and neutral (neither masculine nor feminine).
You need to stop lying to me.
We would love for you to join us.
Unlike English nouns, which usually do not change form except for the addition of an -s ending to create the plural or the apostrophe + s to create the possessive, personal pronouns (which stand for persons or things) change form according to their various uses within a sentence.
I is used as the subject of a sentence (I am happy).
Me is used as an object in many different ways (He hit me. He gave me a book. Do this for me).
My is used as the possessive form (That's my car).
The same is true of the other personal pronouns: the singular you and he/she/it and the plural we, you, and they. These forms are called cases.
Each person can change form, reflecting its use within a sentence. Thus, "I" becomes "me" when used as an object ("She left me") and "my" when used in its possessive role (That's my car"); "they" becomes "them" in object form ("I like them") and "their" in possessive ("That's their classroom").
2. Subject Pronouns
A subject pronoun is exactly what it sounds like: a pronoun that takes the place of a noun as the subject of a sentence.
Examples of Subject Pronouns:
The subject, or subjective, pronouns are easy to remember: I, you, she, he, it, they, and we. These pronouns are used to replace the name of a person, animal, or object, and to do the action suggested by the verb in the sentence.
Should we go swimming before or after lunch?
I really like pizza.
It is easy to understand.
Would you prefer hot cocoa or peppermint tea?
They all lived happily ever after.
3. Object Pronouns
An object pronoun is a type of personal pronoun that is normally used as the object in a sentence, either as the direct or indirect object of a verb, or as the object of a preposition. These pronouns always take the objective case, whether they are indirect object pronouns or direct object pronouns.
Objective pronouns are: Me, him, her, us, it, you, them, whom, and what. While some of these pronouns are the same as subject pronouns, they are used differently in sentences.
Sounds complicated? Here are some examples of Object Pronouns
I want her to listen.
Stop laughing at me.
I told him to stay home and study.
When a personal pronoun is connected by a conjunction to another noun or pronoun, its case does not change. We would write:
I am taking an English class.
If a friend called Jane is also taking that course, we would write:
Jane and I are taking an English class.
Notice that Jane gets listed before "I" does as a way of being polite. The same is true when the object form is used:
My brother gave all his books to me.
If Jane also received some books, we'd write:
My brother gave all his books to Jane and me.
When a pronoun and a noun are combined (which will happen with the plural first- and second-person pronouns), choose the case of the pronoun that would be appropriate if the noun were not there. Look at the following examples:
We (the pronoun) students (the noun) think that you are giving us too much homework.
With the second person, we don't really have a problem because the subject form is the same as the object form, "you":
You students are lazy. You students need to work harder.
4. Nominative Possessive Pronoun
The nominative possessive is another pronoun form (mine, yours, ours, theirs). This pronoun form is used to name what belongs to someone.
My car is red. Mine is the red car.
Their science project is really good. Theirs is the one about volcanoes.
Can I borrow your jacket? There are a lot of jackets here. Which one is yours?
5. Demonstrative Pronouns
A demonstrative pronoun is a pronoun that is used to point to something specific within a sentence. They can indicate items in space or in time, and they can be either singular or plural.
Because there are only a few demonstrative pronouns in the English language, there is just one rule for using them correctly. Remember it and you will have no problems ...
Demonstrative pronouns always identify nouns, whether the nouns are named specifically or not.
“I can’t believe this.”
We have no idea what “this” is, but it’s definitely something the writer cannot believe. It exists, even though we don’t know what it is.
Demonstrative pronouns can be used in place of a noun, so long as the noun being replaced can be understood from the pronoun’s context. Look at the following examples.
This is my mother’s car.
That looks like the car I used to drive.
These are nice shoes.
Those shoes look nicer on you than then do on me.
None of these answers are correct.
Neither of the singers were very good.
Some demonstrative pronouns (this/that/these/those/such) can act as pronouns or as determiners.
As pronouns, they identify or point to nouns.
That is incredible!
(referring to something you just saw)
I will never forget this.
(referring to a recent experience)
Such is my belief.
(referring to an explanation just made)
As determiners, the demonstratives work like an adjective and modify a noun that comes after it. Usually the choice of demonstratives will communicate a distance or time. Look at the following examples to see what I mean.
These hamburgers (sitting here now on my plate) are delicious.
Those hamburgers (that I had yesterday) were even better.
This hamburger (right here in my hand) is delicious.
That hamburger (over there, on the table) looks old.
In addition, a sense of disdain or displeasure can be communicated with the demonstrative pronouns:
You're going to wear those?
This is the best you can do?
Pronouns used in this way would be stressed in a spoken sentence. In other words, we would say these words more loudly. For example, “That is your new hat?”, "You are going to wear those bright orange shoes to the restaurant?".
6. Indefinite Pronouns
The indefinite pronouns
do not substitute for specific nouns … but they themselves act as nouns.
Everyone is wondering who got the highest score.
Many people say that "everybody" feels that it should refer to more than one person, but it takes a singular verb.
Everybody is ready for dinner.
It is helpful to think of this word as meaning "every single body”.
The indefinite pronoun none is nearly always plural (meaning "not any"). However, if it is used with an uncountable noun, we can use it as a singular. For example:
None of the food is fresh.
None of the sand on the beach is cool enough to walk on.
Similarly, some can be singular or plural depending on whether it refers to something countable or uncountable.
Some people are really good at speaking English. (plural)
Some food in the refrigerator is not mine. (singular)
Some cars are really expensive. (plural)
Some salt in your diet is okay. (singular)
There are other indefinite pronouns that can also be used as determiners:
enough, few, fewer, less, little, many, much, several, more, most, all, both, every, each, any, either, neither, none, some
You have done more than enough to help.
There are few people I trust more than Franklin.
There are fewer clouds in the sky today.
I have less money than I thought.
There is little you could say to make me feel better.
There are many who think French food is the best in the world.
There is much to learn when studying a foreign language.
I have several sweaters at home.
Would you like more coffee?
He drank most of the coffee.
She ate all of the cake.
I like both coffee and tea.
Every sweater in the shop was too small.
The shop didn’t have any sweaters left.
You can have either tea or coffee.
I like neither tea nor coffee.
I wanted a new sweater but none were left.
Would you like some cake with your coffee?
7. Relative Pronouns
The relative pronouns (who/whoever/which/that) relate groups of words to nouns or other pronouns. Look at the following examples:
The student who studies hardest usually does the best.
The word who connects the subject (e.g., student) to the verb (e.g., studies).
The car that is parked in front of my house isn’t mine.
Whoever threw that stone broke my window.
English, which is my favorite subject, is taught every day in school.
8. Indefinite Relative Pronouns
The indefinite relative pronouns are whoever, whomever, and whatever. These pronouns are used when we are not referring to a specific noun. Look at the following examples to get a better idea of how this works:
The teacher will select whomever he pleases to speak in front of the class.
He said whatever came to mind.
Whoever gets the highest score will win a prize.
In addition to the above pronouns, the word what can also be used as an indefinite relative pronoun:
He told you what you wanted to hear.
9. Intensive Pronouns
The intensive pronouns
(such as myself, yourself, herself, ourselves, themselves)
consist of a personal pronoun plus self or selves and it is used to emphasize (or intensify) a noun.
I myself don't know the answer.
He himself finished cleaning up.
You yourself thought that it was a good idea.
10. Reflexive Pronouns
The reflexive pronouns
(myself, yourself, herself, himself, ourselves, themselves)
show that the sentence subject also receives the action of the verb.
Students who don’t study hard are hurting themselves.
Did you pay yourself for the job?
She talked to herself.
We gave ourselves a pay rise.
They gave themselves a pay rise.
The indefinite pronoun, one, has its own reflexive form:
One must have confidence in oneself
Other indefinite pronouns use either himself, herself, or themselves as reflexives.
No one here can blame himself or herself.
The people here cannot blame themselves.
11. Interrogative Pronouns
The interrogative pronouns (who/which/what) introduce questions:
Who will help me?
Which do you prefer?
What is that?
Which is usually used to refer to specific things within a group.
What can be used in a more general situation.
Look at the following examples:
What is your favorite kind of food?
In other words, in general, what kind of food do you like? Do you like Thai food, Italian food, Indian food, etc.?
Which is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
This question is looking for a specific answer. In the narrow category of ice creams, which of this group do you like the best?
The interrogative pronouns can also act as determiners:
It doesn't matter which movie we watch.
We don't know whose glasses these are.
In this determiner role, they are sometimes called interrogative adjectives.
Just like the relative pronouns, the interrogative pronouns can introduce noun clauses and they act as the subject in the clauses.
The teacher knows who studied for the test.
I told you yesterday what I know about the test.
12. Reciprocal Pronouns
The reciprocal pronouns are each other and one another.
Mike and Jill gave each other candy.
If Mike gave Jill some candy and Jill gave Mike some candy, we can say that they gave each other candy.
The soccer team gave one another candy after the game.
If more than two people are involved, we could also say that they gave one another candy.
Lastly, reciprocal pronouns can also take possessive forms:
They borrowed each other's toys.
The students often use one another's notes.
That’s the end of the advanced pronouns lesson. We hope you didn’t find it too complicated.
It’s story time
Now that we’ve learned a lot about pronouns, let’s see how they are used in a short story. As you read the following story, pay attention to how the pronouns are used.
Sue grew up in a very poor family in Thailand. Those were very hard times, but she still has many good memories. At the age of 9, Sue was given two dogs. She could have named them whatever she wanted, and she chose the names Drink and Park. She decided that she was old enough to take care of them herself.
She doesn’t remember who gave her the dogs, but whoever gave them to her wasn’t thinking very clearly. Of course, she loved those dogs, but everyone knew that her family was very poor. They could barely afford to take care of themselves let alone feed two dogs.
Each day before school, Sue’s mother gave her money to buy lunch. But, almost every day, Sue skipped lunch and bought food for her dogs instead. She herself would go hungry because she loved those dogs so much. Sometimes Sue’s mother would find out, and she would punish Sue for wasting what little money they had on the dogs. Sue was helping the dogs, but she was hurting herself. She was losing weight, but the dogs that she loved were themselves well fed.
In the end, Sue’s mother gave the dogs away to a rich family that lived far away. Sue was heartbroken. She cried herself to sleep thinking about them. One day, she was walking home from school, and who did she see? You guessed it! Drink and Park had run away from their new home, and they had walked all the way back to her home.
Everyone who heard the story could hardly believe it. These two dogs, who belonged to the poor girl, had walked all the way back to her. None of the people in the neighborhood could understand why those dogs had struggled to get back to the skinny poor girl.
That’s the end of the lesson on advanced pronouns.
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