Monday, December 26, 2011

Learning the Nine Types of Pronouns

Learning the Nine Types of Pronouns
Understanding and using pronouns correctly can be a challenge because of their many
categories, functions, and confusing names, but success is possible, so read on!

A pronoun is a word such as we, them, or anyone that replaces a noun or another pronoun. Pronouns must match the number and gender of the noun they stand for and be in a case (form) that matches its function. Pronouns have the same functions as nouns: They may act as subjects and subject complements, direct objects, indirect objects, and objects of prepositions. The noun that a pronoun refers to is called the antecedent of the pronoun. In the sentence “George wrote the essay in class and typed it later” the noun essay is the antecedent of the pronoun it. If you cannot point to the antecedent of a pronoun in your writing, you need to change the wording so that your meaning will be clear to the reader.  For more on antecedents as well as number and case agreement, gender bias, and other specific pronoun issues, see other resources. Here is an explanation of the nine types of pronouns:

A. PERSONAL PRONOUNS: Personal pronouns refer to specific persons, places, or things.

1. Subjective Case:  A personal pronoun should be in the subjective case (form) if the pronoun functions as a      subject or subject complement. A subject pronoun usually comes before the verb; a subject complement      pronoun follows a linking verb.
      Singular              Plural                             Examples:
        First person:          I                       we                    We are successful.  (Subject)
        Second person:      you                   you                   They like pizza. (Subject)
        Third person:         he/she/it           they                  The winners were Kim and I.  (Subject                                                                                                               complement)

2. Objective case: If a pronoun stands for any other noun than a subject or subject complement, use                                             the objective case.  Object pronouns can be direct objects (DO), indirect objects (IO), or objects of  
         prepositions (OP).  Notice that you and it are in both lists.

                              Singular               Plural                            Examples:
      First person:            me                   us                    The secretary notified us today. (DO)
      Second person:        you                   you                  My aunt wrote me a letter. (IO)
      Third person:           him/her/it          them                For her, I would do anything.  (OP)

B.  POSSESSIVE PRONOUNS: Possessive pronouns act as adjectives that show ownership. 

      1. These possessive pronouns act as adjectives showing ownership:

       Singular               Plural                           Examples:
                   First person:           my                     our                 My friend found his dog.
                   Second person:       your                   your               Their cat sharpened its claws.
                   Third person:          his/her/its           their
              Note: Do not confuse the pronoun its with the contraction it’s, which means it is.

      2. These possessive pronouns stand for an adjective possessive pronoun plus a noun:

                        Example:  That backpack is mine.  (“mine” = “my backpack”)    

       Singular                Plural                          Example:
                   First person:           mine                  ours               The decision is yours to make.  
                  Second person:       yours                  yours                  (yours = “your decision”)
                   Third person:          his/hers              theirs

C.   INDEFINITE PRONOUNS: Indefinite pronouns are noun substitutes that are not specific   (definite) in meaning.            

            1. Indefinite pronouns fall into two categories:
                        List 1. Pronouns that refer to a non-specific noun:
                                      anybody, anyone, anything, everybody, everyone, everything, nobody,                                                                                 none, no one, nothing, somebody, someone, something 
                                        Example:  Nothing gets accomplished without some effort.
                        List 2. Pronouns that refer to a specific noun whose meaning is clear only because of a previous                                          mention or because of words that follow the indefinite pronoun:
              all, another, any, both, each, either, few, many, neither, one, some, several.
                                        Examples: Several are planning to fly to New York. 
                                                            (The identity of the group that is flying to New York would have                                                                           already been mentioned.)
                                                         Do you want some of these books?
                                                            (Books makes clear the meaning of some.)
                                        Note: The indefinite pronouns in List 2 function simply as adjectives when they are                                                                    are directly followed by nouns.
                                                       Examples: Several students received awards.
                                                                        My mother baked some pies for the picnic.

            2. Indefinite pronouns may be singular or plural. The verbs (underlined) must match in number.   
             another                    neither
             anybody                   nobody          Examples:
             anyone                     no one                   There are four groups of students, 
             anything                  nothing                                   and each has its own assignment.
  Singular             each                                     one                       Something unexpected is happening.
                             either                                   somebody                   
                             everybody               something                       
                             everyone                 someone
                            both                              Examples:
                            few                                       Both of the documents were signed.
 Plural                many                                     Many in the audience agree with the speaker.

                        Note: When these indefinite pronouns are followed by a prepositional phrase, the                 
            pronoun should agree in number with the noun that is the object of the preposition.

 Singular             all           more              Examples:  Some of the planning is finished.        
 or Plural            any         most                                  Some of the apples are ripe.               
(depending on    none                                   Remember that the verb must agree in number with                     
 the noun it         some                                   the bolded antecedent. Planning takes a             
 stands for)                                                    singular verb and “apples” takes a plural verb.                    

D.   RELATIVE PRONOUNS: A relative pronoun connects (relates) an adjective clause or a noun
            clause to the rest of the sentence.

            1. Relative pronouns that introduce adjective clauses:        When a relative pronoun introduces an   adjective clause, the pronoun refers to a noun already mentioned in the main clause of the sentence.           

                                    who          whose          whom        which             that       
                        Examples (Adjective clauses are underlined):
                                        The mystery novel that she recently completed will be published next year.
                                             (That refers back to novel and acts as a direct object in the adjective clause.)
                                                    Healing is more rapid for patients who have a positive attitude.
                                             (Who refers back to patients and acts as the subject of the adjective clause.)

            2. Relative pronouns that introduce noun clauses:

                         who               whom              what               which             whose
                        whoever        whomever        whatever         whichever            that

                Within a sentence, a noun clause may function as a subject, complement, appositive, or object of a verb                  or preposition. The relative pronoun acts as a subject or object within the noun clause, though                                     the normal word order may be changed. Note: Who and whoever are used as subject pronouns, and                    whom and whomever are used as object pronouns. (Noun clauses are underlined.)
                        Examples: Whoever uses the kitchen should wash the dishes. (The noun clause is the                                                                  subject of the sentence. Whoever is the subject of the noun clause.)         
                                         The criminal got what he deserved. (The noun clause is the direct object of the verb                                                  got. Within the noun clause, what is the direct object of the verb deserved,                                                                       even though it comes before the verb.)

E.   INTERROGATIVE PRONOUNS: An interrogative pronoun introduces a question.
                          who               whom               what                which                whose  
                        whoever         whomever           whatever         whichever       
                Notice the similarity of this list to the relative pronoun list. Like relative pronouns,                                                  interrogative pronouns can have different grammatical functions. As in all questions, the word                                   order may not be normal.

                        Examples:  Whose books are those? (adjective modifying books)
                                          Whom will Mr. Broder select as head of the committee? (direct object of
                                               the verb will select)
                                          In which of his two poems does the author express himself most
                                               effectively? (object of the preposition in)

F.   DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS: The four demonstrative pronouns point out nouns. They often
            act as 1.) adjectives, indicating which person(s), places(s), or thing(s) are being referred to or as
            2.) noun substitutes when the noun is understood.

                        this              that           these           those

                        Examples:  These problems are easy to solve. (adjective modifying problems)
                                          Do you like this wallpaper?  (adjective modifying wallpaper)                                                                              You like these apples, but I prefer those. (These acts as an adjective modifying         
                                                apples; those acts as a pronoun that stands for the noun apples.)
G.  INTENSIVE  PRONOUNS: Intensive pronouns emphasize nouns or other pronouns. They                      immediately follow the noun they emphasize. If an intensive pronoun is omitted, the sentence
            will still make sense grammatically.

            Singular:        myself                    yourself                      himself       herself       itself
            Plural:           ourselves              yourselves                                  themselves

                        Examples: The bank president himself called to apologize for the error.
                                                (Himself  emphasizes president.)
                                          She herself was not as concerned as others were about the problem.
                                                (Herself emphasizes she.)

H.  REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS: Reflexive pronouns rename subjects of action verbs. They         function as various types of objects. If the reflexive pronoun is omitted, the sentence will
            not make sense. Note that the following list is the same as the list of intensive pronouns above.

            Singular:          myself                   yourself                         himself      herself      itself
            Plural:            ourselves               yourselves                                    themselves
                        Examples:  The logger cut himself with his ax.  (direct object of the verb cut)
                                          Kim poured herself a cup of coffee.  (indirect object of the verb cut)
                                          The old man was talking loudly to himself.  (object of the preposition to)

I.  RECIPROCAL PRONOUNS: Reciprocal pronouns refer to individual parts of a preceding
            plural noun.
                                                each other             one another
                        Examples:  The children waved goodbye to each other as they parted.
                                          The students helped one another study before the test.

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