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Pronouns are words used to substitute or replace nouns. They come in many forms, and their fundamental forms are subject, object, and possessive pronouns. Understanding pronouns is crucial when you learn the English language, as they play a pivotal role in effective communication. By mastering these pronouns, individuals can communicate more clearly and precisely, enhancing their language skills.

Subject pronouns: I, you, he/she/it, we, you, they

  • I will go to Switzerland this Easter.
  • You and Carly and my best friends. (‘You‘ refers to the person accompanied by Carly, therefore, ‘you and Carly’ is the subject of the sentence, hence the subject pronoun, ‘you‘) (Never say ‘You and me’ when describing the subjects, because ‘me’ is an object pronoun and this is widely considered incorrect).
  • I like her. She could come along if she so wanted.
  • He is an absolute brat.
  • We will meet you all at 20:00h.
  • You guys/you all/Y’all best get going now. (In English the second person plural of ‘you‘ is the same as the singular so most people in informal occasions will say ‘you guys’ (UK) and ‘Y‘all’ (USA). Or just ‘you’ which is more formal.
  • They love mashed potatoes.

Object pronouns: me, you, him/her/it, us, you, them

  • Daniel and Sally are good people and they adore me. (Here, ‘Daniel and Sally’ are the subjects of the sentence and ‘me‘ is the object of the sentence, hence the object pronoun).
  • My boss likes you and will keep you on board.
  • I like him. Harry is a really nice guy. (note that ‘him‘, being the object of the sentence refers to ‘Harry’).
  • Gemma is a lovely person. My colleagues will love her.
  • Can we get this new television? Yeah, let’s get it.
  • Do they find us to be good partners?
  • My friend thinks you/you guys/Y’all should check the new bar out.
  • Let’s try to locate them, they’ve been gone for ages.

Possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns

Possessive adjectives: my, your, his/her/its, our, your, their. These are adjectives and function as possessive adjectives.

They have been included in the list because they are normally grouped together with subject, object and possessive pronouns.

Remember that all adjectives qualify or modify nouns

  • I do really enjoy spending my time with you.
  • Your birthday is coming up, what would you like?
  • His name is Jack.
  • Her favourite thing to do is ride horses.
  • We had fun with the play station, its graphics were amazing. (Avoid making the error of confusing the possessive adjective ‘its’ with ‘it’s’ with a comma, this is very much incorrect).
  • Our favourite past-time includes going for nice, long walks.
  • Your (plural) ways of doing things haven’t been the most productive.
  • We love the Beatles. Their music is outstanding, really is.

Words highlighted in red indicate nouns. The nouns are qualified or modified by the possessive adjectives. 

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Possessive pronouns: mine, yours, his/hers, ours, yours, theirs

  • This is my car and it’s mine, nobody else’s.
  • Is this sweet apple pie yours, Dorothy?
  • Are those keys his or Jeremy’s? (‘his‘ is the possessive pronoun referring to the other person, say for example ‘Jessica’ Thus if you substituted ‘his‘ for the noun ‘Jessica’ then you would have to say ‘Jessica’s’ in reference to the keys. (‘s) is the possessive form. Note if the noun were possessive or ends in ‘s’ you must use the (s’) form instead, to denote plurality)
  • Are those new bikes the clubs’? No, they’re hers. *note the (s’) as cited above. 
  • Don’t touch our painting! It is ours!
  • Congratulations! The job is yours!  You begin on Monday.
  • Do you admire their work? Of course, I really admire theirs.

Possessive adjectives qualify or modify nouns while possessive pronouns replace nouns:

  • We detest his new purchase. ‘His’ = possessive adjective.
  • Is that phone David’s? Yes, it is his. ‘His’ = possessive pronoun.

Also note that the possessive pronoun ‘his’ takes the same form as its homonym counterpart, the possessive adjective ‘his’. You can differentiate them by context.

See also