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Pronouns

Pronouns are words to substitute or replace nouns. They come in many forms and their main/fundamental forms are; subject, object and possessive pronouns. Any of a small set of words in a language that are used as substitutes for nouns or noun phrases and whose referents are named or understood in the context -Merriam Webster 

Now, we’ll proceed to elaborate and delve into all of them, with examples to follow.

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 being 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 potato.
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 functions 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 the noun
  • 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 about 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 being qualified or modified by the possessive adjectives. 

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

Essential English Grammar – A Friendly Approach

Lesson #3: Pronouns

Explanation

Pronouns are words that we use to replace nouns. In English, we have subject, object and possessive pronouns.

Subject pronouns 

What are subject pronouns exactly? Pronouns are words we use in English to substitute nouns. So, instead of using a noun, we replace it with a pronoun to avoid redundancy and have less repetitiveness. Subject pronouns are the subject of the sentence, not the object. I.e., I like sports. I is the subject, and the subject pronoun. Sports is the object of the sentence. We can replace sports with the object pronoun, them.

I   We 
You  You (plural) 
He/she/it  They 
Context
  • Hi, how are you?
  • I am1 fine, thanks.
  • Is it a nice day today?
  • Yes, it2 certainly is.
  • Do you have any friends?
  • Yes, two friends. They are called Jessica and David.
  • Do they both study English?
  • No, David3 is studying Chinese, and he really likes it. Jessica is studying French, and she doesn’t really like it.
  • Do you guys4 want to go back home?
  • Sure, let’s go.
Analysis
  1. Note, all the subject pronouns are underlined.
  2. The subject pronouns replace or substitute the nouns in the sentences/questions, but only as the subject of the sentence or question.
  3. David: is the subject of the sentence. David can be replaced with the subject pronoun, he.
  4. Guys: is common in English when we want to use the plural ‘’you’’ form. We do this so that we can distinguish between singular and plural.

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