Pronouns

Definition - A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. Pronouns can be in one of three cases: Subject, Object, or Possessive.

Rule 1

Subject pronouns are used when the pronoun is the subject of the sentence. You can remember subject pronouns easily by filling in the blank subject space for a simple
sentence.

Example

______ did the job.
I, you, he, she, it, we, and they all fit into the blank and are, therefore, subject pronouns.

Rule 2

Subject pronouns are also used if they rename the subject. They follow "to be" verbs such as is, are, was, were, am, and will be.

Examples

It is he.
This is she speaking.
It is we who are responsible for the decision to downsize.

Note

In spoken English, most people tend to follow "to be" verbs with object pronouns. Many English teachers support (or at least have given in to) this distinction between written and spoken English.
Example It could have been them.
Better It could have been they.
Example It is just me at the door.
Better It is just I at the door.

Rule 3

Object pronouns are used everywhere else (direct object, indirect object, object of the preposition). Object pronouns are me, you, him, her, it, us, and them.

Examples

Jean talked to him.
Are you talking to me?

Rule 4

To be able to choose pronouns correctly, you must learn to identify clauses. A clause is a group of words containing a verb and subject. A strong clause can stand on its own.

Examples

She is hungry.
I am feeling well today.

Rule 4a

A weak clause begins with words such as although, since, if, when, and because. Weak clauses cannot stand on their own.

Examples

Although she is hungry...
If she is hungry...
Since I am feeling well...

Rule 4b

If a sentence contains more than one clause, isolate the clauses so that you can decide if the pronoun is a subject or an object.

Example

WEAK STRONG
[Although she is hungry,] [she will give him some of her food.]
[Although this gift is for him,] [I would like you to have it too.]

Rule 5

To decide whether to use the Subject or Object pronoun after the words than or as, mentally complete the sentence.

Examples

Tom is as smart as she/her.
If we mentally complete the sentence, we would say, "Tom is as smart as she is." Therefore, she is the correct answer.
Zoe is taller than I/me.
Mentally completing the sentence, we have, "Zoe is taller than I am."
Daniel would rather talk to her than I/me.
We can mentally complete this sentence in two ways: Daniel would rather talk to her than to me. OR Daniel would rather talk to her than I would. As you can see, the meaning will change depending on the pronoun you choose.

Rule 6

Possessive Pronouns show ownership and never need apostrophes.
Possessive Pronouns: mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, theirs

Note

The only time it's has an apostrophe is when it is a contraction for it is.

Examples

It's a cold morning.
The thermometer reached its highest reading.

Rule 7

The following examples demonstrate pitfalls to avoid when using possessive pronouns.

Correct

Not one of the neighbours offered his/her support.
None of the neighbours offered their support.
Remember that none is a portion word and becomes singular or plural depending on the noun after of (the object of the preposition). None is plural here because of neighbours.

Incorrect

Not one of the neighbours offered their support.

Rule 8

Reflexive pronouns - myself, himself, herself, itself, themselves, ourselves, yourself, yourselves- should be used only when they refer back to another word in the sentence.

Correct

I did it myself.

Incorrect

My brother and myself did it.
The word myself does not refer back to another word.

Correct

My brother and I did it.

Incorrect

Please give it to John or myself.

Correct

Please give it to John or me.

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