Different Types of Pronouns in English

Different Types of Pronouns in English

different-types-of-pronounsA pronoun is an important part of speech. A Pronoun is a word that takes the place of a common noun or proper noun. A word can be a pronoun only if it substitutes a noun

The number of pronouns in English is very small, and it is, therefore, possible to treat them as a separate class with some special characteristics. Unlike the classes of nouns, the class of pronouns is closed, i.e. no new pronouns can be added to this class. Further, their functions are largely grammatical: they serve to identify the number, person, case gender, etc. but beyond that, they do not tell us anything about the characteristics of the person, object, etc. they refer to, as, for example, nouns do. Hence pronouns are treated as function (structure) words like articles, prepositions, etc. Their only additional characteristic is that they behave like nouns.

Pronouns can replace noun phrases and not just single nouns. For example, let us look at the sentences:

The brilliant actor came on the stage. He received a thunderous ovation.

Here the pronoun 'he' refers not just to the actor but the noun phrase 'the brilliant actor'.

The noun phrase to which the pronoun refers is called its antecedent.

Types of Pronouns

Based on their grammatical function pronouns are grouped into the following types: 

Personal Pronouns
Possessive Pronouns
Reflexive Pronouns
Emphatic Pronouns
Reciprocal Pronouns
Demonstrative Pronouns
Indefinite Pronouns
Compound Indefinite Pronouns
Interrogative Pronouns 
relative pronouns and 

Let us discuss each of the different types of pronouns in detail.

Personal Pronouns

Pronouns that talk about people are called personal pronouns. They refer to persons, even though the pronoun 'it' is considered a personal pronoun.
Examples: I, me, you, he, him, she, her, it, we, us, they, them.

My name is David. I am the youngest in the family.

This is my motherShe is a lawyer.

I have a dog. It is called Lucky.

My mother is kind, Everybody likes her.

You must not play with the knife. Give it to me.
Possessive Pronouns

Parallel to the personal pronouns, there are two sets of possessive pronouns in English.

Personal Pronouns         Possessive Pronouns

      I                                            my                        mine
      we                                         our                       ours
      you                                        your                     yours
      he                                          his                        his
      she                                        her                       hers
      it                                                                         its
      they                                       their                    theirs

Note, however, that the forms under A are used only attributively, that is, as pre-head modifiers of nouns whereas those under B get used as heads only.
This is my book.
This book is mine.

The two forms of possessive pronouns are not synonymous in all contexts. For example,
This is our house.
This house is ours.
This is our house merely states a fact but This house is ours often represents an assertion.

Reflexive Pronouns

A reflexive pronoun refers back to the subject of the sentence. It can also be used to give more emphasis to the subject or the object.

Reflexive pronouns are object pronouns that we use when the subject and object are the same nouns.

The words myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves and themselves are called reflexive pronouns.


I made this cake myself.

Be careful with the knife. You'll cut yourself.

Baby birds are too young to look after themselves.

Michael is looking at himself in the mirror.

Susan has hurt herself.
Emphatic Pronouns

An emphatic pronoun is a type of pronoun that is used to emphasize the subject or object of a sentence.

Examples: himself, herself, yourself, themselves, ourselves.

He himself is responsible for the situation.

Jennifer sewed her dress herself.

We built a garden by ourselves.

We saw the king himself.

The dog licked itself.

They themselves are not ready to turn down the volume of the music.
Reciprocal Pronouns

The two reciprocal pronouns are each other and one another. Each other is generally used for two and one another is generally used for more than two.

Sentence examples:

He was so afraid that his knees knocked each other. (It is obvious that he has two knees.)

The office staff members wished one another Happy New Year. (it is obvious that office staff members will be more than two.)
The reciprocal pronouns (each other/one another) express a two-way relation. 

This can be between two noun phrases:

Rita and Gopal like each other.
(= Gopal likes Rita and Rita likes Gopal)

or between/among the members of a group:

The men shot each other.
The speakers praised each other.

Demonstrative Pronouns

The words this, these, that and those are called demonstrative pronouns. They are showing words.

This is my house.

These are sheep.

Those are goats.

Hi, Jane! This is Michael!

That is a mountain.

What are those?

We can do better than that.

Hello, is that you, George?

Indefinite pronouns

The chief among indefinite pronouns are: some, any, every, each, all, both, either, neither, none, one and no. Besides these, there are a few other items, less complex in their usage: many, much, few, a few, little, a little.


Will you have some coffee?

Is there any coffee left?

We enjoyed every minute of the play.

Each of the girls got a prize.

You are complaining all the time.

Both the candidates were rejected.

There are shops on either side.

Neither account is true.

I like none of them.

You can make one more try.

It's no problem.

Compound Indefinite Pronouns

The compound indefinite pronouns are:
somebody                 someone                   something
anybody                    anyone                      anything
everybody                 everyone                   everything
nobody                      no one                       nothing

The forms with body and thing should be distinguished from cases where some/any/every/no function as determiners.

Somebody called.

The police have recovered some bodies from the well.

The distinction between the forms with some and the forms with any are the same.

Someone came looking for you.

Did anyone come looking for me?

Interrogative pronouns

The words who, whom, whose, what and which are called interrogative pronouns.
These types of pronouns are used to ask questions.
Who is he talking to?
Who are those people?

Whom are you playing with?
Whom is he talking to?

Which of these bags is yours?
Which do you prefer?

Whose is this umbrella?
Whose are these gloves?

What is your dog's name?
What are you talking about?
What is the time?

Who can be used as the object of a verb as well as the subject.
Whom is used only as the object. For example:
Who are you playing with?
Whom are you playing with?

Relative Pronouns
Relative pronouns are used in place of nouns which are mentioned previously. They may be people, place, thing or idea and can be used to join two sentences. 

The most common relative pronouns are who, whom, which, whomever, whichever, whose, and that. In some situations, the words what, when, and where can also function as relative pronouns. 
Sentence examples:

The cyclist who won the race trained hard.

The police needed details that could help to identify the robber.

This is the place where we met. 

I hope this explanation will help you to understand the different types of pronouns better.
Next Post »