The prefix pro means for. A pronoun is a substitute for a noun.

Marvella said her application for college has been approved.

Marvella said, "My application for college has been approved."

In the first sentence above the personal pronoun her is a substitute for the proper noun Marvella. Were pronouns unavailable it would be necessary to say: Marvella said Marvella's application for college has been approved.

In the second sentence Marvella has been quoted. Marvella used the personal pronoun my as a substitute for her name. Try making Marvella's statement without a pronoun.

personal pronoun

I have tickets for a movie. (first person, singular, nominative case)

They gave me the task. (first person, singular, objective case)

The pleasure is mine. (first person, singular, possessive case).

You should take your computer to a better repair shop. (second person, singular, nominative case//second person, singular, possessive case)

He will meet her at noon. (third person, singular, nominative//third person, singular, objective case)

Trisha and Rose bought theirs at the bazaar. (third person, plural, possessive case)

The first challenge is selection of the correct pronoun for the subject of the sentence. The second challenge is selection of a pronoun that will provide number agreement, i.e., singular or plural. Below are two examples that utilize faulty English grammar.


Jimmy and me are going to a movie.

Each student must answer all of the questions on their test paper.

In the first sentence above the pronoun is a part of the subject of the sentence. A pronoun functioning as the subject of a sentence requires the nominative case. The pronoun me is in the objective case. The sentence should read: Jimmy and I are going to a movie.

The error in the second sentence occurs frequently among American English speakers. The subject of the sentence is singular. The pronoun their is plural. We can correctly write: Each student must answer all of the questions on his or her test paper.

The English language has a substantial mutative capacity, but there is one needed pronoun that English users have failed to invent. There is no second person pronoun that means both he and she or him and her.

We are required to write the cumbersome expression: Each applicant must sign and date his or her application. Alternatively, we can use only one pronoun, but that method risks offending members of the omitted gender, and it produces an inaccurate statement. Below are some additional examples of faulty pronoun usage.

Myself and the board approved the plan.

Sharon and Rita are working at the library, but she will be free at 2:30 pm.

In the first sentence above an objective case pronoun is erroneously used as part of the subject of the sentence. It is grammatically acceptable to write, I and the board, but courtesy requires that we write: The board and I approved the plan.

The second sentence has an antecedent relationship problem. Antecedent means precede. The pronoun she is preceded by a noun and refers to that noun. Which noun does the pronoun she reference? We can say that the pronoun she refers to either the proper noun Sharon or the proper noun Rita, but we don't know whom the author intended to reference.

nominative case personal pronouns


I, you, he, she, it


we, you, they

The pronouns listed above are in the nominative case. Any of these pronouns may be used as the subject of a sentence or in other constructions requiring the nominative case.

The pronoun you can be singular or plural. The pronoun it is used in the nominative case and is also used in the objective case. The pronoun it is classified as a personal pronoun, although it may not seem to be particularly personal.

objective case personal pronouns


me, you, him, her, it


us, you, them

The pronouns listed above are in the objective case. Any of these pronouns may be used as a direct object, indirect object, or as object of a preposition.

Fire him. (pronoun employed as a direct object)

We perform better without them. (pronoun employed as an object of a preposition)

She gave us the letter for Roger. (pronoun employed as an indirect object)

Personal pronouns may be used to indicate possession. The pronouns below are in the possessive case. Note that the apostrophe punctuation is not required. For example, the word it's is a contraction of the two words it is. Possessive personal pronouns do not accept the apostrophe.

possessive case personal pronouns


my, mine, your, yours, his, her, hers, its


our, ours, your, yours, their, theirs

Mine is the fourth seat on the left. (first person, singular, possessive case)

Yours is the third seat on the right. (second person, singular, possessive case)

Their seats are in business class. (third person, plural, possessive case)

NOTE. Some grammarians classify a possessive pronoun as an adjective if a noun follows the possessive pronoun as in the third sentence above.

The following words are reflexive pronouns. They may also be known as intensive pronouns. The word reflexive as used in the term reflexive pronoun means to reflect. The pronoun renames the subject of the sentence.

reflexive or intensive pronouns


myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself


ourselves, yourselves, themselves

Consider the following sentence. The birds are grooming. We don't know what the birds are grooming. A reflexive pronoun completes the expression.


The birds are grooming themselves.

The best comedians disparage themselves.

Stanley freed himself from the wrecked automobile.


You must understand the subject, yourself, before you can explain it to other people.

John, himself, is a comedian.

I, myself, am a graduate of that college.

Intensive pronouns create a redundancy.

Recommendation: Do not use intensive pronouns.

interrogative pronouns

what, which, who, whom, whose

Interrogative pronouns are used to form questions.

Who is President of the United States?

Which branch of government is currently the most influential?

What is meant by "separation of powers"?

relative pronouns

that, which, who, whom, whose

The grammatical term relative as used in relative pronoun means relate. Relative pronouns may be used in complex sentences, i.e., sentences that have an independent clause and a subordinate clause. The relative pronoun relates the subordinate clause to the independent clause. The relative pronoun specifically relates to a word or words in the independent clause. It is correct to say that the relative pronoun relates the subordinate clause to an antecedent in the independent clause. The word antecedent means before or preceding.

Abraham Lincoln, who prevented disintegration of the United States, was perhaps the greatest US President.

Name the teacher who had the greatest influence on your academic development.

I met the person whose essay was nominated.

Some of the words listed above as interrogative pronouns are also listed as relative pronouns. The classification of a word in English is determined by the function of the word in the sentence.

demonstrative pronouns

Demonstrative as used in the term, demonstrative pronoun, means to identify. A writer or speaker uses a demonstrative pronoun to identify a person, place, or thing.


this, that


these, those

That is my bicycle.

Those are the books that must be returned to the school library.

This is a photograph of the earth that was taken from a satelite.

This is my notebook, and that notebook belongs to Carmine.

In the last sentence above the word this is employed as a demonstrative pronoun. The word that is employed as an adjective that modifies the noun notebook.

indefinite pronouns

Indefinite pronouns are generalized, nonspecific references to people, places, or things. Following is a list of words that are indefinite pronouns.


another, anybody, anyone, anything, each, either, everybody, everyone, everything, little, much, neither, nobody, no one, nothing, one, other,
somebody, someone, something


both, few, many, others, several

singular or plural

all, any, enough, half, more, most, none, some

Some examples of indefinite pronoun usage are shown below.

Everyone is coming to my party.

No one is home.

Few of the roads are paved in that province.

All of the seats on that flight are booked.

All is lost.

Half of the faculty members are absent.

Half of that apple is sufficient for me.

Enough is being said about the subject to warrant investigation.

Enough have been distributed.

Have you had enough of the English language for one day?

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