A pronoun is used to replace a noun or noun phrase, known as an antecedent, in a sentence. The pronoun should agree in number and in person with its antecedent. Plural subjects, such as “people,” will require a plural antecedent. Singular subjects, such as “he,” will require a singular antecedent.
What if I have more than one subject?
For sentences that feature compound subjects (more than one subject), separate the two subjects to determine which pronoun is correct. Here are some examples:
|Benny and me left to get ice cream.||Benny left to get ice cream.
Me left to get ice cream.
|The pronoun “me” is incorrect here.|
|Benny and I left to get ice cream.||Benny left to get ice cream.
I left to get ice cream.
|This is an appropriate use of the pronoun “I.”|
There are object, subject, possessive, interrogative, relative, indefinite, and demonstrative pronouns.
Kinds of Pronoun, and When to Use Them
Object pronouns are those that replace an object noun.
They include me, you, him, her, it, us, them.
Subject pronouns are those that replace a subject in a sentence.
They include I, you, he, she, it, we, they.
Possessive pronouns can indicate possession in a sentence.
They include mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, theirs.
Interrogative pronouns are used when a question is asked.
They include who, which, what, whom, and whose.
- “Who,” “whom,” and “whose” refer to people.
- “What” may refer to any noun.
- “Which” can be used to differentiate between two or more things.
Relative pronouns follow a noun or pronoun, and they introduce a relative clause.
They include who, whose, whom, which, and that.
The group of pronouns that refer to a general group or thing are indefinite pronouns. These can be either singular or plural.
Singular indefinite pronouns
Singular indefinite pronouns will agree with a singular verb. Plural indefinite pronouns will agree with a plural verb.
They include one, each, either, neither, everyone, no one, anybody, somebody, everybody, anyone, and someone.
Plural indefinite pronouns
Plural indefinite pronouns include several, both, many, others, and few.
A word about a particularly tricky indefinite pronoun: none… None can mean the same thing as not one or not any and can be either singular or plural.
Demonstrative pronouns help to differentiate between two choices, and they can emphasize a particular noun.
These pronouns include this, these, that, and those.
*Pronouns may sacrifice clarity in your writing if you are discussing multiple subjects at a time. Make sure the reader knows directly who or what you are referring to — pronouns are not always necessary.
- “Pronouns.” The Writing Center at George Mason U, 2020.