Pronouns – Definition, Types and Examples


Pronouns are very important words in English language. Instead of repeating nouns, we use pronouns. Thus a pronoun is a grammatical word that we use instead of a noun or a noun phrase.


i. Zahid’s face flashes into a smile and he leads me through the back-lanes of New-Delhi’s Nizamudin market.
ii. Together, we are in search of Zeshan.
iii. He runs a sweet shop at the entrance of the Dargah.
Sentence (i) begins with the name of Zahid, when we refer to him the 2nd time, the pronoun; ‘he’ is used instead of his name. ‘he’ the third person, singular,, masculine pronoun stands for Zahid.

Now notice the first person object pronoun ‘me’ in the sentence (i). It refers to the another speaker.

In sentence (ii) ‘we’ refers to the writer and Zahid. Similarly in sentence (iii) ‘he’ refers to Zeshan. Note that generally, a pronoun refers to the noun that appears right before it. So ‘he’ in the sentence (iii) can’t refer to Zahid.

Read another Illustration

i. “Viruses” are very minute organism.
ii. They are microscopic.
The pronoun ‘they’ in the sentence (ii) refers to viruses.

Classifications of Pronouns:-

Pronouns are classified into the following classes:

i. Personal Pronouns
ii. Reflexive Pronouns
iii. Demonstrative Pronouns
iv. Indefinite Pronouns
v. Relative Pronouns
vi. Interrogative Pronouns
vii. Conflictive Pronouns
viii. Distributive Pronouns
ix. Reciprocal Pronouns

Personal Pronoun:-Pronouns that stand for persons are called personal Pronouns. Personal Pronouns are used when it is clear who or what is being talked about.

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Personal Pronouns are of three kinds:

i. First person Pronoun:-It refers to the person who speaks; e.g. I, we, etc.

  • I am a student.
  • Give me a pen as mine is lost.
  • My pencil is small.
  • Our classroom is small.
  • Let us go for a walk.
  • We going for a walk.
  • In above sentences; I, me, my, mine are Pronouns which refer to the person speaking. They are Pronouns of first person singular number. The rest Pronouns; our, us, we, ours are Pronouns which also refer to the person speaking but includes others for whom he or she speaks. They are Pronouns of first person plural number.

    In the illustration cited above we observe how personal Pronouns of the first person change their form according to number and case? The observation is represented as:

    Nominative: I We
    Possessive: My, Mine Our, Ours
    Objective: Me Us

    ii. Second person Pronoun:-It refers to the person spoken to e.g. you, thou, read the following sentences:

    • You must come on time.Where are your books?These clothes are yours.

    • Where are your books?These clothes are yours.

    In the sentences above; you, your, yours are Pronouns which refer to the person spoken to and are said to be second person singular number. However, you, your, yours are used for both singular and plural. When only one person is spoken to the Pronoun still takes a plural verb; as you are late.

    Personal Pronouns of the second person change their form according to their case:

    Nominative = You
    Possessive = Your, yours
    Objective = you

    Note:-Thou, Thine and Thee are second person singular Pronouns used in poetry and sometimes in elevated prose.

    iii. Third Person Pronoun: It refers to the person/thing spoken of; e.g. he, she, it, read the following sentences:

  • He is a bold boy.
  • His books are lost.
  • The teacher beat him.
  • These books are his.
  • She is a nice girl.
  • Her books are lost.
  • The teacher beat her.
  • These books are hers.
  • It is broken.
  • Its color is red.
  • Keep it there. They have come.
  • Their school is far away.
  • Ask them to come here.
  • These books are theirs.
  • Table of Third Person Pronoun

    1 He, his, him = Third person singular number masculine gender.
    2 She, her, hers = Third person singular number feminine gender.
    3 It, its = Third person singular number neutral gender.
    4 They, their, them, theirs = Third person plural number common gender.

    Points to remember
    Use the nominative form of the pronoun when used as subject of a sentence, and the objective form when used as the object of a verb or preposition.

    The forms my, her, our, your, their, are used only when coming before the noun they quality e.g.,

  • This is my pen.
  • This is their house.
  • I am your teacher.
  • This is her pen.

  • These are usually known as possessive objectives.

    The forms mine, hers, ours, theirs, etc. are commonly used after the noun; examples:

  • This pencil is hers.
  • A cousin of theirs lives in Delhi.
  • He is friend of mine.

  • • A pronoun must agree in number and gender with the noun for which it stands; examples:

  • As the man came near; I saw him.
  • As the woman came near; I saw her.
  • As the men/women came near; I saw them.
  • As the rock fell; it made noise.

  • When pronouns of all the three persons are used, we must use the second person first, then the third person and then the first person; examples:

  • He and I are in the same class.
  • You, He and I have to share the food.
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