Written by tutor Katherine Y.
A pronoun is a word used in place of a noun or nouns.
The noun which the pronoun replaces is called its antecedent.
If something has already been named, we don't need to keep repeating the noun throughout a sentence or paragraph. Instead, we may use a pronoun to refer to the original noun.
In general, pronouns are not as specific as the nouns they replace. They are universal generalities which stand in for the specific word already used.
For example, instead of saying,
“Sarah spent nearly half an hour searching before Sarah found the missing purse”,
we would replace the noun “Sarah” with “she” the second time.
“Sarah spent nearly half an hour searching before she found the missing purse.”
Different Kinds of Pronouns
I, my, mine, me, we, our, ours, us
you, your, yours
he, his, him, she, her, hers, it, its, they, their, theirs, them
These pronouns refer back to self
myself, ourselves, yourself, yourselves, himself, herself, itself, themselves
These pronouns introduce clauses
who, whom, whose, which, that
These pronouns introduce questions
Who? Whose? What? Whom? Which?
These pronouns “point” to a person or thing
this, that, these, those
all, another, any, anybody, anyone, anyting, both, each, either, everybody, everyone, everything, few, many, more, most, much, neither, nobody, none, no one, one other, several, some, somebody, someone
If you are trying to become familiar with pronouns, read through these lists to get a feel for what the words are like. Keep in mind that they are general replacements for more specific words.
Now see how many pronouns you can find in these sentences:
Our twins are the happiest people we know. When one wakes up in the morning, she looks over to see if her sister is awake. She knows they don't want to miss a moment of the day. One of the first things those two always do is run in to see their baby sister, who sleeps later than they do. Each girl wants to be the first to pick her up. They both rush over to the baby, and may fall over themselves, waking her up.
An excellent, classic, and very thorough source for any grammar question is:
J.E. Warriner, M.E. Whitten, F. Griffith, English Grammar and Composition, Third Course. 1977. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
I have used this book as a resource for this page. The information I've given is general knowledge, but it can be found in a similar format, in greater depth, in Warriner's.