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pronoun: Wikis


  • Who says so?
  • That reminds me of something.
  • He looked at them.
  • Take it or leave it (Impersonal pronoun).
  • I love you.
Personal pronouns

Standard English personal pronouns:

Parts of speech:


Gender issues:


Other languages:

In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun (Lat: pronomen) is a pro-form that substitutes for a noun (or noun phrase) with or without a determiner, such as you and they in English. The replaced phrase is called the antecedent of the pronoun.

For example, consider the sentence "Lisa gave the coat to Phil." All three nouns in the sentence can be replaced by pronouns: "She gave it to him." If the coat, Lisa, and Phil have been previously mentioned, the listener can deduce what the pronouns she, it and him refer to and therefore understand the meaning of the sentence. However, if the sentence "She gave it to him" is the first presentation of the idea, none of the pronouns have antecedents and each pronoun is therefore ambiguous. Pronouns without antecedents are also called unprecursed pronouns.


Types of pronouns

Common types of pronouns found in the world's languages are as follows.

  • Personal pronouns stand in place of the names of people or things:
    • Subjective pronouns are used when the person or thing is the subject of the sentence or clause. English example: I like to eat chips, but she does not.
      • Second person formal and informal pronouns (T-V distinction). For example, vous and tu in French. There is no distinction in modern English, though Elizabethan English marked the distinction with "thou" (singular informal) and "you" (plural or singular formal).
      • Inclusive and exclusive "we" pronouns indicate whether the audience is included. There is no distinction in English.
      • Intensive pronouns re-emphasize a noun or pronoun that has already been mentioned. English uses the same forms as for the reflexive pronouns; for example: I did it myself (contrast reflexive use I did it to myself).
    • Objective pronouns are used when the person or thing is the object of the sentence or clause. English example: John likes me but not her.
      • Direct and indirect object pronouns. English uses the same forms for both; for example: Mary loves him (direct object); Mary sent him a letter (indirect object).
      • Reflexive pronouns are used when a person or thing acts on itself. English example: John cut himself.
      • Reciprocal pronouns refer to a reciprocal relationship. English example: They do not like each other.
    • Prepositional pronouns come after a preposition. No distinct forms exist in English; for example: Mary looked at him.
    • Disjunctive pronouns are used in isolation, or in certain other special grammatical contexts. No distinct forms exist in English; for example: Who does this belong to? Me.
    • Dummy pronouns are used when grammatical rules require a noun (or pronoun), but none is semantically required. English example: It is raining.
    • Weak pronouns.
  • Possessive pronouns are used to indicate possession or ownership.
    • In strict sense, the possessive pronouns are only those that act syntactically as nouns. English example: Those clothes are mine.
    • Often, though, the term "possessive pronoun" is also applied to the so-called possessive adjectives (or possessive determiners). For example, in English: I lost my wallet. They are not strictly speaking pronouns because they do not substitute for a noun or noun phrase, and as such, some grammarians classify these terms in a separate lexical category called determiners (they have a syntactic role close to that of adjectives, always qualifying a noun).
  • Demonstrative pronouns distinguish the particular objects or people that are referred to from other possible candidates. English example: I shall take these.
  • Indefinite pronouns refer to general categories of people or things. English example: Anyone can do that.
    • Distributive pronouns are used to refer to members of a group separately, rather than collectively. English example: To each his own.
    • Negative pronouns indicate the non-existence of people or things. English example: Nobody thinks that.
  • Relative pronouns refer back to people or things previously mentioned. English example: People who smoke should quit now.
    • Indefinite relative pronouns have some of the properties of both relative pronouns and indefinite pronouns. They have a sense of "referring back", but the person or thing to which they refer has not previously been explicitly named. English example: I know what I like.
  • Interrogative pronouns ask which person or thing is meant. English example: Who did that?
    • In many languages (e.g., Czech, English, French, Interlingua, Russian) the sets of relative and interrogative pronouns are nearly identical. Compare English: Who is that? (interrogative) to I know who that is. (relative).

[[Media:Example.ogg]]== Pronouns and determiners == Pronouns and determiners are closely related, and some linguists think pronouns are actually determiners without a noun phrase.[1] The following chart shows their relationships in English.

Pronoun Determiner
Personal (1st/2nd) we we Scotsmen
Possessive ours our homeland
Demonstrative this this gentleman
Indefinite some some frogs
Interrogative who which

See also

In English

In other languages



  1. ^ Postal, Paul (1966), Dinneen, Francis P., ed., "On So-Called "Pronouns" in English", Report of the Seventeenth Annual Round Table Meeting on Linguistics and Language Studies (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press): 177–206 

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:



pro- + noun, modeled on Middle French pronom < Latin pronomen, itself a calque of Ancient Greek ἀντωνυμία (antōnumia).




pronoun (plural pronouns)

  1. (grammar) A type of noun that refers anaphorically to another noun or noun phrase, but which cannot ordinarily be preceded by a determiner and rarely takes an attributive adjective. English examples include I, you, him, who, me, my, each other.

Related terms

Derived terms


Simple English

A pronoun is traditionally called a part of speech in grammar (but many modern linguists, experts in linguistics, call it a special type of noun[1]) In English, pronouns are words such as me, she, his, them, herself, each other, it, what.

Pronouns are often used to take the place of a noun, when that noun is understood (has already been named), to avoid repeating it. For example, instead of saying

  • Tom has a new dog. Tom has named the dog Max and Tom lets the dog sleep by Tom's bed.

it is easier to say

  • Tom has a new dog. He has named it Max and he lets it sleep by his bed.

When a pronoun replaces a noun, the noun is called the antecedent. But, there are times when the pronoun has no antecedent. This is because generally, the antecedent (what comes before) refers grammatically to the use of the relative pronoun in particular. For example, in the sentence: The dog that was walking down the street, the relative pronoun is the word that referring back to the antecedent, the word 'dog'. In the sentence The spy who loved me, the relative pronoun is the word 'who' and its antecedent is the word 'spy'.


Differences and similarities to nouns

Pronouns are different from common nouns because they normally can not come after articles or other determiners. (For example, people do not say "the it".) Pronouns also rarely come after adjectives. They are also different because many of them change depending on how they are used. For example, "we" is a 'subject' in grammar, but the word changes to us when used as an object.

Pronouns are the same as nouns because they both change for number (singular & plural), case (subject, object, possessive, etc.), and gender (male, female, animate, inanimate, etc.) Nouns and pronouns can be used in almost all the same places in sentences, and they name the same kinds of things: people, objects, etc. Even though they can not normally come after determiners, or adjectives, neither can proper nouns.

Kinds of pronouns

There are four kinds of pronouns: personal, reciprocal, interrogative, and relative.

Kinds of English pronouns
ipersonalyou love themYour sister loves herself
iireciprocalwe like each otherwe are looking at one another
iiiinterrogativewho is there?what happened?
ivrelativethe person who saw itthe time which you told me

Personal pronouns in English

This table shows all the personal pronouns in English that are commonly used today.

Personal pronouns in English
Singular Plural
Subject Object Possessive Subject Object Possessive
First I me mine we us ours
Second you you yours you you yours
Third Feminine she her hers they them theirs
Masculine he him his
Neuter it it its

A Subject Pronoun can replace a noun that is the subject of a sentence. Refer to the table above; the subject pronouns are: I, You, He, She, It, We, They.

Another type of personal pronoun is called the 'reflexive pronoun'. Reflexive pronouns are the words ending in '-self' or '-selves', such as: myself, itself, themselves.

Other pages


  1. Huddleston, R. & Pullum, G. K. (2002). The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

Citable sentences

Up to date as of December 20, 2010

Here are sentences from other pages on Pronoun, which are similar to those in the above article.

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