10 Types Of Pronouns And How To Use Them

We talk a lot about pronouns today, especially she/hers, he/him, and of course the age-old palaver over the singular they. But, if you’re really going to dig into your pronouns, shouldn’t you know all the types that are out there? We’re here to help. Certain types of pronouns closely relate to one another, and many words can function as multiple different types of pronouns, depending how they’re used.

What is a pronoun?

A pronoun is “any member of a small class of words found in many languages that are used as replacements or substitutes for nouns and noun phrases, and that have very general reference,” such as I, you, he, this, it, who, what.

Common types of pronouns

Personal pronouns

Personal pronouns take the place of people or things. They can be either singular or plural, depending whether they refer to one or multiple nouns. Examples include I, me, we, and us.

Personal pronouns are usually either the subject of a sentence or an object within a sentence. Each personal pronoun has different forms depending on its function. For example, if a writer is referring to himself, he should use I if he’s the subject of a sentence, as in “I saw the dog.” If he’s the object, he should use me, as in “The dog saw me.”

Do you know the history behind using they and themself as singular pronouns? Find out more and why they are making a comeback now.

Possessive pronouns

Possessive pronouns are personal pronouns that also indicate possession of something. They have singular forms (like my), and plural forms (like our). These pronouns often appear before the possessed item, but not always. For example, both “my car” and “the car is mine” both indicate who owns the car.

Relative pronouns

A relative pronoun starts a clause (a group of words that refer to a noun). Who, that, and which are all relative pronouns. They can also serve as other types of pronouns, depending on the sentence. For example, in “I saw the dog that you own,” the relative pronoun that is the beginning of the clause that you own, which describes the dog.

Reflexive pronouns

When a subject performs an action on itself, the sentence uses a reflexive pronoun after the verb. Reflexive pronouns include myself, himselfthemselves, and herself. An example of a reflexive pronoun is the common expression “I kicked myself.”

Intensive pronouns

Intensive pronouns are similar to reflexive pronouns, but have a different function in a sentence. An intensive pronoun is not a necessary part of a sentence and serves only to add emphasis to its antecedent. For example: I told the children that you yourself would bake the cake today. In this sentence, yourself is an intensive pronoun that repeats the idea that you are making the cake. (Better get to it then!)

Indefinite pronouns

Like personal pronouns, indefinite pronouns refer to people or things, but they don’t have a specific person or thing to reference. Examples of indefinite pronouns include some, anyone, and everything.

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Demonstrative pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns point out or modify a person or thing. There are four demonstrative pronouns: this and that (for singular words), and these and those (for plural words).

Interrogative pronouns

Interrogative pronouns begin questions. For example, in “Who are you?”, the interrogative pronoun who starts the question. There are five interrogative pronouns: who, whom, and whose (for questions that involve people), and which and what (for questions that involve things).

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Reciprocal pronouns

Reciprocal pronouns are similar to reflexive pronouns, but they involve groups of two or more that perform the same action with one another. There are only two reciprocal pronouns: each other (for groups of two) and one another (for larger groups).

Distributive pronouns

A distributive pronoun refers to one person, animal, or thing at a time. These pronouns include eachneither, and either, which should be paired with plural nouns and singular verbs. Here’s one example: each of the dogs had a bath today. Or: neither of the packages arrived on time.

They say everything is relative ... particularly these 5 pronouns. Learn more about them here.

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