personal pronoun refers to a person
or thing and changes form to indicate person, number, gender, and case. The subjective personal pronoun acts as the
subject of a sentence. These pronouns include I, you, she, he,
it, we, and they. [A plural you in the English language also exists,
but native speakers don’t really bother to make that distinction.] The objective personal pronoun acts as an
object of a verb, compound verb, preposition, or infinitive phrase. The
objective personal pronouns include me,
you, her, him, it, us,
you, and them. The possessive
personal pronoun indicates ownership and include mine, yours, hers, his, its, ours, and theirs. (UOttawa
was the easy part, because beginning with the demonstrative pronouns, things
gets confusing. As a native speaker, this stuff is cake. You don’t think about
it, you just do it but sometimes, as a writer, you are forced to examine the
language with a closer lens.]
demonstrative pronoun points to a
noun or a pronoun, [which is a lot like the personal pronoun]. [However,
demonstrative pronouns are words that you may not necessarily think of as
pronouns.] They are this, that, these, and those. This and these refers to nouns or pronouns which are close in physical space
or time. That and those refers to nouns or pronouns that are farther away in
physical space or time. Interrogative
pronouns ask questions, [and—again—you may not naturally classify these as
pronouns], but they are: who, whom, which, what, whoever, whomever, whichever, and whatever. Who and whom and their
compounds refer to people, who
working as the subject of the sentence and whom
acting as the object of a verb, preposition, or a verbal. Which and what refers to
inanimate objects or animals (UOttawa
I know, right now you are thinking, “Oh my God, what’s a verbal?!” Don’t worry
about it. Keep going. It gets easier, I promise.]
link phrases or clauses together and include who, whom, that, which, whoever, whomever, and whichever. An indefinite
pronoun refers to an identifiable but not specified person or thing. The
most common of these pronouns are all,
another, any, anybody, anyone, anything, each, everybody, everyone, everything, few, many,
nobody, none, one, several, some, somebody, and someone. Reflexive pronouns refer back to the subject of the clause or
sentence and these pronouns are myself,
yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves,
and themselves (UOttawa
and yeah, all of these reflexive pronouns are also used as intensive pronouns, and intensive pronouns refer back to the word
right before it, as in “I myself need a break from all of this grammar.”]
it boils down to: a pronoun is used to replace another word. Most of the time,
you’ll probably just concern yourself with the top five pronouns: I, you,
she, he, and it. Pronouns are
used to make writing and reading less repetitive and smooth; however, because
you are replacing words with other words, pronoun usage becomes a problem when
the reader cannot tell which word the pronoun is referring back to. This is
the vague pronoun reference error.
the pronoun categories, the specific words in each category, and where the
pronouns can be placed and used in a sentence can clear up a good portion of
any vague references within a piece of writing.
example, you may have noticed the crossed out sentence two paragraphs above:
This is the
vague pronoun reference error.
This is a
demonstrative pronoun and should refer to a noun close in physical space or
time. The pronoun in the example sentence neither refers to a noun in physical
space or time. In fact, the pronoun this
in the example sentence refers to the ENTIRE idea of the previous statement.
Pronouns must be boiled down to a specific, individual noun-word.
The Antecedent The
noun the pronoun refers back to is termed the antecedent, and every pronoun must have one.
you notice the indefinite pronoun above?
The noun the
pronoun refers back to is termed the antecedent, and every pronoun must have one.
One is the
indefinite pronoun, and its antecedent is—well, antecedent.
have hopefully made clear that a pronoun must always refer back to a single
antecedent, but what do you do with the following sentence:
Joe gave Steve the
Call of Duty game that he played
does he refer to? Joe or Steve? Well,
maybe my brother Joe is reading this blog because he refers to Steve, and to fix this sentence:
Joe gave Steve
the Call of Duty game that Steve
played with constantly.
so wow. We are done. Tomorrow, no comma in a compound sentence!