Grammar, Writing

Pronouns and More

A pronoun is a word we use in place of a noun or a noun phrase. Pronouns are easier and less confusing than writing a name or a phrase such as “my daughter’s teacher” over and over again.

Here are a few sentences that show us what it sounds like when we don’t use any pronouns:

Bob was getting into Bob’s car when suddenly Bob remembered that Bob had forgotten Bob’s laptop. Bob went back into Bob’s house to get Bob’s laptop. Unfortunately, Bob’s cat got loose, so Bob had to find Bob’s cat before Bob could drive to work.

That sounds rather odd, doesn’t it? Let’s try it again with some pronouns.

Bob was getting into his car when suddenly he remembered that he had forgotten his laptop. Bob went back into his house to get his laptop. Unfortunately, his cat got loose, so Bob had to find his cat before he could drive to work.

In the second example, we still use the name “Bob”. We have to introduce him to our readers by name before we use a pronoun, or else the readers will be confused. However, we don’t need use the name “Bob” again and again. Instead, we use pronouns.

There are many types of pronouns, but for our purposes today, we will focus on two different types: personal pronouns and possessive pronouns. We will also show you the difference between a possessive pronoun and a possessive adjective and how to use each one.

Personal pronouns

Personal pronouns are the words we use in place of a name or a common noun/noun phrase that indicates a person, such as “teacher”, “neighbor”, “son-in-law”, or “friend of the family”. “It” is an exception; this pronoun refers to a thing or perhaps an animal, but not a person.

In the table below, you will find a list of personal pronouns and an example sentence for each one.

PronounSentence
IShould I sign up for this course?
YouDo you know when the meeting will take place?
SheShe emailed the documents this morning.
HeHe will be on leave until next week.
ItIt makes a weird noise whenever it runs for too long.
WeYesterday we had a seminar in the auditorium.
TheyUnfortunately, they cannot come to the meeting

Possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives

We can use either possessive pronouns or possessive adjectives to show that something belongs to somebody. They can also show a connection between people.

Let’s start with possessive pronouns. The table below lists each one, along with an example sentence. They usually appear at the end of sentences.

Possessive PronounSentence
MineThose books are mine.
YoursI have my laptop. Do you have yours?
HisThe yellow sports car is his.
HersThose shoes are hers.
OursThis cat is ours.
TheirsThe children are theirs.

Now let’s move on to possessive adjectives. Again, we will list them in a table, along with example sentences. You will probably notice that they look and sound a lot like pronouns. Indeed, most people consider them to be pronouns. The reason they are called adjectives is because they modify the nouns that come after them. (To make this clearer for you, in the table below, both the possessive adjective and the noun it modifies are in boldface type.)

Possessive AdjectiveSentence
MyThis is my jacket.
YourI found your sunglasses on the table.
HerRana is bringing her karaoke machine to the party.
HisMario is washing his car.
ItsMy phone is updating its software.
OurOur house was built in the 1990s.
TheirThe nurses are taking care of their patients.

Note that we never use an apostrophe with any of these pronouns, possessive pronouns, or possessive adjectives. Words such as “his”, “hers”, and “theirs” do not need an apostrophe since they already show possession. Meanwhile, the contractions “it’s”, “you’re”, and “they’re” are shortened forms of “it is”, “you are”, and “they are”, respectively. They sound the same as “its”, “your”, and “their”, but their meanings are completely different.

If you still aren’t sure about how to use pronouns or possessive adjectives, click the blue box below. One of our TextRanch editors will take a look at your writing and give you some feedback. If you want a more in-depth explanation of how the rules of English grammar work, check out our new Ask an Editor feature.

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One Reply to Pronouns and More

  1. I am a Pakistani
    My language is Urdu
    My name is Sajjad Ali shah
    But I like English
    Because English is used all over the world

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