The All-Important Pronouns Study Guide (page 3)

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Updated on Sep 30, 2011


If you delete the reflexive pronoun from the sentence, it doesn't make grammatical sense. Intensive pronouns, on the other hand, are not essential to the sentence's meaning.

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns (this, that, these, those) are fairly easy to use. They demonstrate what you are talking about; they point out a noun. Here are some correct samples:

      This is an easy lesson to learn.
      Those other pronouns are much more difficult to get right.


A common mistake that many writers and speakers make is to double up and add the words here or there. For example, an inexpert writer might make mistakes like these:

      This here lesson is driving me crazy.
      That there assignment is the worst we've ever had.

Be careful not to insert extra words.

The That–Which Confusion

Use the pronoun that when what follows it is essential to your sentence. Use the pronoun which (with a comma in front of it) when the clause it introduces can be deleted from the sentence without destroying its meaning. For example:

      Careful writing that includes correct pronouns is a sign of good education.
      Writing, which is a difficult task, can often be rewarding.

Interrogative Pronouns: Is It Who Or Whom?

There are several interrogative pronouns, and they're easy to spot. (Remember that the word interrogative is related to interrogation, a word you probably know from watching too many detective shows on TV.) Interrogative pronouns ask who and whom. Here are examples of the correct usage of who and whom:

Who is always used as a subject (who replaces he or she).

    Who writes better than I do?
    Your favorite Beatle is who? (Linking verb takes a subject.)

Whom is always used as an object (whom replaces him, her, or them).

    With whom are you going to the concert?
    You gave whom the answers to this week's math homework?


Believe it or not, what you should do right now is go back to the beginning of this lesson and read through it carefully one more time. Pronouns are easily confused, and you will benefit in the long run if you spend an extra few minutes reviewing the pronoun rules. And remember to look back at this lesson whenever you find yourself hesitating about which pronoun to use. Good luck!

Exercises for this concept can be found at The All-Important Pronouns Practice Exercises.

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