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Types of Pronouns for English Grammar

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Aug 12, 2011

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Pronoun Practice Exercises for English Grammar

Types of Pronouns

There are many types of pronouns. The most important are personal, impersonal, relative, demonstrative, interrogative, reflexive, intensive, reciprocal, and indefinite. As a first step in learning these terms, examine the following examples of each type:

    Personal pronouns: I, you, he, she, we, they, one
    Impersonal pronouns: it, they
    Relative pronouns: who, which, that, whoever, whichever
    Demonstrative pronouns: this, that, these, those
    Interrogative pronouns: who, which, what, whoever, whatever
    Reflexive pronouns: myself, yourself, himself, herself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves, itself
    Intensive pronouns: myself, yourself, himself, herself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves, itself
    Reciprocal pronouns: each other, one another
    Indefinite pronouns: each, either, any, anyone, some, someone, all

Personal and Impersonal Pronouns

Personal pronouns refer to people. Impersonal pronouns refer to everything but people.

Personal and impersonal pronouns can be singular or plural. They can also be in the subjective, possessive, or objective case. Personal pronouns may also indicate gender.

The following table summarizes personal and impersonal pronouns in number, case, and gender:

The following sentences illustrate the uses of personal and impersonal pronouns in each of the three cases:

Subjective Case

    I (We, You, They) see the entire scene.
    He (She, It, One) sees the entire scene.

Possessive Case

    The mistake was mine (ours, yours, hers, his, theirs).
    Mine (Ours, Yours, His, Hers, Theirs) was the only part that required revision.

Objective Case

    The editor criticizes me (us, him, her, one, them, it).

Relative Pronouns

    Relative pronouns refer to people and objects.
    They are used in the three cases:
Subjective Possessive Objective
who whose whom
that of that that
which of which, whose which, whom

Who refers to people; that to people or objects; which to animals, objects, or collective nouns.

The following sentences illustrate the uses of who, that, and which in all their cases:

Subjective Case

    A woman who wants to succeed in business must dedicate herself to that end.
    The boat that won the race had an outstanding crew.
    Which of the contracts was witnessed by a notary public?

Possessive Case

    Whose automobile gave out first?
    I have had enough of that.
    The problem of which you spoke has a simple solution.
    The board of trustees, whose unanimous approval is needed, failed to act in time.

Objective Case

    The minor literary figures to whom you refer surely merit no further study.
    You cannot object to that!
    The journals to which he contributes make no claims about his professional integrity.
    American authors to whom respect is due include Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner.

Whoever, whomever, whichever, and whatever are also classified as relative pronouns:

    Whoever said Amy would become an outstanding computer programmer must have had a crystal ball.
    Give it to whomever you decide needs most help.
    You have three choices: whichever you overlook will bring you nothing but trouble.
    Whatever soldiers do, they must be prepared to stand by their actions.
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