Different Types of Pronouns Help (page 2)
All About Pronouns
There are a number of different types of pronouns that you should know about. Review the following new pronoun list before you continue:
- Personal (subject): I, you, he, she, it, we, they, who
- Personal (object): me, you, him, her, it, us, them, whom
- Mirror: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves
- Relative: which, that, who, whom, what, whatever, whomever Pointing: this, these
- Indefinite: all, any, anybody, anything, both, each, either, enough, everybody, few, less, many, more, much, neither, none, nothing, one, plenty, several, some, someone
- Ownership: my, mine, your, yours, his, hers, its, our, ours, their, theirs
Personal pronouns are used as both subjects and objects. Look at the following incorrect example:
- Incorrect: Me walks a mile every morning.
Me cannot be used as the subject; it is an object pronoun. I is the subject pronoun.
- Correct: I walk a mile every morning.
Take a look at a correct use of me:
You should give your phone number to me for emergencies.
In this sentence, the pronoun me is the object of the preposition to.
At times you may have trouble deciding whether to use a subject or object pronoun. Here's a trick you should know when you have a choice between two pronouns: Try one pronoun at a time. For example, what would you do if you couldn't decide between these two pronouns?
- I ran into Jack and (he/him) at the mall.
Using the previously mentioned trick, you would eliminate one pronoun and say the sentence, preferably out loud.
- I ran into he at the mall.
- I ran into him at the mall.
Which sounds better to you? Undoubtedly, you would say the second sentence sounds correct, and it is. The pronoun chart at the beginning of this section tells you that he is a subject pronoun, which cannot be used in this object position. By the way, Jack and him are objects of the preposition into.
Consider this issue another way:
- Jack and (he/him) ran into Mel at the mall.
Which pronoun will you use? First, decide what the pronoun's function is in this sentence. You probably realize that you are choosing a subject pronoun. You can look at the pronoun chart to confirm your choice, or once again, you can eliminate one word in the subject to find the answer.
- Him ran into Mel at the mall.
- He ran into Mel at the mall.
Say it out loud, and your ear will tell you the correct statement.
Subject and object pronouns are also involved in comparisons. It's very easy to make a pronoun error when you say or write a comparison. For example:
- Cindy liked the movie more than (she/her).
The first thing you have to know is that this is an unfinished comparison. The sentence means that Cindy liked the movie more than someone else did. In fact, the verb did is understood although not stated. Consequently, if you add did to the end of the sentence, which would you choose, she or her?
- Cindy liked the movie more than (she/her) did.
The answer is now obvious to you:
- Cindy liked the movie more than she did.
Keep this in mind: finishing the sentence also avoids any misunderstanding due to ambiguity. What else could the sentence mean? Cindy liked the movie more than her, meaning "her friend Lee"? Did Cindy like movies more than she liked her friend Lee? No, this is not the intention. When in doubt, finish the sentence.
Personal Pronouns Practice and Answers
Correct the pronoun errors in each of the following sentences.
- Mac and me, and our families, share a camper.
- I sent a letter of complaint to the salesperson and she.
- I ate much more at dinner than her.
- Give the results to Bonnie and she.
- You and them play cards every weekend, don't you?
- Shelley has voted in more elections than him.
- You could give he your house key.
- The cat and him are under the bed.
- Blame it on him and I.
- She takes the children to the playground more than him.
1. Mac and I… 2. …salesperson and her. 3. …dinner than she (did)… 4. …to Bonnie and her. 5. You and they play… 6. …elections than he (did). 7. …give him… 8. …Cat and he are… 9. …him and me. 10. …more than he (does).
When pronouns seem to take the role of adjectives, that is, modifying or describing another word, they can cause confusion. Let's clear that up right now. The fact is that a personal pronoun sometimes shows ownership:
Our choosing a car became a difficult issue.
Whose choice of cars was it? It was ours.
Your losing weight is the only thing we talk about!
Whose loss of weight was it? It was yours.
I know that you oppose my leaving the meeting early.
Whose leaving was it? It was my leaving.
What do the phrases our choosing, your losing, and my leaving have in common? They are all introduced by a personal ownership pronoun that is then followed by an -ing ending verb known to grammarians as gerunds. What is so interesting about English is that you can take a verb that ends in -ing and have it perform as a noun would. For example:
- Our choosing a car became a difficult issue.
In the preceding sentence, what is the subject? If you said Our choosing, you won the grammar prize! The gerund phrase acts as a noun and functions as the subject. The ownership pronoun, Our, does the job of an adjective and modifies choosing. Look at the rest of the sentence. What is the verb in the sentence? It is became.
Ownership Pronouns Practice and Answers
Refer to the list at the top of page 61 to find the ownership pronouns. Then correct the pronoun errors in each of the following sentences.
- Me buying a car without consulting you was a mistake.
- Them charging me too much was also a mistake.
- Jorge was thrilled about she choosing me to lead the discussion.
- She staying one extra day was no problem to the Santos family.
- Them fighting all the time gave all of us a headache.
1. My buying a car… 2. Their charging me… 3. …about her choosing… 4. Her staying one extra… 5. Their fighting…
The mirror pronouns are used for emphasis. They reflect the action back to the subject. For example:
- Melania herself caused the problem.
This sentence makes it clear that the problem was caused exclusively by the subject, Melania. You just need to remember two things: Don't overuse this kind of pronoun, and when you do use one, choose the correct form. You can review the mirror pronouns in the chart provided earlier. The following usage is correct:
- You yourself asked me to take on this project.
- Yourself reflects the asking back to the subject, you.
The following example is incorrect:
- My boss suggested the project to Harry and myself.
This sentence is an example of the overused mirror pronoun. What's wrong with this use of myself? Locate the subject and verb: boss (subject), suggested (verb). Project is the object of the verb suggested. Is there any word that myself can logically mirror? No. Also, if you recall, the word to is a preposition and it can be used to introduce a prepositional phrase (to Harry and myself). If written correctly, a prepositional phrase ends with an object noun or pronoun. As the pronoun chart indicates, me is the object pronoun required in this phrase. The sentence should read:
- My boss suggested the project to Harry and me.
Mirror Pronouns Practice and Answers
Delete the incorrect pronoun and insert the correct one in each of the following sentences.
- They took their cat and theirselves to the beach.
- Larry and myself eat lunch together every day.
- Marty asked hisself an important question.
- All of you yourself have to make that decision.
- Ken sent an email to the team leader and ourself.
1. …their cat and themselves… 2. Larry and I… 3. Marty asked himself… 4. All of you have to make that decision yourselves… 5. …to the team leader and us.
Relative pronouns allow you to show the relationship between a subordinate clause and the main clause. The main clause is always the one that can stand alone, while the subordinate clause cannot. A relative pronoun links the two. Of course, since these words are pronouns, they—just as all other pronouns—can stand in for nouns. For example:
Willie left the office to visit Mike, who was recovering in the hospital.
The relative pronoun who links the main clause, Willie left the office to visit Mike, to the subordinate clause, who was recovering in the hospital.
The subordinate clause is a fragment if it stands lone:
- Can stand alone: Willie left the office to visit Mike.
- Cannot stand alone: who was recovering in the hospital.
Relative pronouns include both definite and indefinite varieties. Definite pronouns are which, that, and who or whom. Indefinite pronouns include what, which, who, whatever, whoever, and whomever. The major difference between definite and indefinite pronouns is that, once again, the choice is ruled by the word's function. Definite pronouns can stand in for a noun in the sentence:
Jorge married Marielle, who had a child from her first marriage.
In this sentence, who stands in for Marielle. In addition, you should know that the name Marielle is the antecedent, which is the word that comes before and relates to the pronoun—in this case, who.
Who, Whom, That, or Which?
Remember a few simple rules regarding the pronouns who, whom, that, and which. Once again, some pronouns can be used as subjects, while others are objects. Remember this when you are trying to choose between who and whom:
- Who is the CEO of the company? (Who is the subject of the sentence.)
- Whom did you vote for in the election? (Turn the question around: You did vote for whom in the election? You is the subject, did vote is the verb, and whom is the object of the preposition for.)
It may not be much consolation, but many, many people confuse the use of the words who and whom. Your goal should be to use them correctly, but don't be surprised if you frequently hear and see them used incorrectly.
Here are other important rules:
- Use who and whom to refer to people: I didn't know who you were until yesterday.
- Use that to refer to people, animals, and things: The trip that I loved took us to Italy.
If you want to ask a question, you will at some point need to use a question pronoun—what, which, who, or whom. For example:
- Who took my pen?
- What is today, Saturday or Sunday?
- Who knows?
- Whom do you ask for advice? (Notice the objective form, whom. Turn the sentence around to distinguish between the subject and the object: You do ask whom for advice? You is the subject and whom is the object.)
Consider which question pronoun is correct in each of the following sentences:
- (Who/Whom) left early?
Who is correct because it is the subject of the sentence.
- About (who/whom) were you speaking?
Whom is correct because it is the object of the preposition about.
Distinguish between that and which—a frequent error—according to the kind of clause you use, one that is critical and necessary to the sentence or one that is not. Which clauses require commas to show that this part of the sentence could be left out:
- Her dog, which barks every morning at 5 A.M., should live on a farm.
In this sentence, the clause, which barks every morning, is not absolutely critical to the meaning of the sentence. The main part of the sentence could stand on its own:
- Her dog should live on a farm.
The pronoun which is called parenthetical: as you can see, it is incidental and can be left out of the sentence without affecting the meaning. Other examples:
- The coat, which is Robert's, was found in the theater.
- The coat—whether or not it belongs to Robert—was found in the theater.
- The house, which my brother designed, will be ready for spring occupancy.
- The house—whether or not my brother designed it—will be ready for spring occupancy.
On the other hand, that clauses are critical to the meaning of a sentence:
- The dress that Avi designed sold the most.
The word that tells who designed the dress that sold the most.
- The computer that is on Inga's desk is the next to be updated.
The word that tells which computer of all the ones in the office is next to be updated.
That, those, these, and this are pronouns that point to the thing being talked about. Again, the demonstrative pronoun has to be able to take the place of a noun, just as all pronouns do. In some contexts, however, the demonstrative pronoun does the job of an adjective; it describes the noun. For example:
- Those are my choices for the dinner menu. (Those means the same as the word choices and can stand in for it.)
- Pronoun: This is my new computer. (This means the same as the word computer and can stand in for it.)
- Adjective: This computer has so much more memory. (This describes computer and acts like an adjective.)
Demonstrative Pronouns Practice and Answers
For each of the following sentences, decide whether the demonstrative pronoun functions as a pronoun or an adjective.
- These are the CDs I just bought. __________
- Those CDs were not my first choice. __________
- I gave this same schedule to everyone. __________
- That is a very big job! __________
- This is my first project for the company. __________
1. demonstrative pronoun (These) 2. adjective (Those) 3. adjective (this) 4. demonstrative pronoun (That) 5. demonstrative pronoun (This)
Indefinite pronouns are just that—unclear. They replace nouns without specifying which ones they replace. In other words, they do not take the place of particular nouns.
Singular indefinite pronouns: another, anybody, anyone, anything, each, either, everybody, everyone, everything, little, much, neither, nobody, no one, nothing, one, other, somebody, someone, something
Plural indefinite pronouns: both, few, many, others, several
Singular or plural indefinite pronouns: all, any, more, most, none, some
The confusion surrounding indefinite pronouns has to do with deciding their number and gender. Singular indefinite pronouns take singular verbs or singular personal pronouns. For example:
- Incorrect: Each of the members have one vote.
- Correct: Each of the members has one vote.
Because the subject each is singular, has is correct.
- Incorrect: One of the girls gave up their seat.
- Correct: One of the girls gave up her seat.
Because her refers to one, it is singular.
As you would expect, plural indefinite pronouns take plural verbs or plural personal pronouns:
- Correct: A few of the teenagers were voicing their disapproval.
Because the subject few is plural, so are the verbs were and their.
Because some indefinite pronouns can be singular or plural, your choice depends on what the indefinite pronoun refers to:
- Correct: All of the people clapped their hands.
Because all refers to people, which is plural, use their, a plural pronoun.
- Correct: All of the delivery was soaked.
Because all refers to delivery, which is singular, use a singular verb, was.
The pronouns that end with -body or -one, such as anybody, somebody, no one, or anyone, are singular. Each and every are singular, while words such as all or some may be singular. That means that a possessive pronoun referring to these singular words must also be singular:
- Each boy received his gift as he left the party.
In former times, standard written English allowed the use of the pronoun his to refer to a singular indefinite pronoun whether or not genders were clear:
- Each received his gift as he left the party.
Today, if you don't know whether all who attended were male, you need to write his or hers:
- Each received his or her gift as he or she left the party.
This makes an awkward sentence. A better alternative is to rewrite the sentence:
- Upon leaving, each guest received a gift. (Each guest could be male or female.)
- Upon leaving, guests received their gifts.
Guests, plural, could be male or female. Plural personal pronouns, such as their, in English are neither masculine nor feminine.
Be sure to use singular indefinite pronouns with singular verbs or singular personal pronouns.
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