Return to the Say-it-in-English Entry Page

Return to the List of Lessons

Learn to Write English Clearly and Correctly

Set 2 - Lesson 26 ( Go to the Answer Key )


Lesson 26, Plenty of Pronouns:

There are several different types of pronouns.  They all have a role to play in English.  There are Personal Pronouns (covered in Basic English, lesson 5), Compound Personal Pronouns, Interrogative Pronouns, Demonstrative Pronouns, Indefinite Pronouns and Relative Pronouns.  This lesson will cover the last five types.

Compound Personal Pronouns:

Singular Plural
myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself ourselves, yourselves, themselves

page break

The two uses for these Compound Personal Pronouns are as Reflexive Pronouns  and as Intensive Pronouns.

Reflexive Pronouns act as the object of the verb, but they reflect the action back to the subject.  The Reflexive Pronoun will always be the same person or thing as the Subject.  Here are some examples:

I almost shot myself with the pistol. The dirty stray dog constantly scratched itself.
You dressed yourself today, didn't you. Fred and I treated ourselves to a movie.
He threw himself onto the floor. When the whole class is finished with the quiz, I want you to grade yourselves.
Sally prettied herself up for the dance. Tom and Joe almost destroyed themselves when they tried to jump the high fence.

page break

NOTE: When you use a Reflexive Pronoun, there must ALWAYS be a word in the sentence that refers to the same person or thing.  In the sentences above, I and MYSELF are the same person; SALLY and HERSELF are the same person; DOG and ITSELF are the same thing.

Ways in which one should NOT use reflexive pronouns:

  • My brother and myself will be glad to help you. (The correct way is: My brother and I will be glad ......)
  • The Mayor sent an invitation to Mr. Smith and ourselves.  (Correct way: Mr. Smith and us.)

Intensive Pronouns simply add force or emphasis to a noun or pronoun that is already in the sentence.


I prepared the meal myself. He tried to paint the house himself.
You yourself must deliver the package. Jack and Jill themselves were unable to fetch a pail of water.

  Interrogative Pronouns:

As their name implies, these pronouns are used in asking questions.  There are only three:  WHO, WHICH, WHAT.  The first one, however, has three forms.  WHO is the subject form; WHOSE is the possessive form; WHOM is the object form.  Each of these pronouns can serve as the subject of a sentence, the object of the verb, or the object of a preposition.  They are called pronouns because they take the place of the noun in a sentence.


Who is the owner of that car? To whom does the car belong?
Which is the car you are referring to? What is the problem with my car?
There are some keys on the kitchen table.  Whose are they? I don't know what your problem is.

Demonstrative Pronouns:

These pronouns point out definite persons, places or things.  There are only two, or four if you count the plural forms separately:  THIS, THESE, THAT, THOSE.  What can often confuse a student of English is the fact that these same words can also be used as adjectives.  How can you tell the difference?  Demonstrative Pronouns are used in place of nouns.  Demonstrative Adjectives are used with nouns.


Demonstrative Pronouns Demonstrative Adjectives
This is my coat. ( This is the subject of the sentence.) This coat belongs to me.  (This modifies the subject COAT)
These used to fit me.  (These is the subject of the sentence.) These shirts must have shrunk in the laundry. (These modifies the subject SHIRT.)
Did you see that?  (that is the object of the verb SEE.) Did you see that crazy driver?  (that modifies the object DRIVER.)
Two more of those would make me sick.  (those is the object of the preposition OF.) Two more of those greasy hot dogs would make me sick. (those modifies the object of the preposition, HOT DOGS.)

Indefinite Pronouns:

This large group of pronouns are called Indefinite because they do NOT point out particular persons, places or things.  They can all be used in place of nouns, which is why they are called pronouns, but they are also a little vague, or INDEFINITE, about how many or which nouns they take the place of.  Here is a list of the most common Indefinite Pronouns.

page break

all everyone one another
any everything ones
anybody few other
anything many others
both neither several
each nobody some
each one none somebody
each other no one someone
either nothing something
everybody one anyone

Here are several examples so you can get a sense of how they are used.

All were ready to leave the party by midnight. It is impossible to satisfy everybody. If I can't have what I want, I would rather have nothing.
Sheila's purse could have been taken by anybody. Everything will be all right in time. Others may be allowed to stay out late, but you are not one of them.
Both tried to go through the doorway at the same time. Few were in the audience to see the horrible play. I was waiting for somebody, but nobody came.

page break

Each one gave their condolences to the grieving couple. Many left during the first intermission. Something just flew over the house.  Did anybody see anything?
The flood victims tried to help each other get to high ground. Neither of the skaters was able to do the triple flip. Most people waited in line patiently, but several tried to push through the door.

Relative Pronouns:

Here we have another case of certain words doing double duty.  Relative Pronouns are who, which, that and what , with who again having the possessive form, whose, and the object form, whom.  Do those words look familiar?  Who, which and what were earlier in the lesson called Interrogative Pronouns.  That was called a Demonstrative Pronoun.  Now we are calling them all Relative Pronouns.  How can you tell what the words are when you see them in a sentence?  This is a good place for a Word of Wisdom.

page break

NOTE:  The grammatical label attached to a word depends more on what job the word is doing in a sentence than on what the word looks like.  Examples:  HIT looks like a verb.  In fact, it can be a verb if it is used like this:  "The car went out of control and HIT a tree."  But what about this sentence:  "In yesterday's baseball game, Don had three HITS."  Now HITS is a noun.  We know this because Don had three of them, and only nouns can be counted.  Next we have "Shirley just had to buy the group's new HIT record."  Now HIT is telling us what kind of record Shirley was buying, which is a job for an Adjective.  The same word, HIT, just had three different grammatical labels.  The same can be true for many words in English, including Who, Which, That and What.  To determine what grammatical label should be stuck on the words, you need to look closely at what position they are filling or what job they are performing in the sentence.

page break

Definition:  A Relative Pronoun joins the clause which it introduces to its own antecedent, the noun or pronoun to which it refers.

"Harry is the driver who won the stock car race."   'who won the stock car race' is an Adjectival Clause which describes driverwho introduces the clause and also refers back to and means the same thing as  driver .

"Those magazines are the ones that we subscribe to."  'that we subscribe to' is another Adjectival Clause, describing ones.  that introduces the clause and means the same thing as ones

Extra Note:  WHO is used whenever the antecedent is a person.  WHICH is used for anything except a person,  THAT is used for persons or things.

Here are some more examples:

This is the bolt which fits into the screen door latch. Those paper hearts are exactly what is needed to finish the decorations.
We got to the party early, which turned out to be a mistake. Harry saw the man whom we visited last week.

There is another group of words called Compound Relative Pronouns which are used in the same way: 

  • whoever
  • whomever
  • whatever
  • whosoever
  • whatsoever
  • whosesoever
  • whichsoever
  • whomsoever
  • whichever


Whoever left his umbrella here last night, please take it home. Whatever was your reason for sending that letter?
We will give it to whomever we please. You may wear whichever you like.

Exercise A:  Circle all of the pronouns in the following passage.  Write above each pronoun what type it is or how it is being used in the sentence.

                               possessive            possessive                                                            compound personal

Example:  John took (his) brother and (mine) to the store so they could buy candy for (themselves).

page break

 I felt terrible when I went to work last Friday.  My back ached and my head ached so much that I told

myself I was crazy for going to work.  Several guys were waiting near the time clock for the bell to

ring.  They had already punched their time cards.  For them, this was just another normal day. 

When I made it to my department, my supervisor asked me which project I would prefer to start

with.  She was so pleasant that I couldn't tell her that I didn't want to work on any of them.  One of

my fellow workers offered to get the job set up for me.  I said to her, "Thanks, but I would rather do it

myself."  At the end of the morning, Sherry said to us all, "Who is going out for lunch?"  Somebody

else asked, "Which place are you going to?"  Sherry ignored the question and said, "Whoever is

going with  me better be ready when the bell rings."

Exercise B:  Circle the correct pronouns in the parentheses in the following sentences.

1. Mrs. Johnson took (his, her, hers) children with (her, herself, them) when (her, she, they) went to the mall.

2. (Their, Them, They)  behaved well for the first hour, but then the boredom began to affect (them, themselves, they).

3. Rodney took off (his, her, their) own hat and left it with (those, these, them) he saw on a store rack.

4. (His, Him, Her) sister, Julia, decided to go shopping (himself, herself, herselves) and wandered away.

5. (Nobody, Some, Someone) called to (her, herself, hers), "Are (we, you, your) lost, little girl?"

6. Julia pretended that (her, she, he) heard (anybody, nobody, none) and kept walking away.

7. Soon, Mrs. Johnson realized that Rodney had no hat and (they, she, we) had no daughter.

8. Without worrying what (nobody, everybody, several) would think, (she, herself, they) called out loudly, "Julia! (Your, You, Yours) get (yourself, yourselves, you self) back here right now!."


Examination:  Write the correct pronouns in the blank spaces in the following sentences.

1. __________ wish ____________ could go to the movies together without _________ little brother.

2. The taxi driver told _________ passenger that _____________ might be late getting to the airport because ________ was the middle of rush hour.

3. Jerry said that __________ hit ______________ with a hammer the last time ____________ tried to hang a picture.

4. Would ____________ believe that ______________ in the office likes the boss?

5. "___________ is the color _____________ want for the walls,"  Ms. Murphy told _________ decorator.

6. ________________ leaves the garage door open should be more careful.

7. " Are ____________ sure that ____________ told ________________ about the surprise party?" Betty asked.

8. "__________ am sure that the job was done right," Herman stated, "because the owner did it _________________."

9.   Mary said _____________ was not going to take the blame for __________________ else's mistakes.

10. "______________ of these sofas do ___________ prefer?"  the salesman asked ____________ customer.

page break

c. 2000-2018 , Montoursville, PA

Hundreds of Popular Songs from the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's.

Get links to the videos of the songs and lyrics, Wikipedia biographies of the artists, and Then and Now photos.

Read American slang in the Lyrics of the songs and read about the history of the singers and bands at .

Return to the top of the page.