Pronoun masterclass

This post helps us understand what a pronoun in English is, how it is used, how many types of pronouns we have, and how to use them.

What is a pronoun in English?

A pronoun is a word that replaces or is used in place of a noun. There are a variety of different pronouns in English, and each one of them has a distinct function to perform in a sentence. 

The most commonly used pronoun in English is a personal pronoun. It is mainly used to replace a noun (name of a person or thing) and eliminate redundancy.

Pronouns can do way more than just replace a noun.

Tina is coming to Delhi tomorrow. She will be here by 11 am.

In this example, the pronoun ‘she‘ is used to refer to the noun ‘Tina’ as the readers already know that the speaker is talking about her.

But it, sometimes, can also give the readers clarity in terms of the gender of the noun it refers to without it being clear in the sentence. Check out the following example:

I have a close friend, and she will definitely help you with this problem.

“I have a close friend, and she will definitely help you with this problem.”

In this example, the pronoun ‘she‘ refers to the noun ‘friend‘, which doesn’t specify the gender it refers to. But the pronoun ‘she‘ not only replaces it but also clarifies the gender of the noun ‘friend‘.

types of pronouns infographic

Types of pronouns in English 

There are 8 types of pronouns in English:

  • Personal pronoun
  • Possessive pronoun
  • Demonstrative pronoun
  • Reflexive pronoun 
  • Emphatic pronoun
  • Indefinite pronoun
  • Distributive pronoun 
  • Relative pronoun
  • Interrogative pronoun

Personal pronoun

A personal pronoun, as the name suggests, is a word that replaces a name of a person or thing. It is the most used pronoun in English.

“I can’t express in words how much I love my friend Mangesh, but Mangesh never expresses his love to me. Mangesh is a man of few words and doesn’t like to open his heart or even share a hug. It gets frustrating sometimes, but I still love Mangesh with all my heart.”

Does it not look that the writer has overused the noun ‘Mangesh‘? Does it not sound repetitive? To ensure that it doesn’t happen in sentences, we use a personal pronoun. It helps the writer refer to the name of the person (or thing) without taking their name again and again.

Try replacing Mangesh with a personal pronoun in the right form (subjective or objective) after its first mention.

I can’t express in words how much I love my friend Mangesh, but he (subjective) never expresses his love to me. He (subjective) is a man of few words and doesn’t like to open his heart or even share a hug. It gets frustrating sometimes, but I still love him (objective) with all my heart.


  • Jon is a fraud, and you shouldn’t trust him.
  • I love challenging myself.
  • Nancy can probably get the work done as she knows some people on the board.
  • He is the right person for this job. I promise you that you’d regret selecting him later. 
  • They are not coming tonight.
  • We will not be wasting time now.
  • Do you know her?
  • Does it ring a bell?
Subject pronounsObject pronounsPossessive pronounsPossessive adjectives

A personal pronoun can be divided into three categories:

  1. Subject pronoun
  2. Object pronoun
  3. Possessive pronoun

Subject pronoun

A subject pronoun, also known as a nominative pronoun, is a personal pronoun that works as the subject of a sentence.


  • We can’t go against Jon. He is our boss.
  • You are amazing at making people laugh.
  • I want to do something for the people of my country.
  • I have heard they are making Sneha the head of the department. She really deserves it.
  • Consume the supplement carefully. It can make you bald.
  • They will take you to Jon’s place. Just follow them.
  • He is an overrated player. I don’t understand why they still have him on the team.

Personal pronouns and the verbs they are used with

Pronouns that are considered singular = he, she, it
Pronouns that are considered plural = we, you, they

NOTE: the subject pronoun ‘I’ is considered singular but takes a plural verb in all tenses.

  • I love working with Jon.
  • I have decided to leave this company.
  • I am not a morning person.

In the Simple Present tense, when the sentence describes the subject, the subject pronoun ‘I’ take the special verb ‘am’. It is not used with any other pronoun or subject.

Object pronoun

An object pronoun, also known as an objective pronoun, refers to a person and is used as the object of a verb or the object of a preposition.


  • Everyone loves you.
  • I haven’t invited them to the party.
  • Tom is a lovely person, and we love talking to him.
  • Why didn’t you tell him that the company is about to fire him soon?
  • You should call her right now and ask her what she feels about you.
  • You can trust us. We won’t tell on you.
  • Monica and I had a fight last night. I just can’t live with her anymore.
  • Was he saying anything about me?

Possessive pronoun

A possessive pronoun refers to the possession of a person or a thing, usually a person. It can function as the subject, object, and subject complement.


  • I bought a car after driving yours. (object of a verb)
  • Your mother takes pride in talking about your work, but mine hates what I do. (subject)
  • This house is not mine; it’s hers. (subject complement)
  • I can’t eat this. It is yours. (subject complement)
  • You all can play with my toys, but I can’t play with yours. (object of a preposition)
  • Max and Pam live together, and the dog you saw the other day was theirs. (subject complement)
  • This car is strong. The other cars don’t have strong build quality, but its is absolutely amazing. (subject)
  • Our children are a bit naughty, but theirs are evil. (subject)

In the last example, ‘its‘ refers to the build quality of the car the speaker is calling strong in the example. With possessive pronouns, the possession of the person/thing is understood through the context. Using the possession after the possessives definitely makes it easy for the readers to understand the possession, but it changes the role of the word, from a possessive pronoun to a possessive adjective.

  • This car is strong. The other cars don’t have a strong build quality, but its is absolutely amazing. (possessive pronoun)
  • This car is strong. The other cars don’t have a strong build quality, but its build quality is absolutely amazing. (possessive adjective)
  • I am not worried about my job. I am worried about your job. (possessive adjective)
  • I am not worried about my job. It’s yours that I am worried about. (possessive pronoun)
  • I am not worried about my job. I am worried about yours. (possessive pronoun)

NOTE: the noun a possessive pronoun refers to has to be there in the sentence in the previous sentence/s or in the same one. Without it being there, the readers wouldn’t be able to identify it.

Mine does not provide it.

We don’t know what the speaker is referring to. We need more context, and the noun it refers to has to be there.

Every company offers job training to their employees, but mine does not provide it.

The possession the possessive pronoun ‘mine‘ refers to is clear as its possession (the noun ‘company‘) is mentioned in the sentence.

Demonstrative pronoun 

A demonstrative pronoun refers to a noun in terms of its number (singular or plural) and its vicinity (how close it is) to the speaker in terms of space or time.

There are 4 demonstrative pronouns in English:

  • This
  • That
  • These
  • Those
Demonstrative pronounsVicinity (time or space)Number (singular/plural)Examples
THISclose to the speakersingular
1. This is my house. (pointing out something in terms of space )

2. This is a wonderful time we are living in. (pointing out time)
THATfar away from the speakersingular
1. That was a perfect evening. (time reference)

2. That is my house. (space reference)
THESEclose to the speakerplural
1. These are my friends. (space)

2. I love these, but the doctor has advised me to avoid cheese-based items. (space)
THOSEfar away from the speakerplural
1. Those were the days when we could eat absolutely anything and wouldn’t get fat. (time)

2. Those are not my friends. (space)

More examples:

  • This is the shop I was talking about the other day.
  • I love eating this.
  • Have you seen this before?
  • Try this. It will look good on you.
  • Look at this.
  • What is that?
  • That is about a kilometer away.
  • Can you see that without your spectacles on?
  • We can’t afford that. It looks too expensive.
  • These are imported from Japan.
  • I love these. They are beautiful.
  • I think these are the types of things that change one’s life.
  • Those are the people that live in my society.
  • Have you driven any of those?

When demonstratives (this, that, these, and those) are followed by a noun, they function as an adjective called a demonstrative adjective.

  • This changed my life. (pronoun)
  • This book changed my life. (adjective)
  • Look at that. (pronoun)
  • Look at that man. (adjective)
  • These cost more than my house. (pronoun)
  • These watches cost more than my house. (adjective)
  • Those are not mine. (pronoun)
  • Those plants are not mine. (adjective)

Reflexive pronoun 

A reflexive pronoun is used when the subject (the doer or the focus) and the object of the verb or the preposition are the same person. What a reflexive pronoun does is that it reflects back to the subject. It’s an image of the subject, in other words.

Reflexive pronouns in English:

  • Myself
  • Ourselves
  • Yourself
  • Yourselves 
  • Himself
  • Herself 
  • Itself

Joe blames himself for what happened at the party.

Notice that the object of the verb and its doer is the same person: Joe. The subject performs the action on himself.

I slapped myself multiple times.

We slap something or someone, meaning we need an object to complete this action as it’s transitive. Here, the subject does the action on themselves.

More examples:

  • You are just thinking about yourself at the moment.
  • I believe in myself.
  • We shouldn’t doubt ourselves
  • She killed herself with a knife.
  • The dog bit itself.
  • Most people don’t appreciate themselves enough for the things they achieve.

Intensive pronoun

An intensive pronoun refers to a noun or pronoun, which is the subject of a clause, and emphasizes it.

It adds emphasis or attention to the fact the noun it refers to actually did the action. Note that an intensive pronoun can be removed from the sentence without making it ungrammatical.

Here are the intensive pronouns in English:

  • Myself
  • Ourselves 
  • Yourself 
  • Yourselves 
  • Himself 
  • Herself 
  • Itself

Max prepared the entire report himself.

The word ‘himself‘ is an intensive pronoun in the sentence, focusing on the subject. It might be hard for the readers to believe that Max prepared the report all by himself, and that’s why the intensive pronoun is employed in the sentence to focus on Max and point out that he actually did the action alone. 

I myself am a lawyer. I know these billboards are not legally placed.

Here, the speaker has put the focus on themselves to stand this piece of information out: I am a lawyer. The speaker has done this to bring attention to them being a lawyer.

More examples:

  • You can’t do it yourself. It’s way too complex for you.
  • Unlike everyone else, I prepared the questionnaire myself.
  • She herself is a lawyer. Don’t try to teach her what the law says here.
  • I saw them going behind your back myself.
  • You have no right to talk about discipline. You yourself have been coming late to the office lately.
  • Jyoti herself needs a job. How can you expect her to get you a job?

Indefinite pronoun

An indefinite pronoun refers to a person or thing without being specific, meaning the noun it refers to is not made specific in the sentence it is used.

Here are the indefinite pronouns in English:

  • Someone
  • Anyone
  • Everyone
  • No one
  • Everything
  • Nothing
  • All
  • Some
  • Much
  • A few
  • Several
  • Both
  • Many
  • Others
  • Another
  • Either
  • Neither
  • Enough
  • Little
  • None

Singular indefinite pronouns

  • Someone
  • Anyone
  • Something
  • Anything
  • Nothing
  • Everyone
  • Everything
  • Much
  • Each
  • One
  • Another
  • Little
  • Enough
  • Either
  • Neither

Plural indefinite pronouns

  • Both
  • A few
  • Several
  • Others
  • Many
  • Fewer
  • All

Indefinite pronouns that can be singular or plural

  • Some
  • Such
  • Most
  • All
  • None


  • Everyone in the family knows that I don’t smoke.
  • Someone went behind your back and betrayed you.
  • Everyone makes mistakes here and there. No one is perfect.
  • No one knows much about the new economic policy.
  • Everyone participated in the quiz except a few.
  • He has two sports cars. Both are exceptionally expensive.
  • I checked all the papers. Some were absolutely amazing, and some were too bad.
  • All the files are still there; none is yet checked.
  • Much has been said about my contribution to this company.
  • All is well that ends well.
  • There are people in thousands standing in the queue. Most are from Delhi, and some are from other states.

Each, either, and neither are also commonly known as distributive pronouns.

Distributive pronoun

A distributive pronoun refers to the members of a group separately. It distributes the verb amongst the group of people or things it refers to.

In other words, the impact of its verb is shared by more than one member of the group without them being definite. Distributive pronouns are nothing but indefinite pronouns as they don’t make the targeted nouns specific.

Either, neither, and each are the distributive pronouns in English.

Eachevery part/member of the group
Eitherany one of the two items of a group
Neithernot any member of a group of two members


  • There were 10 players on the team, and each was committed to the goal of the team.
  • Each of us was questioned about the robbery.
  • We presented two different papers on the subject, and neither was selected by the department.
  • He’s got two offers on the table. I would be extremely happy to take either.
  • We bought two books the other day. Neither was worth reading.
  • Neither of you deserves to be invited to my wedding.

Relative pronoun

A relative pronoun sits next to a noun and refers to it. It comes at the beginning of a relative clause, which is another name for an adjective clause.

Relative pronounsUsage
Thatrefers to both people and things
Whichrefers to things
Whorefers to people
Whomrefers to people
Whoserefers to the possession of a person/thing
Whyrefers to a reason
Whenrefers to a time word
Whererefers to a place word

We are talking about the man who came to buy our house.

The word ‘who‘ is the relative pronoun in the sentence. It refers to the noun ‘man‘ and works as the subject of the relative clause (who came to buy our house).

The movie that we watched last month was about a man who loses his family in an accident.

That and who are the two relative pronouns here. The pronoun ‘that‘ refers to the noun ‘movie’ and works as the object of the relative clause (that we watched), and the pronoun ‘who‘ refers to the noun ‘man’ and works as the subject of the relative clause (who loses his family in an accident).

More examples:

  • The reason why I am here is because I wanted to check on you.
  • I don’t like the guy whom you hired for the coding work.
  • The Family Man, which is my favorite web series, has amazing actors in it.
  • People who exercise daily are less prone to health issues.
  • Do you know a place where we can have the next meeting?
  • She still remembers the time when I proposed to her.
  • Jon Mayers, whose father is a famous news anchor, is one of my college friends.
  • He is the man whose daughter you are seeing.
  • The phone that I gifted her was a rare piece that was created in space.

In the above examples, the relative pronouns are italicized and the relative clauses they are a part of are underlined.

Interrogative pronoun

An interrogative pronoun is used at the beginning of an interrogative sentence and forms a question. The following are the interrogative pronouns in Engish: what, who, whom, whose, and which.


  • What do you want from me?
  • What is the answer?
  • Who told you about my project?
  • Whom are you working with these days?
  • Whose was the dog you were playing with?
  • Which is your favorite team?
  • A small kid is crying inconsolably at the main gate. Whose is it?
  • Which of these paintings would you want to buy?
  • Who taught you how to paint? You are amazing at it.
  • Whom do you call at a bad time?

Practice set!

Fill in the blanks with an appropriate pronoun type:

  1. Some of ___ need to work on this.

a) we
b) these
c) his
d) us

2. She is not as smart as you think ___ is.

a) her
b) she
c) you
d) it

3. They gave me two options. I didn’t like _____.

a) either
b) both
c) them
d) it

4. Don’t look at ___. I didn’t do anything.

a) me
b) us
c) it
d) this

5. ____ are my best friends. I love ____.

a) they, you
b) these, them
c) this, them
d) these, themselves

6. I don’t think you have done this ____.

a) myself
b) yourself
c) yourselves
d) yours

7. Does talking to ___ makes me strange?

a) myself
b) me
c) I
d) mine

8. He hates the gift ___ I gave him last year.

a) which
b) what
c) whose
d) that

9. ______ stole my bike last night. I want to find out who that is.

a) someone
b) he
c) they
d) that

10. ___ did you learn this from?

a) whom
b) what
c) they
d) whose


  1. us
  2. she
  3. either
  4. me
  5. these, them
  6. yourself
  7. myself
  8. that
  9. someone
  10. whom

Now, we know everything about pronouns. Feel free to share your question, doubt, or feedback in the comment section, and also, share the post with the people that need it.

For one-on-one classes, contact me at [email protected].

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Ashish found his first love—the English language—a few years back. Since then, he has been immersed in the language, breaking down the language and teaching it to passionate English learners. He has a flair for listening to the English language (podcasts, sitcoms, stories), observing the nuances, and making it easy for English learners. He is known for breaking down complex English topics and making them easy to be understood.

2 thoughts on “Pronoun masterclass”

  1. Thanks for sharing and thereby allowing and helping others with your excellent explanations, examples, and practice exercises..much appreciated


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