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Personal pronouns in Sentence Correction

In this lesson we would like to focus your attention on PRONOUNS as SC gives lots of sentences with mistakes connected to this part of speech. Wrong answers may misuse pronouns.

To avoid pronoun errors you need to be well aware of pronoun types and their usage.

The Function of Pronouns in the English Language

A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun (the noun it replaces is called the antecedent); and without pronouns people would find themselves constantly having to repeat the same nouns over and over and over again. For example, look at this sentence:

  • Tom loves football almost as much as Tom loves Tom’s wife, Sue; but Tom isn’t about to tell Sue that Tom regards football a bit more highly than he regards Sue since Sue would probably then divorce Tom; and Tom wouldn’t blame Sue in the least.

Obviously, such wording is repetitious, redundant, and confusing. Using pronouns to replace nouns allows people to express themselves with conciseness, as well as clarity. For example, look at the same sentence when most of the nouns, but not all, have been replaced with pronouns:

  • Tom loves football almost as much as he loves his wife, Sue; but Tom isn’t about to tell Sue that he regards football a bit more highly than he regards her since she would probably then divorce him, and he wouldn’t blame her in the least.

Different Types of Pronouns in the English Language

There are seven different kinds of pronouns: personal, demonstrative, indefinite, intensive, reflexive, interrogative, and relative.
Each of the different pronouns plays a particular role within the structure of a sentence. It’s important to note, however, that certain words can be classified as more than one type of pronoun depending upon how they are being used. For example, “that” can be either a demonstrative pronoun or as a relative pronoun, depending upon its usage within a sentence.

Definition and Examples of Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns function as noun equivalents within the structure of a sentence (subject, direct object, indirect object, subject complement, object of a preposition). Either singular or plural, they distinguish between the individual speaking (first person—I, me, we, us), the individual spoken to (second person—you), and the individual spoken about (third person—he, she, it, her, him, they, them). Some examples:

  • After he caught the football, Tom threw it to Frank.
  • Frank shouted, “I’ve got it,” then missed it completely.
  • Tom said, “You can’t catch worth a hoot.”
  • Tom and Frank have been friends since they were in high school.

Note: Personal pronouns can also be possessive, meaning they show ownership. These include, but are not limited to, such words as “his, hers, ours, yours,” etc. Some examples:

  • Tom said the Atlanta Falcons was his choice for the Super Bowl.
  • Sue asked, “Did you forget our anniversary—again?”

Definition and Examples of the Other Six Pronouns

In addition to personal pronouns, there are six other types in the English language:
Demonstrative: These identify or point to specific individuals or things and serve as the subjects of verbs. There are four demonstrative pronouns: “this, that, these” and “those.” Some examples:

  • Tom said, “This is my box of Girl Scout Cookies.”
  • Tom said, “These are my cookies, so don’t let anyone else eat one.”
  • Sue said, “That is a ridiculous demand, and you’re being selfish.”
  • Those were Tom’s cookies, but Sue gave them to the dog.

Note: The same four words can also act as demonstrate adjectives, but when acting in that role, they precede nouns, for example, “This box of cookies is Tom’s.”
Indefinite: These do not indicate specific individuals or things, and there are quite a few indefinite pronouns, including but not limited to words like “anybody, something, anything, someone, none, each, more, most,” etc. Two examples:

  • Wrinkling her nose in disgust, Sue said, “Something in this room stinks.”
  • Tom said, “It’s not me or anything I’m wearing.”

Intensive: These are used to emphasize a particular noun or another pronoun, for example, “yourself, himself, themselves, itself,” etc. Two examples:

  • Tom thought he himself had a better understanding of the problem than anyone else.
  • Sue shouted, “I myself will do it!”

Reflexive: These are formed exactly like intensive pronouns, but show that the subject acts, acted, or is acting upon itself. Two examples:

  • Tom hurt himself playing football.
  • Sue told herself she shouldn’t laugh when Tom hurt himself, but she laughed anyway.

Interrogative: These are used to introduce questions and include “who, what, whose, whom,” and “which.” Two examples:

  • Sue asked, “What do you want for dinner, steak or meatloaf?”
  • Tom said, “Which do you prefer?”

Relative: These introduce dependent (subordinate) clauses and include “who, whose, which” and “that.” Two examples:

  • The house that is next door to Tom’s is for sale.
  • The old man who owns the house wants to move because he thinks Tom is crazy.

In conclusion, although there are far fewer pronouns than nouns in the English language, one might argue they are just as important since these little words play an extremely important role when it comes to effective SC task solving.


2Материал подготовила Елена Нещерет, TOEFL/IELTS/GMAT консультант компании MBA Strategy

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