Pronoun

Pronouns are words we use to replace a noun. It prevents us from using the same noun over and over again. Observe this short paragraph:

  • Abdullah and I are brothers. Abdullah and I enjoy reading and computing. Every week, Mr. Tan gives Abdullah and I computing classes for free.

Notice that “Abdullah and I” is repeated twice. To avoid repetition of nouns, you have to use pronouns. So, the paragraph above should look like this:

  • Abdullah and I are brothers. We enjoy reading and computing. Every week, Mr. Tan gives us computing classes for free.

Notice also that different forms of pronouns are used in different positions in the sentence. In the example above, the pronouns “we” and “us” are used. Here are all the possible pronouns that can be used in sentences:

1st person

2nd person

3rd person

Subject Singular

I

You

He/She

Plural

We

You

They

Object Singular

Me

You

Him/Her

Plural

Us

You

Them

Possessive Adjectives Singular

My

Your

His/Her

Plural

Our

Your

Their

Possessive Pronouns Singular

Mine

Yours

His/Hers

Plural

Ours

Yours

Theirs

Using the same example:

  • Abdullah and I are brothers. We enjoy reading and computing. Every week, Mr. Tan gives us computing classes for free.

The pronoun “we” is the subject of the sentence: “We enjoy…”
The pronoun “us” is the object of the word “gives”: “Mr. Tan gives us ...”

Reflexive Pronoun:

Another type of pronoun. It is use to point to oneself, which is why reflexive pronouns always end in either the “-self” for singular, or “-selves” for plural pronouns. Here are some examples:

  1. I made this origami (by) myself. – [No one helped me make it.]
  2. You have to answer these questions (by) yourself. – [No one is allowed to help you; you’re on your own.]
  3. John made the cookies (by) himself. – [No one helped him make the cookies.]
  4. The children went home (by) themselves. – [No one took them home; they went home on their own.]
  5. Both of us went there ourselves. – [No one else went there with us.]

Using “by” with reflexive pronouns:

In all the above examples, the preposition “by” could be used before the reflexive pronoun but it’s often optional. However, in some instances, it is mandatory to include the word “by”. Compare these two and see if you can tell the difference in meaning.

  1. I cooked myself.
  2. I cooked [something] by myself.

In the first sentence, it doesn’t make sense to put yourself in a pot and cook your own self!! That’s what the sentence actually means.

Yourself or yourselves?

Actually, both are correct. Use “yourself” if you’re referring to only one person – you. Use “yourselves” if you’re referring to a group of people – students, for instance. Look at the following examples:

  1. Did you come here by yourself?
  2. Did both of you come here by yourselves?

Using “for” with reflexive pronouns:

The same examples are used but take note of the differences in meaning.

  1. I made this origami for myself.
  2. John made the cookies for himself.

In Example #1 above, the sentence appears to indicate that I’m keeping that origami, so no one shall have it. In Example #2, John made the cookies because he wanted to eat it, and he probably wouldn’t share it with anyone. As you can see, “by” and “for” cannot be interchanged. They both give different meaning to sentences.

There is another type of pronoun called relative pronoun. Click here for further details.

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Posted on July 9, 2009, in Word Classes and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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