There are five forms of pronouns in English:
- Subject pronouns
- Object pronouns
- Possessive adjectives
- Possessive pronouns
- Reflexive pronouns
1. Subject pronouns:
Subject pronouns occur in the SUBJECT POSITION of a sentence or after the verb BE: I, you, he/she/it, we you, they.
I am going to the store.
We have lived here for twenty years
She and I have seen this movie before
We students are going to have a party
2. Object pronouns:
Object pronouns occur in COMPLEMENT POSITION of AFTER prepositions. — unless the preposition introduces a new clause. Study the following list:
The teacher gave him a bad grade
John told her a story
The policeman was looking for him (after preposition for)
To us, it seems like a good bargain (after preposition to)
Mary is going to class with me (after preposition with)
However, remember that if the preposition introduces a new clause, the pronoun will be subject form because it is actually in the SUBJECT POSITION OF THE SECOND CLAUSE:
Se will leave after he comes (he comes = second clause)
3. Possessive adjectives:
Possessive adjectives ARE NOT THE SAME as possessive pronouns. Possessive pronouns replace nouns. Possessive forms indicate OWNERSHIP. Look at the following list:
John is eating his dinner.
This is not my book.
The cat has injured its foot.
The boy broke his arm yesterday.
She forgot her homework this morning
My food is cold.
Note: Its — is not the same as It’s. It’s means it is.
4. Possessive pronouns:
These pronouns CANNOT precede a noun. They are pronouns and thus replace the noun.
Look at the following list:
mine = my + noun; for example, my book
yours = your + noun; for example, your pen
hers = her + noun; for example, her dress
Some examples of possessive pronouns:
- This is my book. This is mine.
- Your teacher is the same as his teacher. Yours is the same as his.
- Her dress is green and my dress is red. Hers is green and mine is red.
- Our books are heavy. Ours are heavy.
- Their coats are too small. Theirs are too small.
- I forgot my homework. I forgot mine.
5. Reflexive pronouns:
These pronouns usually FOLLOW THE VERB and indicate that the subject is both giving and receiving the action. Study the following list:
- ourselves *)
- yourselves *)
- themselves *)
*)In the plural, the self changes to selves.
Compare this 2 sentences:
- John bought him a new car. ( him = another person)
- John bought himself a new car. (himself = John)
Some examples of reflexive pronouns:
I washed myself.
He sent the letter to himself
She served herself in the cafeteria.
We hurt ourselves playing football.
They were talking among themselves.
You can see the difference for yourselves.
Note: Reflexive pronouns can also be used for emphasis. This mean that the subject DID the action alone. In this case, it normally follows the subject:
I myself believe that the proposal is good.
He himself set out to break the long distance flying record.
She herself prepared the nine-course meal.
The students themselves decorated the room.
You yourself must do this homework.
John himself bought these gifts.
Note: by + reflexive pronoun can also mean alone.
John washed the dishes by himself — John washed the dishes alone.
SOURCE: Cliffs Notes, by Michael A. Pyle, M.A./Mary Ellen Munoz, M.A./Series Editor: Jerry Bobrow, Ph.D.