Pronouns

The part of speech which includes words like it, you, they, he, somebody, anything and who. A pronoun is usually a single word, and it forms a complete noun phrase all by itself. Pronouns are divided into several subclasses:

  • Personal pronouns (like me and she)
  • Interrogative pronouns (like who and what)
  • Relative pronouns (like who and which)
  • Indefinite pronouns (like somebody and anything)
  • Demonstrative pronouns (like this and those)
  • Reflexive pronouns (like myself and themselves)
  • Reciprocal pronouns (like each other and one another)
  • Possessive pronouns (like mine and hers)

Reciprocal pronouns

A construction which indicates that two or more people or things are acting upon one another in the same way.

In English, reciprocal constructions are expressed with the reciprocal pronouns each other and one another.

Examples are:

  • The suspects blamed one another for the crime.
  • They sat for two hours without talking to each other.

Reflexive pronoun

Any construction which indicates that two noun phrases in a sentence refer to the same person(s) or thing(s).

In English, a reflexive sentence contains a reflexive pronoun. Examples are: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, themselves and yourselves.

  • I cut myself shaving this morning.
  • Alice doesn’t know what to do with herself.
  • Peter saw himself in the mirror.

Relative pronoun

A pronoun which introduces a relative clause. The English relative pronouns are who, whom, whose, which and that.

In most cases, the use of a relative pronoun is optional in English, and informal speech favours its omission. In the following examples, the relative pronoun is optional.

  • The woman (who) you were talking to is my boss.
  • Paris is a city (that) I have always wanted to visit.

That is common as a relative pronoun in identifying clauses. It can refer to things, and in an informal style to people. In non-identifying clauses, that is unusual.

  • Have you got a book that (or which) is really easy to read?
  • I lent him ‘Pride and Prejudice’, which is really easy to read. (NOT I lent him ‘Pride and Prejudice’ that is really easy to read.)
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Manjusha Nambiar

I am the founder and editor of http://www.perfectyourenglish.com, http://www.ielts-practice.org, and http://ncertguides.com

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