The Grammar Guardian presents – Pronouns

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Note: The examples used in this article are a continuation of the Story of Millie Black.  To read Millie’s entire story, go back and start with Nouns.  If you are just here to learn about Pronouns, and not Millie, read on.

In Verbs, we learned about a letter Millie discovers in an envelope given to her by Jake.  The following are the contents of that letter.

Note 2: All photographs are courtesy of Quanta Ignis Photography

What is a pronoun?

In simple terms, a pronoun takes the place of a noun or another pronoun. Without pronouns we would just have to continue repeating nouns over and over again in our sentences. This can get repetitive and bog down our message. Lets take a look at the first two sentences of a letter written by Damien Strange, president of Strange Enterprises to one Miss Millie Black.

Millie, I would like to thank you for the recent service you provided. The trap you set for Gregory and his servants was genius and I am confident they will bother me no longer.

Take a look how these sentences would be different if there were no pronouns.

Millie, Damien would like to thank Millie for the recent service Millie provided. The trap Millie set for Gregory and Gregory’s servants was genius and Damien is confident Gregory and Gregory’s servants will bother Damien no longer.

Cumbersome, isn’t it? However, there is more to know about the proper use of pronouns than just that they exist. Lets look at the different types of pronouns and how they are used.

Types of Pronouns

Personal pronouns

Personal pronouns represent people or things. They come in two types: Subjective and Objective. Subjective pronouns replace nouns that are the subject of the sentence.   These are the nouns that are performing the action of the sentence. Objective pronouns replace nouns that are the objects of a sentence. These are the nouns that the action is happening to. The following table lists the subjective and objective personal pronouns.

Subjective I You He She It We They
Objective Me You Him Her It Us Them

Notice that the words “you” and “it” can be both subjective and objective. Now take a look at a passage from the letter and see if you can pick out the subjective versus objective pronouns.

He had been a thorn in my side for too long and I knew that only you could handle him in the way he deserved. I appreciate the speed with which you acted as well as your discretion. I have transferred your fee along with a bonus to your account. I trust it will be sufficient.

Interrogative pronouns

An interrogative pronoun asks a question. In the question the pronoun is representing the person or thing that the question is about. The following are interrogative pronouns.

Who Whom Whose Which What
Whoever Whomever Whichever Whatever

There are two notes to be aware of when considering interrogative pronouns.

First, if the object of the question is an adjective then the word becomes an interrogative adjective, not an interrogative pronoun.

Second, the –ever on the end of some interrogative pronouns is used to show surprise or emphasis.

My sweet Millie, who could have guessed that we would end up this way? Whatever your feelings for me now, we were so good together.

In the above example the pronoun “who” represents a person. Damien is asking what person could guess the result.

Indefinite pronouns

Indefinite pronouns do not refer to specific nouns or pronouns. There are actually quite a few indefinite pronouns. Take a look at the table to learn what they are. Remember, though, that if they accompany a noun they become adjectives not pronouns.

All Any Anyone Anything Each Everybody
Everything Everyone Few Many Nobody None
One Several Some Somebody Someone

Let’s look at a passage that uses indefinite pronouns, shall we?

Remember the night at Club 52? Everyone’s head turned when you entered the room. I don’t think there was anyone standing when we left.

Demonstrative pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns indicate proximity. They indicate which specific things or people are being referred to. The following are the demonstrative pronouns.

This That These Those

Remember, though, if there is a noun combined with the word it becomes a demonstrative adjective, not a demonstrative pronoun.

Millie, that looked so sexy on you, I could have taken you right then. (demonstrative pronoun)

Millie, that dress looked so sexy on you, I could have taken you right then. (demonstrative adjective)

Relative pronouns

A relative pronoun introduces an adjective clause (which we will learn more about in another post). The description comes after a noun to identify, explain or describe it. The following are relative pronouns.

That Which Who Whom Whose

What happened to us? Your moans, which sounded so sweet in my ears, are missing. That woman, whose body was so soft and warm in my arms, has turned cold.

Reciprocal pronouns

A reciprocal pronoun describes a relationship or mutual action between two things or people. There are two major reciprocal pronouns.

Each other One another

Sandra tries, and we are happy with one another, but know that she will never be you.

Intensive pronouns vs. Reflexive pronouns

Intensive pronouns intensify a noun or another pronoun. These can also be called emphatic pronouns since they provide emphasis. The intensive pronouns are shown below.

Myself Yourself Herself Himself
Itself Ourselves Yourselves Themselves

These same pronouns can also be used as objects in a sentence rather than to convey emphasis or intensity. When they are used in this manner they become reflexive pronouns. Take a look at the following two sentences that illustrate the difference between an intensive pronoun and a reflexive pronoun.

I have explained that to her myself (intensive), and she doesn’t care. She has the boy to keep herself (reflexive) busy these days anyway.

Possessive pronouns

A possessive pronoun shows ownership or possession. There are six possessive pronouns. There are also 8 possessive adjectives that are generally considered possessive pronouns.

Possessive Pronouns Possessive Adjectives
Mine My
Yours Your
His His
Hers Her
Ours Our
Theirs Their
Its
Whose

I know that our relationship now can only be business, Mistress Millie, but know that in my heart you will always be mine. As I am…

Forever Yours,

Damien

Conclusion

Pronouns add both brevity and variety to your writing. The proper use of pronouns can enhance your message and make everything you write flow more smoothly Lets look at the letter as a whole one last time and consider what we have learned about pronouns and what we have learned about Millie.

The Story of Millie Black – Chapter 3 – The Letter

Mistress Millie,

I would like to thank you for the recent service you provided. The trap you set for Gregory and his servants was genius and I am confident they will bother me no longer. He had been a thorn in my side for too long and I knew that only you could handle him in the way he deserved. I appreciate the speed with which you acted as well as your discretion. I have transferred your fee along with a bonus to your account. I trust it will be sufficient.

My sweet Millie, who could have guessed that we would end up this way? Whatever your feelings for me now, we were so good together. Remember the night at Club 52? Everyone’s head turned when you entered the room. I don’t think there was anyone standing when we left. Those were such good times. And the red dress you wore. Millie, that looked so sexy on you I could have taken you right then,

What happened to us? Your moans, which sounded so sweet in my ears, are missing. That woman, whose body was so soft and warm in my arms, has turned cold. There were two things you can do better than anyone. Now you will only do one of them for me.

Sandra tries, and we are happy with one another, but know that she will never be you. I have explained that to her myself, and she doesn’t care. She has the boy to keep herself busy these days anyway.

I know that our relationship now can only be business, Mistress Millie, but know that in my heart you will always be mine. As I am…

Forever Yours,

Damien

Brandy

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