What Are Pronouns?

This week for Terminology Tuesday I will begin a multipart discussion about pronouns by explaining what pronouns are.

As defined by the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, a pronoun is, “A word used instead of a noun to designate an object which is identifiable from context or usage, or which has already been mentioned or indicated (e.g. we, theirs, this, ourselves, who). (One of the parts of speech.)”

An example of this (adapted from a passage in Susan Thurman’s book):
Without pronouns: Is the situation just Tyler, or is the temperature really hot in here?
With pronouns: Is it just me, or is it really hot in here?
In this example, the nouns are situation, Tyler, and temperature, and the pronouns used to refer to those nouns are it, me, and it, respectively.

Pronouns can be used to refer to any noun, people included. The three main types of pronouns which can refer to people are personal, possessive, and reflexive (the book I’m getting my definitions for these from was written by Thurman).

Personal pronouns refer to people or objects.
Some examples of these are I, me, her, and it.
Personal pronouns in a sentence:waved to her this morning.

Possessive pronouns show ownership.
Some examples of these are his, theirs, and yours.
Possessive pronouns in a sentence: The notebook is yours.

Reflexive pronouns reflect back to someone/something else in the sentence.
Some examples of these are itself, ourselves, and myself.
Reflexive pronouns in a sentence: We removed ourselves from the situation.

If you are still confused about what pronouns are, feel free to leave a comment or contact me.

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