Personal Pronouns and Case in the English Language

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    Sep 25, 2012
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Pronouns Types and Basic Interpretation

Many language experts define a pronoun as “a word that is used in place of a noun

or a phrase that contains a noun.” (Steel, 2000: 524). A lot of grammarians agree that “most, if not all, languages have expressions of this type.” (Burning, 2007:1).  Grammarians classify pronouns into several types, including the personal pronoun, the possessive pronoun, the demonstrative pronoun, the interrogative pronoun, the indefinite pronoun, the relative pronoun, the reflexive pronoun, the reciprocal pronoun and the intensive pronoun. A personal pronoun refers to a specific person or thing and changes its form to indicate person, number, gender and case.  A possessive pronoun indicates that the pronoun is acting as a marker of possession and defines who owns a particular object or person.   

A demonstrative pronoun points to and identifies a noun or a pronoun. The demonstrative pronouns are: this, that, these and those. An interrogative pronoun is used to ask questions. The interrogative pronouns are: who, whom, which, what and the compounds formed with the suffix “ever” (whoever, whichever and whatever). An indefinite pronoun is a pronoun referring to an identifiable but not specified person or thing.  An indefinite pronoun conveys the idea of all, any, none or some.

The most common indefinite pronouns are: all, another, any, anybody, anyone, anything, each, everybody, everyone, everything, nobody, none and one. We use a relative pronoun to link one phrase or clause to another phrase or clause. The relative pronouns are: who, whom, that and which. The compounds whoever, whomever and whichever are also relative pronouns. You can use reflexive pronouns to refer back to the subject of the clause or sentence. The reflexive pronouns are: myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves and themselves. Reciprocal pronouns always refer to more than one person. They are: each other and one another.

Some authors point out that “reciprocal pronouns and plural reflexive pronouns have different meanings.” ( Fuchs, Bonner, 2007: 259).  An intensive pronoun is a pronoun used to emphasis its antecedent. Intensive pronouns are identical in form to reflexive pronouns. Nouns are not normally put after pronouns except in special combinations such as: you pupils and he-cat.  



  1. Alexander, Louis. (2006). Longman English Grammar. New York: Longman Publishing.
  2. Burning, Daniel. (2007). Pronouns, Types and Basic Interpretation. Los Angeles: Linguistic Department UCLA.
  3. Fuchs and Bonner. (2007). Grammar Express. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.
  4. Steel, Miranda. (2004). Oxford Wordpower Dictionary. Oxford: University Press.

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