Using Pronouns in English: an Overview

Pronouns, an essential part of the English language. They are used in English instead of nouns and help us keep writing our interesting in that they allow us not to use the same word each time they start a sentence. This article is all about using pronouns in English. It will give you a short introduction about when and how to use them.

USING PRONOUNS IN ENGLISH: AN OVERVIEW

Here is a list of the pronouns and possessive adjectives that we will focus on in this article.  For a deeper explanation of pronouns, see the articles Using Pronouns in English: Subject Pronouns and Using Pronouns in English: Object Pronouns.

Subject Pronoun Object Pronoun  

Possessive Pronoun

 

 

Possessive Adjective

 

When to Use It
I me mine my This is used when the speaker is talking about themselves.
you you yours your This is used when talking/writing directly to someone.
he him his his This is used when talking/writing about a male.
she her hers her This is used when talking/writing about a female.
it it This is not used as a possessive pronoun. its This is used when talking/writing about an item or place.
they them theirs their This is used when talking/writing about a group.
we us ours our This is used when talking/writing about a group and the speaker or writer is part of the group too.

SUBJECT PRONOUNS

These pronouns are used when the noun is the focus of the sentence.

Example 1

  • ‘Julie enjoyed the basketball game.’
Using Pronouns in English: an Overview - Simply Better English
Using Pronouns in English: an Overview – Simply Better English

Julie is the focus of the sentence. This means a subject pronoun can then be used instead of Julie’s name.

  • ‘She enjoyed the basketball game.’

Example 2

  • ‘Yesterday, John went to the shops.’

John is a male and he is the focus (also known as the subject) of the sentence. This means we can replace the noun and use a pronoun instead.

  • ‘Yesterday, he went to the shops.’

Example 3

  • ‘On Friday, Zach had a picnic.’

In this sentence, the noun ‘Zach’ can be replaced with a subject pronoun.

  • ‘On Friday, he had a picnic.’

 

Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English

Activity 1

Read each sentence and replace each female and male noun with a subject pronoun.

  • Jenny went to the supermarket.
  • Bobby read a long book.
  • Today, Natalie hiked for three hours.

OBJECT PRONOUNS

These pronouns are used when the noun is the object of the sentence. This means it is the noun that has received an action from the verb.

Example 4

  • ‘Alex gave Mary an apple.’

Mary received an action from Alex and she was given an apple. This means Mary is the object of the sentence. Instead of the noun ‘Mary’ an object pronoun could be used.

  • ‘Alex gave her an apple.’

Example 5

  • ‘On Thursday, the group sang to Michael.’

Michael is the object of the sentence. This is because he received the action from the singing group. This means the ‘him’ pronoun could be used.

  • ‘On Thursday, the group sang to him.’ 

Example 6

  • ‘During the football game, David passed Susie the ball.’

Susie received the ball. This means she is the object of the sentence. This sentence could then be edited and the ‘her’ pronoun could be used.

  • ‘During the football game, David passed her the ball.’
Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English

Activity 2

Read each sentence then fill in the gaps with an object pronoun.

  • The prince gave … a medal. (male)
  • Jodie bought … a new car. (male)
  • At the weekend, Beverly cooked … a meal. (female)

POSSESSIVE PRONOUNS

These pronouns are used to show belonging.

Example 7

  • ‘The cookies belong to Barry.’
Using Pronouns in English: an Overview - Simply Better English
Using Pronouns in English: an Overview – Simply Better English

Instead of the noun ‘Barry’ the speaker or writer could say the item belongs to them in a different way.

  • ‘The cookies are his.’

Example 8

  • ‘The hat belongs to Dorothy.’

Again, this sentence could be written in a different way using a possessive pronoun.

  • ‘The hat is hers.’

Example 9

  • ‘The jacket belongs to Georgie.’

A possessive pronoun could be used for this sentence too.

  • ‘The jacket is hers.’
Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English

Activity 3

Read each sentence. Then rewrite each sentence by using a possessive pronoun.

  • The helicopter belongs to Abigail.
  • The hammer belongs to Aaron.
  • The lunchbox belongs to Alex.

POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVES

These pronouns are used when an item belongs to someone.

Example 10        

  • ‘Does the bag belong to Gareth?’
Using Pronouns in English: an Overview - Simply Better English
Using Pronouns in English: an Overview – Simply Better English

This sentence could be shortened by using a possessive adjective.

  • ‘Is this his bag?’

Example 11

  • ‘That dog belongs to Janet.’

This is a long sentence and in this case, a possessive adjective would more likely be used.

  • ‘That is her dog.’

Example 12

  • ‘That cup of tea belongs to Catherine.’

This sentence could be written using a possessive adjective.

  • ‘That is her cup of tea.’

 

Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English

Activity 4

Read each sentence. Then rewrite each sentence by using a possessive adjective.

  • The apartment belongs to Lola.
  • The birds belong to Penny.
  • The sandwiches belong to Phillip.

This article looked at using pronouns in the English language. It looked at subject pronouns, object pronouns, possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives. Pronouns are used in English instead of nouns. Subject pronouns are used when the noun is the focus of the sentence. Object pronouns are used when the noun has received an action from the subject of the sentence. Possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives are used in a similar way to apostrophes and they show the listener or reader that an item (or sometimes person) belongs to someone.

Here are the answers to the activities looked at in this article. Feel free to leave your answers in the comments section.

Activity 1

  • She went to the supermarket.
  • He read a long book.
  • Today, she hiked for three hours.

Activity 2

  • The prince gave him a medal.
  • Jodie bought him a new car.
  • At the weekend, Beverly cooked her a meal.

Activity 3

  • The helicopter is hers.
  • The hammer is his.
  • The lunchbox is his.

Activity 4

  • This is her apartment.
  • They are her birds.
  • They are his sandwiches.

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