Identifying Personal Pronouns

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Pronouns are words that are used in place of nouns. The main purpose of pronouns is to avoid repetition, making speech or writing more concise and efficient. Personal pronouns, in particular, are a crucial part of communication and help us refer to ourselves and others without repeating the same noun over and over. Just look: 

  • Without personal pronouns: Ned grabbed Ned’s keys and asked Karen to bring Ned’s wallet and Karen’s purse.
  • With personal pronouns: Ned grabbed his keys and asked Karen to bring his wallet and her purse.

Personal pronouns make the second sentence easier to read, right? These pronouns can be described by their number, gender, or person. Number refers to whether a pronoun is singular or plural (he, they), while gender indicates whether the pronoun is masculine, feminine, or neuter (his, hers, theirs). In English, only the singular pronouns indicate gender. Finally, person refers to whether the pronoun is first-person (referring to the speaker, as in I or me), second-person (referring to the person being spoken to, as in you), or third-person (referring to other people, places, or things, as in he, she, or it). Here’s a breakdown of the most common personal pronouns: 

  • First-person singular: I, me, my, mine
  • First-person plural: we, us, our, ours
  • Second-person singular: you, your, yours
  • Second-person plural: you, your, yours
  • Third-person singular: he, she, him, her, it, his, hers, its
  • Third-person plural: they, them, their, theirs

The form of a pronoun can change depending on how it is used in a sentence. A subject pronoun identifies the person or thing that the sentence or clause is about (I, he, she), while an object pronoun completes the meaning of a verb or preposition (me, him, her). Sometimes a pronoun is used as part of a compound subject or object (Dave and her boat). One way to choose the right pronoun is to remove the other part of the compound and try the sentence with only the pronoun. For example, you can tell that She told Linda and me is correct because She told me sounds right, unlike She told I.  

Possessive pronouns are personal pronouns that show ownership. It's important to note that possessive pronouns do not use apostrophes. Some possessive pronouns have a couple of different forms, one for when they are used with a noun (my) and one for when they are used alone (mine).

Demonstrative pronouns identify particular persons, places, or things. They include this, that, these, and those, and can modify a noun or be used alone.