• A pronoun stands in for, or acts as a substitute for a noun or a noun phrase.


    The man walked slowly into town
    He walked slowly into town.

    The wind uprooted the rare blue Californian pine.
    The wind uprooted it.

  • As a consequence of the substitution the meaning of a phrase, clause or sentence containing a pronoun is less specific than one containing a noun. Too great a use of pronouns obscures meaning. For example, the sentence given above, ' The wind uprooted it', could be rewritten 'It uprooted it'.

  • However, pronouns are usually used where the context makes it clear what the pronoun is referring to, and pronouns are an invaluable element in maintaining cohesion in a text.

Types of pronoun:

  • There are, in fact, eight categories of pronoun, but for an initial understanding it is probably easiest to concentrate on four categories:-

    Type of pronoun Examples
    Personal pronouns: you he she it we they me us
    Possessive pronouns: mine yours his hers its ours my your
    Demonstrative pronouns: this/that these/those
    Relative pronouns: who whom whose which what that

  • For more information about types of pronoun, look in the advanced section.

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