Document Sample
Pronouns Powered By Docstoc
  There are many kinds of pronouns. Early on in our
   discussions, we will concentrate on personal
   pronouns, but we will also cover demonstrative
   pronouns, indefinite pronouns, and, to a lesser extent,
   interrogative and relative pronouns. (Read about
  Pronouns are not nouns, but are words that take the
   place of noun and function in a similar fashion. In
   fact, the “pro” in “pronoun” is Latin for “in place of.”
  The word that a pronoun substitutes for is an
   antecedent. That term is also based on Latin, and is
   roughly translated as the word “that came before.”
     o In almost all cases with personal pronouns, an
       antecedent is required. With some of the other
       kinds of pronouns, you can have sentences
       without obvious antecedents, but whether you an
       antecedent is present or not, a writer must
       always be clear about what noun a pronoun is
       replacing (who “he” is… what “it” refers to… that
       is meant by “this or “those,” et cetera)
 We use pronouns so much so we don’t have to keep
  repeating the antecedent. (In this example, the
  antecedent is highlighted in blue and the pronouns
  are highlighted in yellow.)
    o The boy went inside his house to ask his mother
      if he might ride his bicycle to a nearby park.
    rather than….
    o The boy went inside the boy’s house to ask the
      boy’s mother if the boy might ride the boy’s
      bicycle to a nearby park.
 An antecedent is generally close by the pronoun that
  replaces it—if not in the sentence itself, then perhaps
  in the previous sentence or two. Much of the time
  (>75%), the antecedent is the last used noun.
    o Because she had lost her car keys, my mother
      went tearing through every room in the house
      until she found them.
 When a writer uses “I,” “me, “my,” “mine,” and
  “myself”, he or she is making a reference to self.
  Hence, even if the writer’s name does not appear in a
  passage, we can nevertheless assume that the
  antecedent for these first person personal pronouns is
  the writer him- or herself.
    o I wish my garden were more colorful and vibrant.
      (The antecedent of these pronouns is understood
      to be the writer/speaker of the sentence.)

 Pronoun reference error: when antecedent is unclear
    o John and his friend went shopping at the mall,
      and he bought a suit. (Who bought the suit?)
         Many readers will glance at this sentence
          and answer that John bought the suit, but
          that’s just a supposition, or guess. In the
          sentence, as written, it is simply unclear
          whether the antecedent for he is “John” or
          “his friend.” In this respect, the writer had
          given the issue up for interpretation. And
          that’s never good, for while most readers will
          assume that John bought the suit, others
          may have understood it to be the friend who
          purchased the garment. And in the end, we
          don’t really know which readers are right,
          and with such a vague and ambiguous
          sentence, we can’t be certain what the writer
         A clearer sentence would be: “John went
          shopping at the mall along with his friend
          and bought a suit.” Or “John and his friend
       went shopping at the mall, and the friend
       bought a suit.” Or “John went shopping at
       the mall along with his friend, who bought a
     Notice that clarification of pronoun reference
      can involve rephrasing or repositioning
      certain words in a sentence, or it may involve
      eliminating the use of a pronoun, especially if
      a discussion involves numerous people of
      the same gender.
o John said that his dad said that he was going
  fishing. (unclear)(Is John going fishing, or is it the
  dad who is going?)
o John’s father said he was going fishing.
  (unclear)(Readers still cannot say for certain who
  is going fishing.)
     John’s father said, “I am going fishing.”
      (clearer)(Here, it is clear: the dad is going
     John said that his father was going fishing.
      (clear)(We know from this sentence that it is
      John’s father who is going fishing.)
     John’s father commented that John was
      going fishing. (clearer) (Readers will
      understand from this sentence that John is
      going fishing, as opposed to his father’s
      going fishing.)
o Pronoun agreement error: when pronouns are
  fundamentally different than the antecedent,
  especially in terms of number and gender.
     Each student was asked to bring their
      completed medical form for the school trip.
     The problem is a mismatch: Each student
      singular subject was asked singular verb to
      bring their plural pronoun completed medical
      form singular noun for the school trip.
     A corrected version of the sentence: “Each
      student was asked to bring his or her
      completed medical form for the school trip.”
      Or “Each student was asked to bring her
      completed medical form for the school trip.”
      Or “Each student was asked to bring his
      completed medical form for the school trip.”
      Or “Students were asked to bring their
      completed medical forms for the school trip.”
 Pronoun case error: when an incorrect version of a
  pronoun is used or is asked to function in a way it’s
  not designed to function.
    o Example: My mother and me traveled across
      country to see my grandfather before he died.
      (This sentence should use “my mother and I,” not
      “my mother and me.”)
          In this sentence the word “me” is appearing
           in front of “traveled,” a verb. That verb calls
           for a subject, but “me” is not capable of
           serving as a subject. “I,” on the other hand,
           is a subject case pronoun.
    o Another example: If you have any questions or
      customer complaints, direct them to either myself
      or one of the other shift managers. (This
      sentence should say, “either me or one of the
      other shift managers.”)
          In this sentence the word “myself” is part of a
           prepositional phrase and is purporting to
           function like the object of the preposition.
           However, as a reflexive case pronoun, it
           cannot function that way. “Me,” an object
           case pronoun, is what the sentence calls for.
 Case is the concept of fashioning pronouns to serve
  various specific functions within sentences. Hence,
  the personal pronouns (and some other pronouns)
  have different versions of themselves. Depending on
  how a writer phrases his or her sentence, a reference
  to self might require be accomplished by any of the
  following words: “I,” “me,” “my,” “mine,” or “myself.”
 There are four basic “cases” upon which we will
  concentrate: subjective, objective, possessive, and
  reflexive. For each of the seven personal pronouns,
  I’ve provided a list of the various cases.
    o Subject case: I, we, they, he, she, it, you
         These words are used when you want a
          pronoun to function as the subject of the
         Some books/teachers refer to them as
          nominative case pronouns.
    o Object case: me, us, them, him, her, it, you
         These words are used when a pronoun is
          functioning as a direct object, an indirect
          object, an object of the preposition, the
          object of an infinitive phrases, and the like.
    o Possessive case (which function as adjectives):
      my/mine, our/ours, their/theirs, his, her/hers, its,
 Possessive pronouns function as adjectives
  which are used to “show ownership” (as
  many grammar books say) or to describe an
  association between the antecedent and a
  person or object.
 As with many adjectives, possessive
  pronouns often appear directly in front of a
  noun: my car, his sister, your exam.
 Other times, we phrase things differently and
  must use different versions of the words:
     That dog is mine.
     It’s hers.
     Which house belongs to them? That
      one on the corner is theirs.
     His is the first bedroom on the right.
      (Here, coincidentally, a possessive
      pronoun serves as the subject of the
      sentence. This is possible because, in
      the intricate world of grammar, the
      antecedent for “his” is a bedroom
      presumed to be owned by a man or
 Some students get confused and think
  possessive pronouns are different from
possessive adjectives. But possessive
pronouns are possessive adjectives!!! They
are just a particular kind of possessive
adjective. I think the confusion stems from
the fact that the vast majority of possessive
adjectives are created from nouns and
require apostrophes in their spelling. There
are considerably fewer possessive
pronouns, and thanks to the concept of case,
are sort of preformed words that don’t
require apostrophes.
   John’s car is red. (possessive adjective
    created from the proper noun John)
   His car is red. (possessive pronoun
    whose antecedent refers to the male
    owner of the car.)
   I asked John’s girlfriend if she would
    give me his phone number since I had
    accidentally deleted his from my cell
    phone. She didn’t actually have it in her
    phone, either, but she borrowed her
    best friend’s phone and looked it up for
    me. (In these sentences, I highlighted
    all the possessive adjectives. The pink
    represents possessive adjectives
            created by nouns. The green
            represents possessive pronouns.
            Despite being outnumbered by noun-
            based possessive adjectives, it is typical
            to use more possessive pronouns in
            sentences than other possessive
o Reflexive: myself, ourselves, themselves,
  himself, herself, itself, yourself/yourselves
     Some grammar sources try to distinguish
      reflexive pronouns from intensive pronouns
      despite the fact that they are represented by
      the very same words. Intensive pronouns
      emphasize another used pronoun or nouns
      whereas a reflexive pronoun renames a
      noun, most often the subject. The difference
      is reflected in these examples:

        They complained about her dishonesty, but
        they themselves lied. (“Themselves” is said
        to intensify “they.”)
        He hurt himself when he tripped on the
        sidewalk. (“Himself” renames “he,” and
        would therefore be considered a reflexive
       For our purposes, these distinctions are
        pretty subtle, so we will not attempt to
        differentiate reflexive pronouns and intensive

 Sentences with pronouns, their cases identified:
          I (subjective) travel a lot.
          He (subjective) dances very well.
          He (subjective) gave the trophy to me
           (objective/object of the preposition) when I
           (subjective) won the tournament.
          He (subjective) gave me (objective/indirect
           object) the trophy when I (subjective) won
           the tournament.
          She (subjective) asked me (objective/indirect
           object) a question.
          I (subjective) answered her (objective/direct
          Joan asked her (possessive) brother to fix
           her (possessive) car and park it
           (objective/direct object) in her (possessive)
           neighbor’s driveway.
          “Momma, I (subjective) did it (objective)
           myself (reflexive)!”
          Melissa and he (subjective) ate their
           (possessive) supper, paid the bill, left the
  restaurant, and went on their (possessive)
 He (subjective) asked me (objective/indirect
  object) to keep Joan’s secret between us
  (objective) / him (objective) and me
 He (subjective) slept through his
  (possessive/adjective) algebra class and
  didn’t take any notes.
 When they (subjective) went to the lake, the
  boat wouldn’t start because it (subjective)
  didn’t have any gas.
 My (possessive/adjective) friend hurt himself
  (reflexive) by running and tripping on the
 I (subjective) love my kids even though they
  make me mad at times.
 My friend hit himself on the shoulder when
  the barbell he was holding slipped from his
 My mother went to the grocery store to buy
  the ingredients for her special cake, but it
  didn’t have any in stock.
 My mother went to the grocery store to buy
  the ingredients for her special cake, but they
  weren’t available.
 Whenever my dog sees itself in a mirror, it
  barks like crazy.
 Whenever my dog sees herself in a mirror,
  she barks like crazy.
 My friend is planning a going-away party for
  Lisa, Melissa, and me.
 Some people learn from their mistakes, and
  some individuals just repeat them.
 My professor, Laura Foster-Eason, is going
  to the Texas Rangers’ game; she is going by
  herself. Hopefully, her team will win, and
  she will be very pleased.
 Laura hopes her favorite baseball team will
  win, and she will probably have to cross her
  fingers and pray.
 My favorite team, the Texas Rangers, won
  the AL championship; it doesn’t have to win
 I personally like the Rangers but don’t watch
  the team as much as I did in my youth.
     The Texas Rangers play a game tonight; my
      family and friends of ours are going to watch
      the team play.
o Seeming Exceptions (But not really):
     First exception: sentences that make
         These exceptions involve “understood”
          or “implied” elements of sentences,
          especially predicates. What this
          statement means is that we write the
          sentence considering words that don’t
          actually appear on the page.
     Comparisons use the subject case:
         He is taller than I.
             o What’s implied? He is taller than I
               (am tall).
             o Hence, even though “am tall”
               doesn’t appear in the sentence, we
               structure the sentence as though it
               were there.
             o Writing He is taller than me isn’t
               grammatical because “me” is the
               wrong case to fit the grammatical
        structure of the implied predicate:
        He is taller than me (is tall).
 Other examples:
    o Nobody sings as well as she
           --or—
           Nobody sings as well as she
    o He runs faster than I (run).
    o Nobody is as good as she (is good).
    o My friend is smarter than I (am
    o She is smarter than I.
    o He is more sensitive than I.
    o Nabeel is more sensitive than
    o He is more sensitive than she is.
    o I am more sensitive than __they___
      (are sensitive).
         o He is way more awesome than I
           (am awesome).
         o He is more intelligent than
           they/others (are intelligent).
     Errors with sentences that make
      comparisons are quite common,
      especially in our conversations, and
      sentences like, I wish I were more like
      her make ready sense to people.
     Most of the time, such errors go
      unnoticed or are not remarked upon, so
      it is easy to develop a tolerance for
      hearing them. In other words, they don’t
      “sound wrong” to many people. Worse
      yet, correct versions of the sentences
      may actually feel uncomfortable to some
      speakers. This is why it is problematic
      to rely only on the instinct of how
      something sounds to determine whether
      it’s proper English or not.
 Sometimes, it depends on meaning whether
  you use subject or object case in a sentence
  in which a writer makes a comparison of two
  other individuals rather than between him- or
  herself and another.
 You trust Mr. Aton more than me.
    o This would mean that the writer
      thinks that the person to whom he
      is speaking trusts Mr. Aton more
      than that person trusts the writer.
    o You trust Mr. Aton more than (you
      trust) me.
 You trust Mr. Aton more than I.
    o This would mean that the writer
      thinks that the person to whom he
      is speaking trusts Mr. Aton more
      than the writer trusts Mr. Aton.
    o You trust Mr. Aton more than I (trust
 Probably, it is better all the way around
  to write out the implied elements than
  risk being unclear, so…
      You trust Mr. Aton more than you
      trust me.
    o You trust Mr. Aton more than I trust
 I have more fear of him than you.
  (Here, the meaning is unclear.)

    o Clearer: I have more fear of him
      than you do. (Meaning is clear: the
      writer compares how much fear of
      “him” she or she has compared to
      how much fear “you”--whoever you
      is--has of “him.)
    o Clearer: I have more fear of him
      than I have of you. (Meaning is
      clear: The writer’s fear of “him” or
      less than the writer’s fear of “you.”)
 I believe her more than him. (Here, the
  meaning is unclear.)
    o Clearer: I believe her more than I
      believe him. (Meaning is clear)
    o Clearer: I believe her more than he
      believes her. (Meaning is clear).
 Exception #2: Answering the phone and
  other subject complements:
     This is she.
     This is he.
     This is I.
     In these sentences, “she,” “he,” and “I”
      are all predicate pronouns that go with
      the linking verbs. Predicate pronouns
      that accompany linking verbs are often
      called subject complements, which is a
      good name for them because they use
      subject case pronouns.
     All of these versions of the sentences
      are improper:
         o This is her.
         o This is him.
         o This is me. –or-- It’s me.
         o In these sentences, the problem is
           that the pronouns appear in
           objective case. These may be
           further examples that may convince
               you of the need to re-train your
               instincts because, to a lot of people,
               these sentences sound “okay.”

o Demonstrative pronouns: this, that, these, those
     Demonstrative pronouns serve as adjectives.
     This sweater, those doughnuts, that man,
      these days
     This will be on the exam. (wrong)
     This information will be on the exam.
     That’s a good idea, Jim! (weak)
     That idea is a good one, Jim! (better)
     This material will be on the exam. (correct)
     This formula will be on the exam. (correct)
     (You) Go get me that can of Coca-Cola.
     (You) Go find me these candy bars.
     These people are driving me crazy.
     Those cans of juice contain ample vitamins.
     Those girls make me sick.
 Who is taking you to the dance?

 With whom are you going to the dance?

 Who are you going to the dance with?

 Who are you?

 You are who?

 Those girls make me sick with all the silly
  tricks they play on my brother and me, and I
  just wish they would be more like our male
  cousins, who are always fun.
 Anna asked me if I wanted to go hiking with
  her since it seems that the summer’s hot
  days have gone.
 We had very nice weather today, but this
  morning was so chilly that my son asked me
  for a light jacket.
 This morning was cooler than yesterday, and
  the crisp air felt great to me.
 It was a nice day for those people who hated
  the hot summer days.
 I am glad that this summer is over; I can’t
  wait for the snow days to come.
 I love days like these, where the weather is
  temperate, and there is no need for jackets.
 These girls were picking on my little brother
  at the park, so I asked the girls to leave him
 These two days of cool weather felt really
  refreshing to me after this long, hot summer.
 Those Texas Rangers did very well; my
  professor and I are very pleased with the
         The Texas Rangers are planning to go
          through hard games just like that last one,
          where the team lost against Seattle.
         Last week was a good time for the Greenhill
          team to win the game. My daughter and I
          kept on clapping the whole time while those
          good players who won the game were
          playing hard.
 Personal pronouns: various forms (cases) of I, he,
  she, they, we you, and it
 Indefinite pronoun: several, couple, few, one, two,
  any, some, one, everyone, everybody, anybody,
  someone, somebody else, anyone else, others, who,
  and so forth
    o Indefinite pronouns frequently function as
      subjects and also in other noun-like ways (such
      as direct objects or objects of the preposition),
      but the same words often function as adjectives.
      When they function as nouns, they often work in
      conjunction with a prepositional phrase; when
      they function as adjectives, they are usually
      directly in front of the noun they modify. To
      illustrate these tendencies, I’ve highlighted
      prepositional phrases in aqua and the modified
      nouns in red.
     Some (indefinite pronoun as subject) of the
      children were playing in the sandbox.
     Some (indefinite pronoun as adjective)
      children are playing in the sandbox.
     One (indefinite pronoun as subject) of the
      children was playing in the sandbox.
     One (indefinite pronoun as adjective) child is
      playing in the sandbox.
     I gave a piece of candy to each (indefinite
      pronoun as an object of the preposition) of
      the trick-or-treaters.
     I gave each trick-or-treater a piece of candy.
     Each of the students should turn in his or her
      vaccination record to the school nurse.
     Each student should turn in his or her
      vaccination record to the school nurse.
     A few shoes were missing from my closet.
     A few of my shoes were missing from my
 A few (indefinite pronoun as an adjective)
  pairs of my shoes were missing from my
 A few of the pairs of my shoes from my
  closet were missing.
 I found a few (indefinite pronoun functioning
  as a direct object) of the pairs of my missing

 One of the students is being recognized.
 One is being recognized at a school
  assembly today for good citizenship.
 The top of the shelves is dusty.
 Neither of my parents wants me to go
  camping this weekend.
 Hopefully, none of you makes this
  mistake in the future.
 Some of the children are wearing jackets.
  One of the children is wearing a tank top.
 Everybody in the class, especially the
  teachers, is ready to go to the museum for
  the school trip.
 In the beginning of the semester, many of students
  were asked to call out their names and say
  something about themselves.
 Some (indefinite pronoun as adjective)
  children (noun as subject) were playing in
  the sandbox.
 Some (functioning as an adjective) students
  are taking notes.
 Some (subject of the sentence) of the
  students are taking notes.
 The teacher gave a treat to each (indefinite
  pronoun as object of the preposition) of the
  children at recess.
 The teacher gave a treat to each (indefinite
  pronoun as adjective) child at recess.
 Anybody (indefinite pronoun as subject) can
  come to the party who wants to.
 One (indefinite pronoun as subject) of the
  students received an award.
 One (indefinite pronoun as subject) received
  an award.
 Several (indefinite pronoun as an adjective)
  people like to go to the park to exercise.
 Some (indefinite pronoun as subject) of the
  children on my street were playing soccer.
 Everyone (indefinite pronoun as a subject)
  that played football enjoyed themselves
  (reflexive), but several (indefinite pronoun as
  an adjective) people got hurt.

          Always singular: another, anybody, anyone,
           anything, each, either, everybody,
           everyone, everything, little, much, neither,
           nobody, no one, nothing, one, other,
           somebody, someone, something
           Always plural: both, few, many, others,
           Either singular or plural: all, any, more,
            most, none, some
 Voice is a concept in our language that identifies
  whether the speaker/writer is talking about himself,
  whether he is talking about others, or whether he is
  talking to the listener/reader.
     o Sometimes, “voice” is discussed as “point of
       view.” And point of view is usually
       categorized in three ways, all of which use the
       terminology of “person.”
     o First person
           Someone is discussing him- or herself and
            makes references to self with the
            following words: “I,” “me,” “my,”
            “mine,” and “myself.” If the
            speaker/writer includes others along with
            himself, he would change these references
      to “we,” “us,” “our,” “ours,” and
      “ourselves.” In this sense, first person
      pronouns are said to be either singular or
o Second person
     Second person involves a person talking
      directly to another person or to a group of
      people. The second person pronouns
      include “you,” “your,” “yours,” “yourself,
      and “yourselves.” Like with first person
      pronouns, second person pronouns are
      either singular or plural, depending on the
      number of people being addressed.
o Third person
     Third person allows individuals to write
      about things and people with whom or
      with which the speaker/writer may not
      have direct involvement. With third
      person, the writer is not mentioning
      himself, and he is not talking to or making
      comments about the reader(s). Instead, he
      is “reporting” on things and/or other
      people who are sometimes referred to as
      “third parties.” Third person relies
      heavily on the use of nouns, both common
      and proper, and these third-person
      personal pronouns: “he,” “she,” “they,”
       “it,” and all the various “case” versions of
       those words.
o People speak and write using all three
  viewpoints and often combine them numerous
  times, even in the same conversation or some
  passage they might write. However, certain
  points of view tend to dominate certain styles
  of writing and are more comfortably used with
  some writing topics.
     For example, somebody relating a
       narrative, or telling a story about himself
       would probably use first person.
     Someone giving another person
       instructions tends to use second person.
     Third person is often used to present
       information, provide examples, and make
       descriptions of historical events.
o Third person is the most widely used (and
  commonly accepted) point of view in formal
  writing and is what is expected scientific
  writing, legal writing, academic style prose,
  and even most business communication. Now,
  there are some exceptions in each of these
  realms, and you should not imagine that there
  are super strict rules that have no wiggle room,
  but the overuse and inappropriate use of “I”
  and “you” can weaken writing and lead to
  criticisms of your style.
o Please note: like so many concepts, we
  discuss, people rarely comment upon—or
  scarcely notice--which “person” a person is
  using when he or she talks, but when our
  thoughts are recorded in writing, the choices
  we make about “person” are often more
  noticeable and subject to a lot more scrutiny
  than you might imagine.
     In school, your essay grade might be
     At work, your proposal might have to be
     A research journal might not publish your
       findings if you do not put them down
       using accepted standards for writing.
o The theory behind why first person is not so
  appropriate for academic style writing is that
  your ideas are not exclusive to you (they have
  a broader application) and it is unnecessary for
  you to use first person to express an opinion
  any way. Actually, it’s kind of wordy.
o The theory behind why second person is so
  awkward in prose is that the approach seems to
  presume things about the reader/listener that
  simply may not be true.
     When you end your relationship, you are
       likely to be sad for weeks.
     What is the reader doesn’t have a
       relationship, has a strong one, or is glad to
       be rid of a partner and has no sadness?
o Often, inexperienced writers inappropriately
  use second person because they are trying to
  avoid using first person. Perhaps, for example,
  they want to give an example based on what
  has happened to them. However, they think
  they should generalize and include other
  people in their examples because they realize
  that their experience is probably not unique.
  And they frequently imagine that their
  reader(s) have had similar experiences. But
  the problems aren’t solved by this strategy and
  can even be exacerbated by it.
     When you end your relationship with your
       boyfriend, you are likely to be sad for
     But what if the reader is…..
     It is better to use first person giving an
       example you acknowledge as unique to
       you (When I ended my relationship, I was
      sad for weeks) or to re-write it in third
o Transforming second-person prose isn’t hard. It
  usually involves switching from second-person
  pronouns to third-person ones, eliminating
  pronouns altogether, substituting nouns for
  pronouns, or engaging in some re-phrasing.
     (weak) When you end your relationship,
      you are likely to be sad for weeks.
     (better) When a person ends a relationship,
      he or she is likely to be sad for weeks.
     (better) Ending relationships can leave
      individuals sad for weeks.

Shared By: