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Video Script

Hello. My name is John Erskin. Thanks for joining me for another grammar tutorial. In today’s video I am going to talk about English pronouns. This is a very large topic, so this video is going to be rather long. However, by the time you are finished watching this video, you will have all the information you need to correctly use the various pronouns in the English language.

The pronouns I will be covering in today’s video are,

These are big words and I understand if you feel a bit overwhelmed by them, but don’t worry. By the end of this video you will understand each of these types of pronouns and how to properly use them.

Before I get started, let me remind you that if you have questions, leave them in the comments section below. I promise, I will answer all of your questions.

Now, if you’re ready, let’s get started.

Let’s start by reviewing what a pronoun is. A pronoun is a word that may replace and substitute for a noun or noun phrase. The noun being replaced is known as the pronoun’s antecedent. Pronouns can do everything that nouns can do. A pronoun can be a subject, direct object, indirect object, and the object of a preposition in a sentence.

Without pronouns, we’d have to keep repeating nouns, and that would make our speech and writing repetitive and awkward. Let’s look at this example.

Larry and Mary are in math class together. Larry likes studying with Mary because Mary is funny and cute. Mary is also a good friend and helps Larry when Larry doesn’t understand the material.

The sentences are very repetitive, and a bit awkward, because I have used the people’s names each time I referred to them. How can we improve these sentences? We can improve them by using the pronouns he, she, him, and her.

Larry and Mary are in math class together. He likes studying with her because she is funny and cute. She is also a good friend and helps him when he doesn’t understand the material.

That sounds much better, doesn’t it? Anytime you want to talk about a person, animal, place or thing, you can use pronouns to make your speech or writing flow better.

Pronouns are easy to work with but there are a few important rules you need to remember.

Subject pronouns may be used to begin sentences. For example: He ran very fast.

Subject pronouns may be used to rename the subject. For example: It was she who decided we should go to the zoo.

Indefinite pronouns don’t have antecedents. They are capable of standing on their own. For example: No one likes taking tests.

Object pronouns can be used as direct objects, indirect objects, and objects of prepositions. These include: you, me, him, her, us, them, and it. For example: Mr. Evens talked to her about the assignment.

Possessive pronouns show ownership, but they do not need apostrophes. For example: The cat played with its toy. Not The cat played with it’s toy.


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Now that you know what pronouns are, let’s talk about the types of pronouns in the English language. The first type of pronoun we will look at is personal pronouns.

Personal pronouns may take on the following forms.

Personal pronouns provide us with the following information:

The pronouns I, he, she, it, you, we and they are all subject pronouns. This means they are used in the subject position in a sentence.

The pronouns me, you, him, her, it, us, and them are all object pronouns. Object pronouns, as the name implies, are used in the object position in a sentence. Object pronouns can be used as a direct, an indirect object of a verb, or as the object of a preposition. Object pronouns are affected by the action of the subject of the sentence.

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between subject and object pronouns. So, it can be helpful to remember that a subject is what a sentence is about, while an object is affected by the action of the subject. A subject pronoun usually comes before the verb, while an object pronoun usually comes after the verb.

Here are a few examples to illustrate what I mean.

Here is a table of both subject and object pronouns. As you can see some subject pronouns are identical to certain object pronouns.

Subject PronounObject Pronoun
it it
you you
what what
I me
he him
she her
we us
who whom
they them

Now let’s move on to indefinite pronouns.

Indefinite pronouns are pronouns that refer to one or more unspecified objects, beings, or places. They are called “indefinite” simply because they do not indicate the exact object, person, animal or place to which they refer.

Many people teach that all indefinite pronouns are singular and therefore require singular verbs, but this is not correct.

There are in fact three groups of indefinite pronouns: singular, plural, and those that can be either singular or plural depending on the antecedent.

The indefinite pronouns that are plural are several, both, few and many.

The singular indefinite pronouns are any, anybody, anyone, each, either, neither, nothing, nobody, no one, someone, some, something, every, everyone, everything, all, each, and enough.

Those that can be either singular or plural include none, all, some, and any.

So how do these pronouns work? Let’s start with this example. We have two men. They both work at the same company.

Jim works at XYZ company. (singular verb)

Robert works at XYZ company. (singular verb)

Jim and Robert work for XYZ company. (plural verb)

Both work for XYZ company. (plural verb)

Why? Because the original sentence has two subjects (Jim and Robert) the pronoun both is replacing two subjects and requires a plural verb.

We can replace both with several, few and many. If you place the noun people between the pronoun and the verb you will see that the only correct verb is a plural verb.

Both people work for XYZ company.

Several people work for XYZ company.

Many people work for XYZ company.

Few people work for XYZ company.

Now let’s look at some Indefinite pronouns that can be either singular, or plural depending on the sentence. Let’s look at this example.

The sugar is on the floor.

Sugar is a non-count noun and requires a singular verb. If we add the pronoun some to the sentence we get,

Some sugar is on the floor. Which also requires a singular verb. Now let’s use coins instead of sugar.

The coins are on the floor. Now we have a plural subject with a plural verb. If we add some to the sentence we get

Some coins are on the floor.

Where are the coins? Some are on the floor.

Where is the sugar? Some is on the floor.

So, the rule here is that you use the verb that you would use with the pronoun’s antecedent. If the original noun takes a plural verb, the indefinite pronoun also takes a plural verb. For more information about using indirect pronouns, check out An Introduction to English Grammar 3rd edition by Sidney Greenbaum and Gerald Nelson page 129.

So the next time someone tells you that all indefinite pronouns are singular and require a singular verb, remember this lesson.


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Now here’s a list of indefinite pronouns
anybody, anyone, anything, each, each one, either, neither, everybody, everyone, everything, nobody, no one, nothing, somebody, someone, something, both, many, few, all, most, none, some

Let’s now turn our attention to Demonstrative Pronouns. What is a demonstrative pronoun? A demonstrative pronoun is a pronoun that is used to point to something specific within a sentence. These pronouns can indicate items in space or time, and they can be either singular or plural.

When used to represent a thing or things, demonstrative pronouns can be either near or far in distance or time:

Because there are only a few demonstrative pronouns in the English language, there are just three simple rules for using them correctly. Remember them and you will have no difficulty using these surprisingly interesting parts of speech.

Rule number 1

Demonstrative pronouns always identify nouns, whether those nouns are named specifically or not. For example: “I can’t believe this.” We have no idea what “this” is, but it’s definitely something that I cannot believe. It exists, even though we don’t know what it is.

Rule number 2

Demonstrative pronouns are usually used to describe animals, places, or things; however, they can be used to describe people when the person is identified in the sentence.

For example in the sentence: That sounds like Mary.

That identifies Mary.

Rule number 3

Demonstrative pronouns can be used in place of a noun, so long as the noun being replaced can be understood from the pronoun’s context. Although this concept might seem a bit confusing at first, the following examples of demonstrative pronouns will add clarity.

This was my mother’s ring.

That looks like the car I used to drive.

These are nice shoes, but they look uncomfortable.

Those look riper than the apples on my tree.

These are correct answers.

Demonstrative Pronouns List
this, that, these, those

Now let’s move on to possessive pronouns.

Possessive pronouns are used to show possession. They may also be used as substitutes for noun phrases, and they are typically found at the end of a sentence or clause.

The one rule you need to remember about Possessive pronouns is that they do not contain apostrophes.

Examples of Possessive Pronouns

The following sets of sentences illustrate how possessive pronouns provide clarity. Possessive pronoun examples are italicized.

  1. This is my cat, not your cat. (Sounds repetitive)
    This cat is mine, not yours.
  2. I didn’t have my book so Jenny loaned me her book. (Sounds repetitive)
    I didn’t have my book, so Jenny loaned me hers.
  3. Your car is a lot faster than my car. (Sounds repetitive)
    Your car is a lot faster than mine.

Possessive pronouns are often used in sentences that also contain either subject or object pronouns. The following pronouns are frequently used in the same sentences as possessive pronouns.

Here are a few example sentences that possessive pronouns along other pronouns.

Here’s a list of possessive pronouns accompanied by a list of corresponding subject pronouns.
Subject PronounObject Pronoun
it its
I my, mine
you your
she her, hers
he his
we our, ours
they their, theirs
you
(plural)
yours

Now it’s time to talk about relative pronouns

What is a relative pronoun? A relative pronoun is used to refer to people, places, things, animals, or ideas. Relative pronouns can be used to join two sentences.

There are only a few relative pronouns in the English language. The most common are which, that, whose, whoever, whomever, who, and whom.

Relative pronouns typically introduce extra information in a sentence.

For example: The book, when it was finally returned, was torn and stained.

When it was finally returned is extra information and is therefore set off using commas.

When relative pronouns introduce restrictive relative clauses, no comma is used to separate the restrictive clause from the main clause.

For example: The cyclist who won the race trained hard.

In American English, the relative pronouns whom and whomever are rarely used in every day conversations; however, it is best to use them when writing to ensure that your work is grammatically correct.

Who and whoever are used as a subject .

Whom and whomever are used as an object.

Here’s a list of relative pronouns

who, whom, that, which, whoever, whomever, whichever

That brings us to interrogative Pronouns

What Is an Interrogative Pronoun? Interrogative pronouns are used when asking questions. There are just five interrogative pronouns. Each one is used to ask a very specific question or indirect question.

The five interrogative pronouns are what, which, who, whom, and whose.

What is used to ask questions about people or objects. Examples:

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Which is also used to ask questions about people or objects. Examples:

Who is used to ask questions about people. Examples:

Whom is an interrogative pronoun that is rarely seen these days. It is also used to ask questions about people. Examples:

Whose is used to ask questions about people or objects, and is always related to possession. Examples:

In some cases, interrogative pronouns take on the suffix –ever. A few can also take on the old-fashioned suffix –soever, which is rarely seen in writing these days. For example:

Interrogative pronouns are very easy to remember and use. Memorize them to make things even simpler.

What and which are both used to ask questions about people, places and objects, so how do you know which one to use?

It is really very easy. What is used when there are unlimited options.

For example, it’s your birthday and someone asks you, What do you want for your birthday?

There are many options for you to choose from. In fact, the options are unlimited. But you narrow your options to a shirt.

So you answer, I want a new shirt.

So you go shopping for a new shirt. You find a few shirts in various colors. Now the question is

Which color shirt do you want?

So use what when the options are unlimited or unrestricted. Use which for limited options.

That brings us to reciprocal pronouns. Reciprocal pronouns are used to indicate that two or more people are carrying out or have carried out an action of some type at the same time.

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There are only two reciprocal pronouns, Each other and One another

Reciprocal pronouns are easy to use. There is really no hard rule about which one to use so they are generally interchangeable. For example:

The next type of pronouns we’ll discuss are reflexive Pronouns

What Is a Reflexive Pronoun? In English grammar, a reflexive pronoun indicates that the person who is doing the action of the verb is also the recipient of that action. While this might seem strange at first, try thinking of a mirror. Who do you see when you look into a mirror? You see yourself. You are doing the action of seeing. And what you see is you. Let’s look at a few examples of reflexive pronouns. This should help you understand. In fact, you will probably notice that you yourself use reflexive pronouns frequently when speaking or writing.

  1. I was in a hurry, so I washed the car myself.
  2. You’re going to have to drive yourself to school today.
  3. He wanted to impress her, so he baked a cake himself.
  4. Jennifer does chores herself because she doesn’t trust others to do them right.
  5. That car is in a class all by itself.
  6. We don’t have to go out; we can fix dinner ourselves.
  7. You are too young to go out by yourselves.
  8. The actors saved the local theatre money by making costumes themselves.

Here is a list of the Reflexive Pronouns.
myself, yourself, herself, himself,
itself, yourselves, ourselves, themselves

We have now come to the last topic today: Intensive Pronouns

What are Intensive Pronouns? Intensive pronouns are almost identical to reflexive pronouns. It is defined as a pronoun that ends in self or selves and places emphasis on its antecedent by referring back to another noun or pronoun used earlier in the sentence. For this reason, intensive pronouns are sometimes called emphatic pronouns.

You can test a word to see whether it’s an intensive pronoun by removing it from the sentence and checking to see if the sentence has the same impact.

It is relatively easy to tell the difference between a reflexive pronoun and an intensive pronoun. Intensive pronouns aren’t essential to a sentence’s basic meaning but reflexive pronouns are essential. In addition, reflexive pronouns are always objects that refer to a sentence’s subject. The following example shows a reflexive pronoun in action:

Jim made himself coffee.

In this sentence himself is a reflexive pronoun that refers back to Jim. Without the reflexive pronoun himself, it would be impossible for us to know for whom Jim made coffee. Did he make coffee for himself or someone else?

In the next example, himself is used as an intensive pronoun. The reader would be able to understand the sentence’s complete meaning without this pronoun, but it serves to add emphasis: Jim made coffee for the king himself.

Here, himself refers to the king rather than to Jim. The reader is meant to be impressed that Jim made coffee for the king.

The following list contains the most commonly used examples of intensive pronouns.

Intensive pronouns might not be necessary, but they serve the important function of making your sentences more interesting as well as more meaningful, particularly in formal situations. Use them sparingly to ensure that the emphasis they provide isn’t lost.

Well…This has been a rather long video hasn’t it? Let’s review some of the key points.

A pronoun is a word that may be substituted for a noun or noun phrase. The noun being replaced is known as the pronoun’s antecedent.

Personal pronouns function as both subject and object pronouns.

Indefinite pronouns are pronouns that refer to one or more unspecified objects, beings, or places. They are called “indefinite” simply because they do not indicate the exact object, person, animal or place to which they refer.

There are three types of indefinite pronouns. Some are always singular, some are always plural and a few can be either singular or plural.

When used to represent a thing or things, demonstrative pronouns can be either near or far in distance or time:

They always identify nouns, whether those nouns are named specifically or not. They can be used to describe people when the person is identified in the sentence. Demonstrative pronouns can be used in place of a noun, so long as the noun being replaced can be understood from the pronoun’s context.

Possessive pronouns are used to show possession.

Possessive pronouns do not contain apostrophes.

Relative pronouns can be used to join two sentences.

Relative pronouns typically introduced extra information in a sentence. The relative pronouns whom and whomever are rarely used in every day conversations; however, it is best to use them when writing to ensure that your writing is grammatically correct.

Interrogative pronouns are used when asking questions. We use what when the options are unlimited or unrestricted. We use which when the options are limited.

Reciprocal pronouns are used to indicate that two or more people are carrying out action simultaneously. Any time something is done or given in return, reciprocal pronouns are used. There are only two reciprocal pronouns, Each other and One another and they are generally interchangeable.

A reflexive pronoun indicates that the person who is doing the action of the verb is also the recipient of that action.

An intensive pronoun is almost identical to a reflexive pronoun. Intensive pronoun is used when you want to place emphasis on its antecedent.

You can tell the difference between a reflexive pronoun and an intensive pronoun easily because Intensive pronouns aren’t essential to a sentence’s basic meaning.

I know that this was a long video but there was a lot to cover. So, thank you for sticking with me to the end.

If you are looking for more ways to improve your English, head on over to my website, John’s ESL Community, where you’ll find tutorials, games and activities designed to help you learn and improve your English. The link is in the description.

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Don't let your accent
keep you from your
dreams.