The term pronoun covers many words, some of which do not fall easily under the generic description of words that replace nouns. There are several different kinds of pronouns, including:
- Personal pronouns (e.g., he, they)
- Demonstrative pronouns (e.g., this, these)
- Interrogative pronouns (e.g., which, who)
- Indefinite pronouns (e.g., none, several)
- Possessive pronouns (e.g., his, your)
- Reciprocal pronouns (e.g., each other, one another)
- Relative pronouns (e.g., which, where)
- Reflexive pronouns (e.g., itself, himself)
- Intensive pronouns (e.g., itself, himself)
The Different Types of PronounsThe term pronoun covers many words, some of which do not fall easily under the description given in the section What are Pronouns? There are many different kinds of pronouns. In general, these do not cause difficulties for native English speakers. The list below is mainly for reference purposes.
Demonstrative PronounsThese pronouns are used to demonstrate (or indicate). This, that, these and those are all demonstrative pronouns.
Indefinite PronounsUnlike demonstrative pronouns, which point out specific items, indefinite pronouns are used for non-specific things. This is the largest group of pronouns. All, some, any, several, anyone, nobody, each, both, few, either, none, one and no one are the most common.
Interrogative PronounsThese pronouns are used in questions. Although they are classified as pronouns, it is not easy to see how they replace nouns. Who, which, what, where and how are all interrogative pronouns.
Personal PronounsThe personal pronouns are I, you, he, she, it, we, they, and who. More often than not (but not exclusively), they replace nouns representing people. When most people think of pronouns, it is the personal pronouns that usually spring to mind.
Possessive PronounsPossessive pronouns are used to show possession. As they are used as adjectives, they are also known as possessive adjectives. My, your, his, her, its, our and their are all possessive pronouns.
Relative PronounsRelative pronouns are used to add more information to a sentence. Which, that, who (including whom and whose) and where are all relative pronouns.
Absolute Possessive PronounsThese pronouns also show possession. Unlike possessive pronouns (see above), which are adjectives to nouns, these pronouns sit by themselves. Mine, yours, his, hers, ours and theirs are all absolute possessive pronouns.
Reciprocal PronounsReciprocal pronouns are used for actions or feelings that are reciprocated. The two most common reciprocal pronouns are each other and one another.
Reflexive PronounsA reflexive pronoun ends ...self or ...selves and refers to another noun or pronoun in the sentence (usually the subject of the sentence). The reflexive pronouns aremyself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves and themselves.
Intensive (or Emphatic) PronounsAn intensive pronoun (sometimes called an emphatic pronoun) refers back to another noun or pronoun in the sentence to emphasize it (e.g., to emphasize that it is the thing carrying out the action).
should be No one ever died...
See the lesson No One & Noone.
NONE – SINGULAR OR PLURAL?
There is a growing misconception that none is always singular. Itís not. It can be singular or plural. However, this "rule" is so well promulgated, many of your grammar-savvy readers will expect it to be singular. If your none translates as not one, treat it as singular. If it better translates as not any, treat it as plural. Your best bet is to play it by ear. Or, try your hardest to treat none as singular, but, if you canít bear how it sounds, go plural.
ITS NOT IT'S
The word its (note, no apostrophe) is a possessive pronoun, just like his, her and my.
It's (with an apostrophe) is short for it is or it has. If you cannot substitute it's with it is or it has, then it is wrong! This is covered more in the lesson Its and It's.
There are no apostrophes in absolute possessive pronouns (also called absolute possessives).
COMMAS OR NOT?
The first example in Relative Pronouns (left) has commas around the clause who studied at Cambridge for 12 years, but the second example does not have commas around who first saw the comet. These clauses are called relative clauses.
The first example refers to Dr Adam Sissons and the second example refers back to the man. These are called the antecedents of the relative clauses.
When a relative clause (like who saw the comet) is required to identify the antecedent (in this case the man), then no commas are used. When it is just additional information (like who studied at Cambridge for 12 years), then commas are required.
This is covered more in the lesson Which, That and Who – Commas or Not?.