What Are Pronouns?

The Quick Answer
Pronouns replace nouns. If we didn't have pronouns, we'd have to keep repeating our nouns and that would make our sentences very cumbersome and repetitive. Pronouns are usually short words.

When most people think of pronouns, words like he, she, and they spring to mind, but there are several different types of pronouns, including personal pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, interrogative pronouns, indefinite pronouns, possessive pronouns, reciprocal pronouns, relative pronouns, reflexive pronouns, and intensive pronouns.

Pronouns

Most of the time, a pronoun is used to replace a noun. The following are all pronouns: he, she, they, none, and which. There are lots more. As you can see, pronouns are usually short words. They are used to make sentences less cumbersome and less repetitive.

Examples:
  • Clutching the coin, Maria ran to the shops. She went straight to the counter and bought the sweets.
  • (She is a pronoun. In this example, it replaces the noun Maria. Pronouns are used for brevity. Imagine how wearisome a long prose would be if the writer used the full noun (in this case Maria every time.)

  • The 8-mile walk passes through pasture, parkland and woodland. It takes you alongside many points of interest including a disused airfield.
  • (It is a pronoun. In this example, it replaces the 8-mile walk.)
  • Tell the finance team that they can use the minibus tomorrow.
  • (They is a pronoun. It replaces the finance team.)

More Than Just the Personal Pronouns

I, you, he, she, it, we, they, and who are all pronouns. As these pronouns often replace nouns representing people, they are called the personal pronouns. When most people think of pronouns, it is the personal pronouns that usually spring to mind, but, in fact, there are several different types of pronouns, including: As stated at the start, most of the time, a pronoun is used to replace a noun, but a pronoun can also replace another pronoun or a noun phrase (which is basically just a noun made up of more than one word).

See Also

What are adjectives? What are adverbs? What are conjunctions? What are interjections? What are prepositions? What are verbs? What are nouns? The different types of nouns Demonstrative pronouns Indefinite pronouns Interrogative pronouns Personal pronouns Possessive pronouns Reciprocal pronouns Relative pronouns Reflexive pronouns The different types of pronouns