Grammar Tips: Pesky Pronouns

by Sheila J Tofflemire on Tuesday, June 29, 2010, 1:22 pm · 1 comment

in Grammar Tips

What is a pronoun? It’s simply a word that takes the place of a noun.

Pronoun cases: Subject, Object, Possessive, Reflexive

1) Subject: I, you, he, she, it, we, they

Use subject pronouns when…

(a) the pronoun is the subject of the sentence:

I am the boss.
She is my friend.
We are out of time.

(b) the pronoun renames the subject*:

It was she.
This is he speaking.
It was they who chose not to attend.

*follows “to be” verbs: is, are, was, were, am, will be

2) Object: Me, you, him, her, it, us, them

Use object pronouns everywhere else.

Mary walked with us.
When can you visit me?
I met him yesterday.

Here’s where it gets a little tricky… How do you decide whether the Subject or Object pronoun should follow the words than or as? See if you can choose correctly by completing the sentence:

John is as punctual as she/her.
Completing the sentence, it reads: John is as punctual as she (is).

Everyone is faster than I/me.
Completing the sentence, it reads: Everyone is faster than I (am).

3) Possessive: mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, theirs

Use possessive pronouns to show ownership – they NEVER take an apostrophe.

Did you pick up her dry cleaning?
The car is ours tonight.
Have they found their dog yet?

Note: Its is a possessive pronoun. It’s is a contraction meaning “it is” or “it has”. Remember: Possessive pronouns never take an apostrophe.

4) Reflexive: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves

Reflexive pronouns are always used as objects, when the subject and the object are the same and to emphasize the subject.

Correct Usage:

I injured myself.
My father can drive himself to the doctor.
She talks to herself when under stress.
We can do the job ourselves.

Incorrect Usage:

Mary and myself have the time to walk the dog.
Correct: Mary and I have the time to walk the dog.

Bill gave John and yourself his change of address.
Correct: Bill gave John and you his change of address.

Note: The trick to using reflexive pronouns correctly is to remember that they’re always used as objects and must refer back to another word in the sentence.

Source: The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation by Jane Strauss

Kindle Edition

I highly recommend this easy-to-use grammar guide. Besides great instruction, it comes with lots of quizzes to give you practice.

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