Subject pronouns: I, you, he, she, it, we, they

Object pronouns: me, you, him, her, it, us, them

Generic pronouns: you, we, one, they

Possessive pronouns: my, her, his, your, our, their. – mine, his, hers, yours, ours, theirs

Object pronouns

1) We use object pronouns after verbs

a) We like her

b) She loves me

2) We use object pronouns after prepositions

a) You told them about us

b) They will listen to us.

3) We use a personal object pronoun by itself in a short response.

a) I’m feeling hungry – Me too

b) Who was making all that noise? – Them, not us.

c) Both of my brothers are older than me.

Generic pronouns

1) We use you ‘for people in general’, including the speaker.

a) If you are selfish, it means you are only concerned about yourself and your interests.

2) We use we to make a statement of opnion more general and to include the reader/listener.

a) When we think of cheese, we don’t usually think of sheep.

3)  The use of one for ‘people in general’ is very formal and rarely used in modern English.

a) If one wished to be a good parent, one should never lose one’s temper with a young child.

Possessive pronouns

1) We use ‘mine, his, hers, yours, ours, theirs’ in a place of possessive phrases

a) I couldn’t work in Mary’s room. Hers is even smaller than yours or mine.

2) We use ‘mine, his, hers, yours, ours, theirs’ in answer to questions with Whose?

a) Whose bag is this? – It is mine.

3) We use ‘mine, his, hers, yours, ours, theirs’ in of-phrases to talk about nonspecific (a painting of his) examples rather than specific or unique examples (his painting)

a) Was Erica a friend of yours?

b) I went hiking with some of friends of mine.

Demonstrative pronouns: this these, that, those

1) We use this/these when we introduce people

a) This is Ann Thomas and these are her sons.

2)  We use that/ those when we identify people

a) That’s Mr Parker and those are her two grandchildren.

3) We can use demonstratives to make a contrast between what is close in time – this/ these

a) The next questions is this: who will pay for it? There are the best days of your life, so enjoy them.

4) We use that/those to talk about what is further away in time.

a) Jack and Sandry got married? When did that happen?

b) Those were the happiest days of my life.

Indefinite pronouns: someone, something, anyone, anything, everyone, everything, no one, nothing

1) After indefinite pronouns as subjects we usually use singular verbs and plural pronouns

a) Someone has been calling and saying they have to talk to you about their schedule

b) If anyone calls just take their number.

2) We usually use someone/something in positive sentences or questions expecting positive answers

a) I was looking for someone who spoke Arabic.

b) Can I ask you something about the homework?

3) We use anyone/anything in sentences with negative elements or in open questions and when we mean ‘it doesn’t matter who or what’

a) Can you see anyone outside?

b) I didn’t say anything.

c) It isn’t difficult, anyone can do it.

Reflexive pronouns: myself, themselves, yourself, himself etc…

1) We use object pronouns (not reflexive) after prepositions of place such as above, below, beside, and near and verbs such as bring and take plus with.

a) Amy put the bag down beside her.

b) You should take an umbrella with you.

2) We use reflexive pronouns for emphasis. And to emphasize ‘without help’

a) This book was signed by the writer herself.

b) I repaired the flat tyre myself.

3) We use reflexives for special emphasis, for example, the action is difficult.

a) Since the accident he can’t dress himself.

Reciprocal pronouns: each other, one another.

1) We use reciprocal pronouns when the same action or feeling goes both ways between two or more people or things.

a) The candidates described each other

2) We use reciprocal pronouns after prepositions

a) The two girls never argued with one another.

3) We use reciprocal pronouns as possessives.

a) They even wore each other’s/ one another’s clothes sometimes.

4) More examples:

a) I asked the boys if they had broken the window and each blamed the other.

b) There are two buses at 5:30 and one always follows the other in case the first one gets full.

Empty subject it

1) We use it as an empty subject in expressions of time, distance and weather.

a) It’s eleven o’clock

b) It’s two miles to town.

c) Is it raining?

2) More examples:

a) It surprised everyone that he won

b) It really frightened me to see the horse and rider fall.

c) It seems that he was unhappy in London.

d) It appears that he has been neglecting his studies.

e) I hate it when the alarm suddenly goes off.

f) My parents love it that we live closer together

g) We thought it strange that he was still in his pyjamas.

h) They regard is as encouraging that both sides are willing to continue negotiations.

Empty subject there

1) After there+be we usually introduce new information with a/an. We can use the or demonstratives when we treat information as familiar or given.

a) There is a long queue

b) There is the problem of parking.

2) We can use passive forms of verbs such as report, say, think between there and to be to report information.

a) There were thought to be some problems in the original design.

3) More examples:

a) There should be a guard here.

b) There certainly are problems

c) There will probably be a fight

d) There seem to be a lot of unanswered questions

e) There didn’t appear to be anyone in charge.

f) There are sure to be protests about the decision.

g) There isn’t likely to be peace for many years.

Substitution: one and ones

1) We use one and ones instead of repeating countable nouns

a) I’ve never seen these small ones in the supermarket.

b) I love these small bananas, but I’ve never seen any in the supermarket. I must get some.

c) Do you have the French dictionary? I’m looking for it. (= a specific French dictionary)

d) I need a pen, preferably a red one. Do you like one?

e) Most of the tomatoes were still green, but I picked out three ripe ones.

2) We don’t usually use the one and ones unless there’s an adjective before the them or descriptive phrase.

a) We bought a new table, so you can have the old one.

b) Do you mean the one in the kitchen?

c) Computers have changed a lot. My new one is so much faster than the other one I used to have.

Substitution: so and do so

1) We can use so instead of repeating a clause after some verbs (hope, be afraid, expect, guess, think) or expectations.

2) We also use so after say and tell instead of repeating what was said.

a) Jones was fired. They said so on the news.

b) I thought it was a mistake to fire him and I told them so.

3) We can use if so instead of repeating a clause in a conditional sentence.

a) Landa says you took her book. If so, you must return it.

4) We can use so after less and more instead of repeating an adjective or an adverb.

a) He used to be really serious. He’s less so now.

b)  They are working hard, even more so than usual.

5) We can use different forms of do plus so instead of repeating the same verb and object.

a) They asked me to revise the first paragraph and I did so.

b) Ann Eliot refused his offer, then regretted doing so.

6) We usually use do so in formal situations. In informal situations we can use do it or do that.

a) Jump across the stream. Come on. Just do it! – oh, no. I can’t do that.

b) Brandon forgot to the rubbish out and I can\t do it. Can you do it?


1) We ususally use Ellipsis instead of repeating words before nouns in phrases joined by and, but, or.

a) You\ll need a pen or _pencil

b) Ashley’s aunt and _uncle own property in France and _Italy.

2) We can also use ellipsis after a comma in a list

a) I’m afraid of_ bees, _wasps and _spiders.