Easy Pronoun Rules
Here are 5 easy rules and tips to help you avoid mistakes with English pronouns. For more comprehensive rules please look under the appropriate pronoun on our pronoun grammar pages.
1. A personal pronoun AGREES with the noun it replaces.
- Those cars are nice. They look expensive.
- John works hard. He will do well.
- That woman is my teacher. Do you know her?
- My friend and I are going shopping. Like to join us?
2. DO NOT place an adjective before a personal pronoun. A subject personal pronoun can have an adjective AFTER the verb. (Exceptions are fixed phrases like poor me, lucky you.)
handsome him, red them
beautiful she, dangerous it, clever they
- She looked beautiful. It was dangerous. They are clever.
- The red bag is hers and the blue bag is ours. (NOT The red bag is
her'sand the blue bag is our's.)
- One must do it oneself. (NOT
- He's finished. (contraction = He is)
- It's started. (contraction = It has)
4. My is NOT a pronoun. A pronoun replaces a noun. In "This is my bag" the word my describes bag (it is a possessive determiner). In "This bag is mine" the word mine replaces my bag (it is a real pronoun). The same is true of your, its, our, their - they are possessive determiners. His and her can be pronoun OR possessive determiner.
- Is this your car? (possessive determiner)
- Where are our keys? (possessive determiner)
- Jo sold his car. (possessive determiner)
- He took my hand in his. (possessive pronoun)
- She loved her work. (possessive determiner)
- I agreed to wait for her. (personal pronoun)
5. DON'T put yourself first! It is good manners to put the other person before you. (This is not a question of grammar - just manners.)
- My wife and I are going swimming. (NOT
I and my wifeare going swimming)
- Ram, Tara and I went home. (NOT
I, Ram and Tarawent home)
- This is for you and me. (NOT This is for
me and you)
- They took John and me to the beach. (NOT They took
me and Johnto the beach)