Pronouns : Indefinite Pronouns

Pronouns : Indefinite Pronouns

Like any other pronoun, indefinite pronouns are used to replace nouns

An indefinite pronoun refers to a non-specific person or object.

The indefinite pronouns in most common use are:  all, any, anyone, anything, each, everybody, everyone, everything, few, many, nobody, none, one, several, some, somebody, and someone.

  • To be happy and is something that everybody wants.
  • Everything comes to he who waits.
  • Nothing happened when I turned the light out.
  • Anything is better than nothing.
  • The few were sacrificed for the benefit of the many.

Again, many of these words can be used as adjectives to modify nouns, it’s tricky…

When a word like some, many or each is used as an adjective, it is known as an indefinite adjective.

  • All can benefit from the new technology. – indefinite pronoun
  • All children enjoy playing on the swings at that park. – indefinite adjective (modifies children)
  • Many find themselves wondering how to survive in the modern world. – indefinite pronoun
  • Many hands make light work.- indefinite adjective (modifies hands)

One of the problems with the use of indefinite pronouns is to know whether they are singular or plural. Below is a table containing many of the most common indefinite pronouns and indicathing whether they are singular or plural

Singular Indefinite Pronouns Plural Indefinite Pronouns Indefinite Pronouns
(Can be Singular or Plural)

Pronouns : Interrogative Pronouns

Pronouns : Interrogative Pronouns

 Interrogative pronouns represent a person or an object that is the focus of a question

Some examples of the main words interrogative pronouns are words such as: who, whom, whose, whichwhat, whoever, whomever, whichever, and whatever.

  • What is it?
  • Whom shall we say is calling?
  • Whose did the judges select for the prize?
  • Which is the best?
  • Who needs a cup of tea?
  • Whatever did you do to upset you sister?
  • Whoever wants keep a snake as a pet?

But be careful… 

Some of these words can be interrogative adjectives.

  • Which camera is the most expensive?
  • What car would you like to drive if you had the choice?

In these cases ‘which’ modifies the noun camera and ‘what’ modifies the noun ‘car’ so these words are adjectives not pronouns…

Tricky, eh? Luckily this is not a distinction that a pupil of primary school age is ever likely to have to make!

Pronouns : Demonstrative Pronouns

Pronouns : Demonstrative Pronouns

As with all pronouns, demonstrative pronouns replace nouns.

Demonstrative pronouns are used to replace nouns (people or objects) that have been previously mentioned to that the listener/reader can understand from the context of the conversation/text.

The demonstrative pronouns are this, that, these, and those.

A demonstrative pronoun used in context enables us to tell whether the noun it replaces is something singular or plural and whether that thing(s) is/are close at hand or at some distance.

This and that replace singular nouns.

This represents something close at hand:

  • This is very pretty.

That represents something further away:

  • That is massive!
These and those replace plural nouns.

These represents something close by:

  • These look delicious.

Those represents something further away:

  • Don’t buy those.

This, that, these, and those can also be Demonstrative Adjectives, which modify nouns or pronouns.

In this situation they cannot stand alone or replace a noun but rather indicate exactly which noun is being considered:

  • This milk is out of date.
  • That dog is in a sorry state.
  • Those oranges are very juicy.
  • These pencils all beed to be sharpened.


Pronouns : Personal Pronouns

All about personal pronouns.

All children use pronouns without even thinking.

The important thing is that they recognise the words in the table below as being pronouns and not particularly that they know all the jargon and the technical, grammar nerd differences between them.

Personal pronouns are used to represent people or objects, animals, etc. The personal pronouns are: I, you, he, she, it, we and they.

Native English speakers will get the right personal pronoun without thinking but we all select a personal pronoun having automatically considered the following:

  • Number – is the personal pronoun representing something singular or plural.
  • Person – Is the personal pronoun representing something in the first, second or third person
  • Gender – is the personal pronoun representing something male, female, or without any gender.
  • Case – is the personal pronoun representing something which is a subject or an object?
The Personal Pronouns and Their Possessive Versions
Person Subjective Case Objective Case Possessive Case
Absolute Possessive Pronouns
Possessive Case
Possessive Adjective
First Person Singular I me mine my
Second Person Singular you you yours your
Third Person Singular he she it him her it his hers its his her its
First Person Plural we us ours our
Second Person Plural you you yours your
Third Person Plural they them theirs their
Subjective Personal Pronouns

The pronouns in the list above which are the pronouns we use  for the subjects of verbs. They are I, you, he, she, it, we and they.

He is silly.
They are going to the cinema

Objective Personal Pronouns

The objective personal pronouns are me, you, him, her, it, us, and them.

These are the versions used when the personal pronouns are objects of verbs:

  • I have never heard of him.
  • Mum gave them some sandwiches.
  • Suzanne had a dog and took it to school.
Possessive Case Absolute Possessive Pronouns

These are : my, your, his, hers, its, our and their.

  • You can’t borrow that pen because it’s mine.
  • I cant find mobile can I borrow yours?
  • My sister’s house is bigger than ours.
Possessive Case Possessive Adjectives

Obviously these are adjectives not pronouns but I include them hare cos it’s related and it feels right that I should:

  • Have you seen my cat?
  • Every dog has its day.
  • Dad gave the children their tea because mum was out.

Pronouns : Definition and usage

All about Pronouns

A pronoun is used in place of a noun that has already been mentioned or that is already known, to help avoid repetition.

  • Pete was happy so he jumped for joy.
  • Alice took the dog with her to school.
  • Albert’s dinner looked much tastier than ours.
  • That is a silly thing to say.
  • Somethinghas to change.

One of the main issues that I have come across in children writing is the problem of the unassigned pronoun – that is, a pronoun usesd when it is unclear as to which noun it is replacing.

  • The dogs were taken to the park by Sharon and her brother so that they could get some exercise.
  • John and his brother fell out when he found out that he had broken his iPad

So who is intended to benefit from the exercise in the above sentence, the dogs or the children..? Who broke the iPad and to whom did it belong?

There is a detailed explanation at chomp of the whole issue and hoe to avoid it – its probably much more than primary age children need to be concerned with, but it is interesting and amusing…

The section that follows on pronouns will lay out the different types of pronoun and, hopefully, help in avoiding some of the pitfalls that lead to ambiguity when writing.

The Apostrophe: It’s or its? and other stuff… 

The word it’s only has an apostrophe when it is a contraction of it is or it has.

It’s a lovely day.
The film was poor, I’m glad it’s finished.
Now I can ride a bike, it’s easy!

Apostrophes are used to show possession, but there are other ways to show possession using possessive pronouns or determiners:

Possessive pronouns: mine, yours, his, hers, its, our, theirs.
Determiners: my, your, his, her, its, our, their. 

These words do give an indication of belonging or possession, and some of them end in -s, but they never have an apostrophe.

So, if you are not sure whether to write its or it’s, simply substitute the words ”it is“. As a rule of thumb, if the sentence still makes sense then you can still use the apostrophe, otherwise leave it out.

Generally apostrophes are never used to form plurals. However, it is acceptable to use an apostrophe for the sake of clarity when forming the plural of a single letter or a single number:

Find all the number 7’s on this page.
Mind your p’s and q’s.
Put a circle round all the t’s in tittle-tattle.