5. Pronouns

Pronouns are used to replace nouns in a sentence.

There are several types of pronouns that you need to be able to recognize – personal, possessive, and indefinite.

Personal/Possessive

singular
first:
I, me, my mine, myself
second:
you, your, yours, yourself
third:
it, he, she, its, his, her, hers, itself, himself, herself

plural
first: we, us, our, ours
second:
you, your, yours, yourselves
third:
they, them, their, theirs, themselves 

Indefinite

Always singular

  1. any pronoun ending in –one, -body, -other, or –thing
  2. each (of)
  3. either (of)
  4. much (of)
  5. neither (of)

May be singular or plural

  1. all
  2. any
  3. none
  4. some

Collective nouns

These are groups that act as a unit, and they are singular. The ONLY pronouns that you use with collective nouns are “it” and “its.”

audience                                  company                                  group

class                                         crowd                                      jury

college                                     family                                      society

committee                              government                              team

All of this is important to know so that you can use the correct pronoun to refer to a noun or an indefinite pronoun. That’s called pronoun-antecedent agreement.

Antecedent – the word the pronoun refers to
Pronoun-antecedent agreement – making sure the antecedent and pronoun(s) agree in number

  • a singular noun/singular indefinite pronoun needs singular pronouns
  • a plural noun/plural indefinite pronoun needs plural pronouns

The people in this room all have their heads down and are looking at their phones.

  • antecedent – people
  • pronouns referring to the antecedent – their, their

Someone who lives in your dorm has left his computer in the library.

  • antecedent – someone (indefinite pronoun that is ALWAYS SINGULAR)
  • pronouns referring to the antecedent – his

The jury returned its verdict after it discussed the case for three hours.

  • antecedent – jury (collective noun that is ALWAYS SINGULAR)
  • pronouns referring to the antecedent – its, it