Writing Tips: 8 Types of Pronoun
  • 5-minute read
  • 17th August 2020

Writing Tips: 8 Types of Pronoun

Pronouns are to language what screws are to flat pack furniture: they might seem insignificant at first, but without them everything else would fall apart.

That’s because pronouns can take the place of other nouns in a sentence, saving us from having to repeat the same words over and over. But the best term to use at any point depends on the situation, so you need to understand how different types of pronoun work.





1. Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns are used in place of a specific person or thing.

There are different personal pronouns depending on whether we’re referring to the subject or object of a sentence, grammatical person, gender, and the number of things/people in question. There are also possessive forms of these pronouns used to indicate possession or ownership.

Make sure not to confuse possessive pronouns with possessive adjectives, though! The latter always modify a noun: e.g., you would say “It is my car” (adjective) or “The car is mine” (pronoun), not “It is mine car” or “The car is my.”

2. Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are used in place of particular things to show which one we’re discussing. For instance, in:

I don’t like that one, but I do like this one!

The words “that” and “this” each indicate specific things in relation to the speaker. “This” (plural = “these”) is used to refer to nearby things, while “that” (plural = “those”) refers to things far away.

We can illustrate this via cartoon cows at various distances.
The same rules apply when these words are used as adjectives before a noun, as shown here with cows.

3. Relative Pronouns

We use a relative pronoun when describing a noun in terms of how it relates to another word. For example:

You’re face-to-face with the man who sold the world!

In the above, “who” is a relative pronoun because it helps to show the relationship between the nouns “man” and “world,” thereby indicating that we’re referring to a specific person.

'I sold it for two bob and a cigarette. It seemed a fair price.'
“I sold it for two bob and a cigarette. It seemed a fair price.”


The main relative pronouns for referring to people are “who” (subject) and “whom” (object). The other key terms in this category are “which” (used for things) and “that” (used for either people or things).

4. Reciprocal Pronouns

Reciprocal pronouns express a mutual relationship or action. In English, we use “each other” and “one another” for this purpose. For instance:

Shirley and Jack look after each other.

Here, “each other” shows that the relationship between the nouns “Shirley” and “Jack” is reciprocal (i.e., it goes two ways). The alternative would be to write “Shirley looks after Jack and Jack looks after Shirley,” which makes it easy to see how important pronouns are for writing concisely!

If you haven't seen The Apartment yet, you definitely should.
If you haven’t seen The Apartment already, you definitely should.

5. Indefinite Pronouns

As the name suggests, indefinite pronouns are used when referring to something non-specific (e.g., “everyone” or “everything”) or something unknown (e.g., “someone” or “something”). They can be broken down into singular, plural and singular/plural pronouns:

Number

Examples

Singular

another, anybody, anyone, anything, each, either, everybody, neither, nobody, no one, nothing, somebody

Plural

both, few, many, others, several

Singular/Plural

all, any, more, most, none, some, such

Whether an indefinite pronoun is singular or plural determines the kind of verbs they are used with. For instance, in “each cake has a cherry on top,” we use the singular verb “has” to match the singular indefinite pronoun “each.” In “many cakes have cherries on top,” on the other hand, we use the plural verb “have” instead to fit with the plural pronoun.

Find this useful?

Subscribe to our newsletter and get writing tips from our editors straight to your inbox.

Indefinite pronouns also differ slightly from other pronouns in that they often replace other nouns completely rather than referring to a noun used previously (e.g., we don’t have to name every single person in a room before we can refer to them as “everybody in the room”).

6. Interrogative Pronouns

You’ll be glad to hear that interrogative pronouns are a little simpler. These are pronouns we use for asking questions, such as “who” or “what”:

Who broke this lamp? And what are we going to do about it?

We use “who” (subject), “whom” (object) and “whose” (possessive) when referring to people, while we can use “which” and “what” to ask questions about either people or things.

7. Reflexive Pronouns

Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject of a sentence is also the object of the sentence, such as in:

I punched myself in the face.

Here, “myself” is used as the object of the sentence (the thing that got punched) and refers back to the subject “I” (the thing doing the punching). Other reflexive pronouns include:

  • Singular – myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself
  • Plural – ourselves, yourselves, themselves

As you can see, these terms are formed by adding “-self” (singular) or “-selves” (plural) to a possessive adjective.

8. Intensive Pronouns

Intensive pronouns are actually the same words as reflexive pronouns but function differently. In this case, they add emphasis, like in the sentence:

She mastered pronouns all by herself!

Here, “herself” refers to the subject of the sentence (“she”) to stress that the achievement was hers alone. And as with the reflexive pronouns described above, intensive pronouns are formed by adding “-self” (singular) or “-selves” (plural) to a personal pronoun.

And there you go! Those are the different types of pronoun. If you still have difficulty knowing when to use specific terms, getting your work proofread is a great way of receiving feedback and enhancing your writing style.

Comments (44)
teacher
24th May 2021 at 09:03
I really love this explanation it helped me understand a lot
    Julius Morrison Saffa
    24th November 2021 at 10:14
    I appreciate it so much, it has inspired me a lot.
      Aliyu abubakar
      14th October 2022 at 09:04
      I'm really appreciated , thanks for your efforts.
      Amica mea
      22nd October 2022 at 15:28
      The meaning is very useful and a have learn a lot clear.
      Proofed
      28th October 2022 at 15:31
      Thanks, Amica! I'm glad you found this helpful.
Shakti Yadav
29th May 2021 at 02:21
Love this explaination
Gael
2nd June 2021 at 14:11
I appreciate this explanation
    Shubham Chayrasiya
    14th November 2022 at 01:25
    Nice this is very helpful
      Proofed
      19th November 2022 at 10:49
      Hi, Shubham. Glad you found this useful!
Aminu Garba
8th August 2021 at 17:27
This explanation it helped me to understand more about the types of pronoun
    Ashirudeen
    23rd September 2021 at 21:55
    WOW 😣😣😣.I really thank you guys a lot.i just finished my assignment wit u guys help
    Alamzaib khan
    15th November 2022 at 16:00
    It's very useful and easy for understaning thanks for your efforts.
      Proofed
      19th November 2022 at 11:09
      Hi, Alamzaib. You're very welcome! Really glad this was helpful.
Asmita pramanik
23rd August 2021 at 02:11
I really really appreciate this explanation.
    Jacob m Kollie
    2nd September 2021 at 12:35
    I love the explanation but please add the other pronoun so it can be complete
      Proofed
      2nd September 2021 at 14:35
      Hi, Jacob. Which pronoun types would you like to see added? If you let us know, we can probably do something (or schedule a new post to cover them).
Hiya
17th October 2021 at 15:29
I need one more meaning of emphatic pronoun please add that.
    Proofed
    18th October 2021 at 11:20
    Hi there. "Emphatic pronoun" is just another term for what we call an "intensive pronoun" in this post. The idea is that people use a reflexive pronoun (e.g., myself, herself, himself, ourselves) to emphasize the agency of the person mentioned in the sentence (e.g., to emphasize that the person or people mentioned earlier in the sentence were responsible for the action described). For instance, we could say "I, myself, have never ridden a camel." Here, the "myself" is not reflexive; it is simply reinforcing the idea that the speaker is talking about themselves (and nobody else). Hope that helps.
Niels
7th November 2021 at 21:16
What about possessive pronouns?
    Proofed
    9th November 2021 at 12:29
    Hi, Niels. We have added something about this to the "personal pronoun" section.
alex
11th November 2021 at 14:02
thanks for information about pronouns.
Fauzy
14th November 2021 at 16:34
A good explaination
    Favour
    6th October 2022 at 19:00
    I really what to know what possessive pronoun please Is intensive pronoun the same for possessive pronoun
      Proofed
      13th October 2022 at 16:07
      Hi, Favour. We’ve included an explanation of possessive pronouns together with personal pronouns in section 1 of the article. Intensive pronouns are used for emphasis rather than to show possession; these are described in section 8. I hope this helps!
Trish
9th January 2022 at 14:27
The examples of the cows (cute!) for demonstrative pronouns are actually demonstrative adjectives.
    Proofed
    10th January 2022 at 09:56
    Good point, Trish! It was actually an image reused from an older post (hence it not quite being the right fit for this one), but we've updated the caption now to clarify the distinction.
MEDA REVENTH CHOWDHARY
23rd January 2022 at 08:53
Where is the possessive pronoun
    Proofed
    24th January 2022 at 09:31
    We mentioned possessive pronouns in the first section (as a variation of personal pronouns). Hope that helps, but let us know if there is something specific you wanted to see discussed.
Lucas
22nd April 2022 at 18:41
This article really helped me better understand all those different types of pronouns, but I think I've caught a mistake there, at the end of the 7th part. We do not add "-self" and "-selves" to personal pronouns, rather to possessive adjectives. It even says in the 1st part to distinguish the possessive pronouns (mine, yours, etc.) from possessive adjectives (my, your and so on).
    Proofed
    25th April 2022 at 09:05
    Thanks for your comment, Lucas! Typo now corrected.
Emmanuel
31st May 2022 at 06:09
Thanks to you guys I really appreciate
Caroline
11th June 2022 at 14:26
Thank you so much for this explanation I really appreciate it a lot Keep it up
Madhavi Jha
17th June 2022 at 16:46
Understandable explanation thanks for it 👌👍
    Madhavi Jha
    17th June 2022 at 16:50
    What is possessive pronoun
      Proofed
      20th June 2022 at 09:48
      Hi, Madhavi. We mention possessive pronouns in the section on personal pronouns. In broad terms, they are pronouns used to indicate ownership or possession: e.g., the pronoun "mine" means "belongs to me," so "It is mine" would mean "It belongs to me." Hope that helps, but let us know if you have more specific questions.
Anas Gour
7th September 2022 at 14:30
English grammar
    Proofed
    9th September 2022 at 12:54
    Hi, Anas. We hope you found this article helpful! Let us know if you have any questions.
Faima noor
3rd October 2022 at 12:30
Nice
    Proofed
    13th October 2022 at 15:28
    Great! I'm glad you found this article helpful.
Koksal
20th October 2022 at 09:10
Thank you. The only thing is, you could have included a PDF version that can be downloaded.
    Proofed
    21st October 2022 at 14:37
    Hi, Koksal. You’re welcome! Good suggestion; we’ll see what we can do about making articles downloadable in future.
    Shubham Chayrasiya
    14th November 2022 at 01:23
    Nice and thank you.
Isabella Holland
2nd November 2022 at 23:33
Thank you it was so much help to my Homework on the 8 or 7 different types of pronouns I appreciate it.
    Proofed
    4th November 2022 at 09:53
    You're welcome, Isabella! Glad this helped.

Upload a document

Instant Quote

Need more help perfecting your writing?

Proofed has the perfect editor!

Instant Quote

Price

You can also upload a document to get an instant quote

Icon of cloud upload

Drag & drop your file

or browse your computer

Browse from your device

Icon of cloud upload

Drop your file here!

Icon of loading status

Your file is being
uploaded!

More Writing Tips?
Trusted by thousands of leading
institutions and businesses

Make sure your writing is the best it can be with our expert English proofreading and editing.