Before I began tutoring people in the English language, if one had asked me to list the pronouns, I would probably have responded, after some thought, with “I”, “you”, “he”, “she”, “it”, “we”, and “they”. More than likely, I would not have ventured much further; perhaps the possessive pronouns, though I would never have considered the differences between the “my” and “mine” of things or the “our” and “ours”.
Things have certainly changed since those early days, and I now recognize the proverbial plethora of pronouns that exist in the English language. My first list referenced the Personal Pronouns. They represent the first person “I”, the second person “you” (both singular and plural), and the third person “he”, “she”, “it”, “we”, and “they”. Of course, these are only the subjective forms of personal pronouns. The objective forms would be “me”, “him”, “her”, “us”, and “them”. “You” and “it” in the subjective form is repeated in the objective form.
From there, the Possessive Pronouns come to mind., and here, things begin to get complicated. By the word “possessive”, I imagine you get the drift on how these pronouns are used: as a matter of simple ownership. We have Possessive Adjectives – also called Dependent Possessive (Determiners) – that would include “my”, “your”, “his”, “her”, “its”, “our”, “their”, and the oddball “whose”. Then, there’s the Absolute Possessive Pronouns – also called Independent Possessive – that would include “mine”, “yours”, “his”, “hers”, “ours”, and “theirs”. Are you out of breath yet?
On we go to the Reflexive Pronouns. First, they’re easy to spot. They use the suffix “self” for the singular case and “selves” for the plural case. When you find them in a sentence they are accompanied by the noun or pronoun they are reflexive of; so the reflexive pronoun “myself” would have the pronoun “I” located in the sentence: “I bought myself a new car.” It’s sort of like talking to yourself in front of a mirror except you’re actually talking to someone else. It’s all a bit crazy. I mean, couldn’t you just say, “I bought a car.” Somehow it all makes sense to us, and actually, if one considers the effect of the reflexive situation, it seems to draw a bit of emotional tension or excitement to the statement. On another occasion, the reflexive pronoun might be setting up a situation or statement: “So, I said to myself… self, you need to lose weight.”
Similar to the Reflexive Pronoun is the Reciprocal Pronoun. The difference lies in the fact that the Reflexive Pronoun acts upon itself (great… I’m using a reflexive pronoun to describe reflexive pronouns), while the Reciprocal Pronoun acts in a complimentary fashion relative to one another (more pronouns). An example for the former would be: “Bill and Janet bought themselves cars.” An example of the latter would be: “Bill and Janet bought each other cars.”
Moving on, we have the Demonstrative Pronouns: the singular form “this” and “that”, and the plural form “these” and “those”. Oddly, they reference objects that are either close by the user (“this” and “these”), or at some distance from the user (“that” and “those”). They stand alone in their representation of the object(s), while Demonstrative Adjectives (Determiners) are modifying the accompanying object; like “this car”. By the way… I guess the words “former” and “latter” would fall into this category.
Relative Pronouns defy my explanation, though I do use them. They are “which”, “that”, “whose”, “whoever”, “whomever”, “who” and “whom”, and they gain the title Relative when they act as both links between clauses and as the noun within its clause. Heady stuff indeed! I use it. I just can’t explain it.
The Interrogative Pronouns are the questioning pronouns, or the “wh-words”, like “what”, “when”, “where”, who, “whom”, “why”, and “how”. I doubt there’s many of us who would consider these words to be pronouns. Digging into the metaphysics of it all, one might begin to realize that when one asks, “Where are you going?”, the “where” is a substitute for the actual name of the place in which you are going to.
Finally, Indefinite Pronouns “can represent either count nouns or noncount nouns and include a number of sub-categories: universal (such as everyone, everything), assertive existential (such as somebody, something), elective existential (such as anyone, anything), and negative (such as nobody, nothing)”. Thanks to WIKI for this quotation that originated in the book, A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language; ISBN 9780582517349. I’m getting tired, and I expect that you intend, at this point, to never try to tutor your students in the use of pronouns. There’s a lot to consider, and those who speak the English language natively have little understanding of what they are doing so naturally.
Get a count of how many times I used pronouns in this introduction, and you’ll come away with an understanding on why you will be tutoring your students in pronoun usage. A few of the exercises and lessons below are from Grammar Monster; all good credit to it. There’s many more excellent sites that can assist you in getting your act together on the subject of pronouns. Have at it.