Definition: A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. Pronouns can be in one of three cases: Subject, Object, or Possessive.
Rule 1: Subject pronouns are used when the pronoun is the subject of the sentence. You can remember subject pronouns easily by filling in the blank subject space for a simple sentence.
Example: _____ did the assignment for Dr. Rose’s class.
I, you, he, she, it, we, and they all fit into the blank and are, therefore, subject pronouns.
Rule 2: Subject pronouns are also used if they rename the subject. They will follow to be verbs such as is, are, was, were, am, and will be.
Examples: It is he.
It is we who are responsible for the decision to downsize.
Rule 3: Object pronouns are used everywhere else (direct object, indirect object, object of the preposition). Object pronouns are me, you, him, her, it, us, and them.
Examples: Aishah Jalil talked to him.
Are you talking to me?
*To be able to choose pronouns correctly, you must learn to identify clauses. A clause is a group of words containing a verb and subject.
Rule 4 (a): A strong clause can stand on its own.
Examples: She is hungry.
I am feeling well today.
Rule 4 (b): A weak clause begins with words such as although, since, if, when, and because. Weak clauses cannot stand on their own.
Examples: Although she is hungry…
If she is hungry…
Since I am feeling well today…
Rule 4 (c): If a sentence contains more than one clause, isolate the clauses, so that you can decide which pronoun is correct.
Examples: (weak) Although she is hungry, (strong) she will give him some of her food.
(weak) Although this gift is for him, (strong) I would like you to have it.
Rule (5): Possessive pronouns show ownership and never need apostrophes. Possessive pronouns are mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, and theirs.
*The only time it’s has an apostrophe is when it is a contraction for ‘it is’ or ‘it has.’
Rule (6): Reflexive pronouns (myself, himself, herself, itself, themselves, ourselves, yourself, yourselves) should be used only when they refer back to another word in the sentence.
Correct: I did it myself.
Incorrect: My brother and myself did it.
*The word myself does not refer back to another word.
Correct: My brother and I did it.
Incorrect: Please give it to Shafiq or myself.
Correct: Please give it to Shafiq or me.