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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.


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