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PRONOUN : RULES

Let us look at some of the important rules of ‘Pronouns’. These rules will allow you to use pronouns with confidence and accuracy. Usually, in any exam related to grammar, questions revolve only around these rules.

RULE 1: While referring to personal pronouns of different PERSONS of PERSONAL PRONOUN, we need to follow an order: 

  • When the personal pronouns are SINGULAR, we write them in the following order:- Second Person – Third Person – First Person
  • When the personal pronouns are PLURAL or when it is a regret, confession or punishment, we write them in the following order:- First Person – Second Person – Third Person

While using personal pronouns of different persons, you need to remember the order.

When the personal pronouns are singular, the second person has the highest priority, and the first person has the least priority. While the third person has priority more than the first person but less than the second person (2,3,1).

When the personal pronouns are plural, the first person has the highest priority, and the third person has the least priority. While the second person has priority more than the first person but less than the second person (1,2,3).

Examples:

When personal pronouns are singular:

  • She, I, and you are selected for representing our school at the quiz competition. (INCORRECT)
  • You, she, and I are selected for representing our school at the quiz competition.(CORRECT)

 

  • I and he will organize this event. (INCORRECT)
  • He and I will organize this event. (CORRECT)

 

When sentence expresses a regret, mistake or punishment:

  • He, I, and you are responsible for this misunderstanding. (INCORRECT)
  • I, you, and he are responsible for this misunderstanding. (CORRECT)

 

  • You and I have caused this blunder. (INCORRECT)
  • I and you have caused this blunder. (CORRECT)

 

When personal pronouns are plural:

  • They, you, and we should forget the past disputes and should start afresh. (INCORRECT)
  • We, you, and they should forget the past disputes and should start afresh. (CORRECT)

RULE 2: When a sentence starting with ‘IT’ and emphasises a pronoun, the pronoun following the ‘to be’ verb should be in SUBJECTIVE case:

The structure ‘It + to be verb + pronoun/noun’ is used to emphasise that a specific person does an action. In this structure, the pronoun used should always be in the SUBJECTIVE case.

Examples:

  • It was him whom I met yesterday in the library. (INCORRECT)
  • It was he whom I met yesterday in the library. (CORRECT)

 

  • It will be us who have to face the consequences. (INCORRECT)
  • It will be we who have to face the consequences. (CORRECT)

 

  • It is them who recently moved to Paris. (INCORRECT)
  • It is they who recently moved to Paris. (CORRECT)

RULE 3: ‘EITHER’, ‘NEITHER’, and ‘EACH OTHER’ are used to point to two nouns simultaneously. While ‘ANYONE’, ‘NONE’ and ‘ONE ANOTHER’ are used to refer to more than two nouns simultaneously:

Examples:

  • Anyone of his arms fractured in the accident. (INCORRECT)
  • Either of his arms fractured in the accident. (CORRECT)

 

  • None of the watches shows the date. (INCORRECT)
  • Neither of the watches shows the date. (CORRECT)

 

  • Can anyone of you help me to carry these boxes?
  • Both boys enjoy playing with each other.
  • All countries must support one another during these tough times.

RULE 4: Reflexive pronouns are not used as a SUBJECT or OBJECT of a sentence:

We use reflexive pronouns when the subject and object of the sentence is the same person. But avoid using Reflexive pronouns as direct subject or object in a sentence.

They are usually preceded by the subject or object of the sentence. But in this case, they become Emphatic pronouns and emphasize that the action is done by the subject preceding them.

Examples:

  • John and myself will investigate this matter. (INCORRECT)
  • John and I will investigate this matter. (CORRECT)
  • John and I myself will investigate this matter. (CORRECT)

 

  • My brother booked tickets to Hawaii for my husband and myself. (INCORRECT)
  • My brother booked tickets to Hawaii for my husband and me. (CORRECT)

RULE 5: While using a pronoun as the object of a verb or a preposition, remember to use it in the OBJECTIVE case: 

Whenever a pronoun is used as an OBJECT of a verb or a preposition, we write it in the OBJECTIVE case. Pay special attention to words like: BETWEEN, LET, LIKE, BUT and EXCEPT

Examples:

  • Let he face the consequences of what he has done in the past. (INCORRECT)
  • Let him face the consequences of what he has done in the past. (CORRECT)

 

  • Find they before sunset. (INCORRECT)
  • Find them before sunset. (CORRECT)

 

  • Whom you trust between her and I? (INCORRECT)
  • Whom you trust between her and me? (CORRECT)

 

  • Celina is an honest person like she. (INCORRECT)
  • Celina is an honest person like her. (CORRECT)

 

  • Nobody helped but me. (INCORRECT)
  • Nobody helped but I. (CORRECT)

RULE 6: ’EITHER’, ‘NEITHER’, EACH’, ‘NONE’ and ‘ANY’ are singular pronouns; thus, they take singular verbs and singular possessive pronouns. But remember that a PLURAL noun follows them: 

Examples:

 

  • None of the shop have the cookies I want. (INCORRECT)
  • None of the shops has the cookies I want. (CORRECT)

 

  • Either of the men have forgotten their report here. (INCORRECT)
  • Either of the men has forgotten his report here. (CORRECT)

 

  • Each of the employees are responsible for this setback. (INCORRECT)
  • Each of the employees is responsible for this setback. (CORRECT)

RULE 7: Indefinite pronoun ‘ONE’ has its own possessive pronoun:

One’ should be used throughout the sentence if used at all. This means if the indefinite pronoun ‘one’ is the subject, every other personal pronoun is replaced with the counterpart of ‘one’. In possessive case, it is one’s. And the reflexive form is oneself.

Examples:

  • If one faces a failure, he should not stop but should try even harder. (INCORRECT)
  • If one faces a failure, one should not stop but should try even harder. (CORRECT)

 

  • One must always follow his (INCORRECT)
  • One must always follow one’s (CORRECT)

 

  • Lying to oneself is deceiving himself. (INCORRECT)
  • Lying to oneself is deceiving oneself. (CORRECT)

RULE 8: Pronoun ‘BOTH’ takes only ‘and’ as conjunction:

Example:

  • Both you as well as your sister are invited. (INCORRECT)
  • Both you and your sister are invited. (CORRECT)

 

  • The complaint letter has the names of both James along with his friend John. (INCORRECT)
  • The complaint letter has the names of both James and his friend John. (CORRECT)

RULE 9: Use of ‘SAME’ as a pronoun is incorrect:

Word ‘SAME’ should not be used as a pronoun. It is better to use ‘IT’ in such cases.

Examples:

  • I gifted her a book, and the same is very interesting. (INCORRECT)
  • I gifted her a book, and it is very interesting. (CORRECT)

 

  • They had a vintage Audi, and they sold the same last Monday. (INCORRECT)
  • They had a vintage Audi, and they sold it last Monday. (CORRECT)

RULE 10: Do not confuse between ‘WHO’ and ‘WHOM’. ‘WHO’ is used for nouns of subjective case while ‘WHOM’ is used for nouns of objective case:

While using ‘WHO’ and ‘WHOM’, check whether the noun they replace is subjective or objective.

Examples:

  • The teacher, who I met at the café, used to teach us history. (INCORRECT)
  • The teacher, whom I met at the café, used to teach us history. (CORRECT)

(here, ‘whom’ is used for ‘the teacher,’ who is the receiver of the verb ‘met’. Hence, ‘teacher’ is the object of the sentence.)

 

  • Sam, whom is my youngest brother, won the spell bee competition. (INCORRECT)
  • Sam, who is my youngest brother, won the spell bee competition. (CORRECT)

(here, ‘who’ is used for ‘Sam’, and he is the subject of this sentence.)

 

  • Who lives here?
  • Whom can we trust in this office?

RULE 11: Do not confuse between ‘ITS’ and ‘IT’S’:

‘Its’ is a personal pronoun of possessive case. It is used to show possession of a noun.

‘It’s’ is a contraction or shorter form of ‘It is’.

We often confuse between them and cause a blunder in the meaning.

Examples:

  • Its time to start working on our physical and mental health. (INCORRECT)
  • It’s time to start working on our physical and mental health. (CORRECT)
  • It is time to start working on our physical and mental health. (CORRECT)

 

  • She baked a chocolate cake, and it’s taste is delicious. (INCORRECT)
  • She baked a chocolate cake, and its taste is delicious. (CORRECT)

 

  • Wish him. Its his birthday today. (INCORRECT)
  • Wish him. It’s his birthday today. (CORRECT)
  • Wish him. It is his birthday today. (CORRECT)

RULE 12: ‘WHICH’ is used as an interrogative pronoun in case of selection between a fixed number of options:

‘Which’ can be used to interrogate about any noun. It is used in case of selection or choice from given options or from a limited range. It usually becomes quite clear from the context of the sentence that the speaker is providing limited options to select from.

Examples:

  • Which is your friend in the crowd?
  • Which is your book in the stack?
  • We have a wide variety of flavours, which would you like to try?
  • Which is your car?
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