Nouns are the words that describe people, places, things, and ideas. Most often, nouns fill the position of subject or object within a sentence. Nouns have several subcategories, including common nouns (chair, car, house), proper nouns (Julie, Montana), noncountable nouns (money, water), and countable nouns (dollars, cubes).
The subject of a sentence performs the action. The object in a sentence receives the action.
Pronouns replace nouns in a sentence or paragraph, allowing a writer to achieve a smooth flow throughout a text by avoiding unnecessary repetition. The unique aspect of the pronoun as a part of speech is that the list of pronouns is finite: while there are innumerable nouns in the English language, there are only a few pronouns. The most important ones follow:
Personal pronouns act as subjects or objects in a sentence.
She received a letter; I gave the letter to her.
Possessive pronouns indicate possession.
The apartment is hers, but the furniture is mine.
Reflexive or intensive pronouns intensify a noun or reflect back on a noun.
I made the dessert myself.
Personal, Possessive, and Reflexive Pronouns
he, she, it
him, her, it
his, hers, its
himself, herself, itself
Relative pronouns begin dependent clauses. Like other pronouns, they may appear in subject or object case, depending on the clause. Take, for example, the sentence below:
Charlie, who made the clocks, works in the basement.
Here, the relative pronoun who is substituting for Charlie; that word indicates that Charlie makes the clocks, and so who is in the subject case because it is performing the action (makes the clocks).
In cases where a person is the object of a relative clause, the writer would use the relative pronoun whom. For example, read the sentence below:
My father, whom I care for, is sick.
Even though my father is the subject of the sentence, in the relative clause the relative pronoun whom is the object of the preposition for. So whom appears in the object case.
When a relative clause refers to a non-human, that or which is used. (I live in Texas, which is a large state.) The relative pronoun whose indicates possession. (I don’t know whose car that is.)
Interrogative pronouns begin questions (Who worked last evening?). They request information about people, places, things, ideas, location, time, means, and purposes.
Who lives there?
To whom shall I send the letter?
What is your favorite color?
Where do you go to school?
When will we meet for dinner?
Which movie would you like to see?
Why are you going to be late?
How did you get here?
Demonstrative pronouns (this, that, these, those) point out or draw attention to something or someone. They can also indicate proximity or distance.
Indefinite pronouns simply replace nouns to avoid unnecessary repetition:
Several came to the party to see both.
Indefinite pronouns can be either singular or plural (and some can act as both depending on the context). If the indefinite pronoun is the subject of the sentence, it is important to know whether that pronoun is singular or plural so that the verb can agree with the pronoun in number.