Pronoun References: Definition, Types, Examples, Exercises

Overview: In this post you will learn -
Lesson 1: Pronoun References
Lesson 2: Types of Pronouns
Pronoun References


After the completion of this article/post, you would be able to

• expalin what pronoun and pronoun reference are.

• explain different types of pronouns.

• understand the use of pronoun references.

• produce sentences using appropriate pronoun references.

Answer Key

Lesson 1: Pronoun References

A pronoun is a word that commonly takes the place of a noun or noun phrase. 

Look at the following examples:

Shakib thought that he had lost the dog, but it had followed him.

He and him take the place of Shakib, a noun; it takes the place of the dog, a noun phrase.

Pronouns thus eliminate the need for awkward repetition.

Pronoun is also called pronoun reference because it refers to the other word or word group which is known as antecedent. Antecedent means ‘going before’, and this term is used because the antecedent usually goes before the pronoun that refers to it:

The old man smiled as he listened to the marching band.

In the example, the antecedent of the pronoun he is the old man as he refers to the old man. The antecedent sometimes follows the pronoun that refers to it:

By the time he was eight, Rabindranath wrote a book of poems.

Lesson 2: Types of Pronouns

There are eight categories of pronouns. They are as follows:

1. Personal pronoun

    1. Demonstrative pronoun

    1. Indefinite pronoun

    1. Distributive pronoun

    1. Relative pronoun

    1. Reflexive pronoun and emphatic pronoun

    1. Interrogative pronoun

    1. Reciprocal pronoun

  1. Personal Pronouns:

I, we, you, he, she, it, they are called Personal Pronoun because they stand for the three persons, (i) the person speaking (ii) the person spoken to, and (iii) the person spoken of.

The Pronouns I and we, which denote the person or persons speaking, are said to be Personal Pronouns of the First Person. For example -

We have a nice garden in front of our house. I have planted some new plants in the garden.

The Pronoun you, which denotes the person or persons spoken to, is said to be a Personal Pronoun of the Second Person. ‘You’ is used both in singular and plural.

You are one of the important members of the committee.

The pronouns he (she) and they, which denote the person or person spoken of, are said to be Personal Pronouns of the Third Person.

Case Forms of Pronouns

Personal Pronouns

Personal Pronouns








Subjective Case








Objective Case








Possessive Case





Our, ours

















Exercise 01:

In the following sentences, point out the Pronouns and say for what each stands –

  1. There were doors all round the hall, but they were all locked.

  1. Alice opened the door and found that it led into a small passage.

  1. Harry brought his book and laid it on the table.

  1. Kamal has lost his dog and cannot find it.

  1. The camel is a beast of burden. It is used to carry goods across the desert.

  1. The female lion is called a lioness. She has no mane.

  1. Birds build their nests in trees.

  1. We should train up a child in the way he should go.

  1. Shakib stood first in his class and got gold medal for his success.

  1. Father said to his son that he was a lazy boy.

  1. Demonstrative Pronouns

The Pronouns which are used to point out the objects to which they refer are called Demonstrative Pronouns. Consider the following examples –

This is our college.

These are my books and those are yours.

Both cars are good; but this is better than that. I want the same. Give me the new ones.

  1. Indefinite Pronouns

An Indefinite Pronoun stands for persons or things, in general. Consider the following examples –

One hardly knows what to do.

One must not boast of one’s own success.

One must use one’s best efforts if one wishes to succeed.

None of his plans worked well.

None but fools have ever believed it.

All are nonsense.

Some are born great.

Somebody has stolen my watch.

Nobody was there to rescue the child.

Few escaped unhurt.

Many of them were laughing.

Any of them can do it.

All these Pronouns in italics refer to persons or things in general way, but do not refer to any person or thing in particular. They are, therefore, called Indefinite Pronoun.

  1. Distributive Pronouns

A Distributive Pronoun separates one person or thing from a number of persons or things. Consider the following examples –

Each of the boys gets a prize. Each took it in turn.

Either of these roads leads to the railway station. Either of you can go.

Neither of the accusations is true.

Each, either, neither are called Distributive Pronouns because they refer to persons or things one at a time. For this reason they are always singular and as such followed by the verb in the singular.

  1. Relative Pronouns

A Relative Pronoun refers or relates to some noun going before it, which is called its Antecedent.

Everybody hates a man who is a liar.

I have found the pen which I had lost.

I want the book that you borrowed from me.

This is the man who came yesterday.

I live in a village which is beautiful.

I know that house that he lives in.

In these sentences who, which, that, which are relative pronouns because they refer to the noun going before.

Exercise 02:

Join the following pair of sentences by using relative pronouns:

  1. He bought a house. The house is made of wood and bamboo.

  1. The boy came here. He is my brother.

  1. The pen writes well. My father gave me the pen.

  1. I saw some boys. They were playing in the field.

  1. He visited the place. Your uncle lives in that place.

  1. Bangladesh is a small country. There are a lot of fertile land here.

Exercise 03:

Fill the blanks with suitable Relative Pronouns:

  1. We always like boys _______ speak the truth.

    1. We saw the dog ________ worried the cat.

    1. She has gone to London, __________ is her birthplace.

    1. I have seen the bird _______ you describe.

    1. I do not know the man _______ hit the boy.

    1. Here is the pen _______ you lost.

    1. Time _______ is lost is never found again.

    1. Where is the book _______ I gave you?

    1. Is this the street _______ leads to the station?

    1. Do the same ______ I do.

  1. Reflexive and Emphatic Pronouns

When –self is added to my, your, him, her, it, and –selves to our, your, them, they turn into myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves, and are called Reflexive Pronouns or Emphatic Pronouns. Reflexive pronouns reflect the action of the verb back at the subject. Consider the following examples –

I hurt myself.

They took themselves to lunch.

He killed himself.

We often deceive ourselves.

She hanged herself.

The dog hurt itself.

It will be noticed that the Pronouns in italics are called Reflexive Pronouns because the action done by the subject turns back upon the subject.

Emphatic Pronouns: when Pronouns are used to put emphasis, they are called Emphatic Pronouns. Consider the examples below –

I will do it myself.

I myself saw him do it.

You yourself are responsible for that.

It is told by the teacher himself.

The school itself is a beautiful place.

They themselves admitted their guilt.

Here the Pronouns in italics are called Emphatic Pronouns because they are used for the sake of emphasis.

  1. Interrogative Pronouns

Interrogative Pronouns are similar in form to Relative but the work which they do is different. They are used to ask questions. Consider the following examples –

Who do you want?

Whom do you want?

Which do you prefer, tea or coffee?

What is the matter?

What do you want?

Here the pronouns in italics are used to ask questions. Thus, they are Interrogative Pronouns.

  1. Reciprocal Pronouns

When Pronouns are used to indicate two or more than two persons, they are called Reciprocal Pronouns. Reciprocal Pronouns establish a kind of give and take relationship between the persons. Consider the following examples –

We should help one another to live in peace.

When we work together we should help each other.

Here one another is used to indicate more than two persons and each other is used to indicate two persons.

Answer Key

Exercise 01:

  1. ‘they’, ‘they’ stands for ‘doors’

  1. ‘it’, ‘it’ stands for ‘door’

  1. ‘his’, it. ‘his’ stands for ‘Harry’ and ‘it’ stands for ‘book’

  1. ‘his’, ‘it’. ‘his’ stands for ‘Kamal’ and ‘it’ stands for ‘dog’

  1. ‘It’, ‘It’ stands for ‘The Camel’

  1. ‘She’, ‘She’ stands for ‘The female lion’

  1. ‘their’, ‘their’ stands for ‘Birds’

  1. ‘We’ and ‘he’. ‘We’ stands for ourselves and ‘he’ stands for ‘a child’

  1. ‘his’, ‘his’ stands for ‘Shakib’

  1. ‘his’ and ‘he’. ‘his’ stands for ‘Father’ and ‘he’ stands for ‘son’

Exercise 02:

  1. He bought a house which is made of wood and bamboo.

  2. The boy who came here is my brother.

  1. The pen writes well which was given to me by my father.

  1. I saw some boys who were playing in the field.

  1. He visited the place where your uncle lives.

  1. Bangladesh is a small country where there are a lot of fertile lands.

Exercise 03:

  1. (a) who (b) which/that (c) which (d) which/ that (e) who (f) which (g) which/that (h) which/ that (i) which/that (j) what
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