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TOEIC Grammar Guide – Pronouns


Pronouns take the place of nouns in sentences. Pronouns work in sentences the same way as nouns. Pronouns are used so that nouns are not repeated. A pronoun generally refers back to a noun that was written earlier. There are many different kinds of pronouns. Each kind has different forms and rules for when it is used.

Learning Hint:

Check whether the pronoun used in a sentence matches the noun or subject of the sentence.

Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns refer to a specific person or persons. The personal pronouns are I, you, he, she, it, we and they. Personal pronouns change form depending on their role in a sentence. The subjective case means the pronoun is used as the subject of a sentence or a clause. The subjective personal pronouns are I, he, she, you, it, we and they.


We are going to the meeting in the same car.

She is going to send the fax now.

The other cases are objective and possessive. Objective case means a pronoun usually is the object of the verb or a preposition in a sentence. Objective pronouns are me, him, her, us and them.


The metal chair gave him an electric shock.

Let us finalize the contract.

Frank took a phone message for her.

Note: When there is a linking verb in a sentence, the pronoun that follows it must be in the subjective, not objective, case. A common linking verb is any form of the verb be such as is, are, was and were.

Incorrect:           This is her speaking.

Correct:             This is she speaking.

The possessive case pronoun shows ownership. The possessive pronouns are my, mine, our, ours, his, her, hers, their, theirs.


My boss approves of my conducting of the interview.

Michael bumped his hip against the desk.

Note: Only the personal pronouns have these three cases. All other types of pronouns only have their regular (dictionary) form and a possessive case. The exception is the relative pronoun who. Whom is the objective case and whose is the possessive case.

Relative Pronouns

Relative pronouns are which, that, and who / whom. Relative pronouns relate groups of words to nouns or other pronouns.


The secretary gave three boxes to the mailman who entered the office.

That and which can only refer to things. Who and whom can only refer to people. Who is used as the subject of a sentence or a clause. Whom is always the object of a verb or prepositional phrase.


He doesn't know whom to assign to the project.

(Whom is the object of the verb to assign.)

Who will be assigned to the project has not been decided.

(Who is the subject of the verb will be assigned.)

Intensive Pronouns

Intensive pronouns add emphasis to a noun or another pronoun. The form of an intensive pronoun is a personal pronoun plus -self: himself, herself, myself, yourself, themselves, ourselves.


He himself made the coffee.

Reflexive Pronouns

Reflexive pronouns show that the sentence subject also receives the action of the verb in the sentence. Reflexive pronouns have the same form as intensive ones: a personal pronoun plus -self.


You might injure yourself.

Note: Objective or possessive pronouns are mistakenly used when a reflexive one is needed.

Incorrect:           Help you to whatever you need.

Correct:             Help yourself to whatever you need.

Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns function as nouns, but they do not replace a noun. Indefinite pronouns include everybody and some.


Everybody admires the companys president.

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns identify or point to nouns. Demonstrative pronouns include this, that and such.


This is the cup he used.

Interrogative Pronouns

Interrogative pronouns introduce questions. Interrogative pronouns include who, which and what.


Who will be making a speech tonight?

Pronoun Agreement with the Noun

One general rule for all pronouns is that a singular noun must be replaced with a singular pronoun. Also, a plural noun must be replaced with a plural pronoun.


I have to do a presentation tomorrow for my manager.

The employees want their afternoon break to start later.

Note: It is important to remember that any word with an every, like everybody, everyone, or everything is singular, not plural. Therefore, every type words need a singular pronoun like his or her, and not a plural one like their.

Incorrect:           Everybody needs to hand in their report to the manager.

Correct:             Everybody needs to hand in his report to the manager.

Another general rule is that the pronoun must have the same gender (feminine, masculine or neuter) as the noun it replaces.


Julie wants to upgrade her computer software.

The computer had new software installed on its hard drive.

TOEIC | Grammar: Pronouns Previous   Up   Next   

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