Pronoun Pandemonium: Part 2


Welcome to the second half of everything you need to know about pronouns!

Last time, we looked at what pronouns do, as well as their four properties (case, number, gender, and person). Today we’re going to talk about the six classes of pronouns, which are as follows: personal, demonstrative, interrogative, relative, indefinite and adjective.

Personal pronouns are used to refer to a particular person or thing, and include: I. me, you, he, him, she, her, it, we, us, they and them. Most of us know these and use them intuitively.

  • I saw a UFO; you heard a strange noise; she was an alien; we ran away in fear.
  • Give me your camera so I can take a picture of their spaceship.

Demonstrative pronouns are used to directly indicate the thing to which they refer. If singular, we use this and that; if plural, we use these and those. For example:

  • This alien comes in peace.
  • Those aliens do not.

As you may have guessed, an interrogative pronoun asks a question about a person or thing. There are three interrogative pronouns and they are: who, what, and which. (Who is a bit special because it has three forms—who, whom, and whose. Check out this post for more information on who vs. whom.)

When talking about a person, you can use who or which. Who is universal, as it can refer to anyone. Which, on the other hand, is limited. It refers to a specific person in a group. Check out these examples:

  • Who left all this weird acidic goo lying around?
  • Which member of the crew do you think will die first?

A relative pronoun presents a dependent clause and connects it to its independent clause. Relative pronouns include: who, which, what, and that. When used as a relative pronoun, who typically indicates a person; which indicates an animal or thing,; what indicates a nonliving thing; and that can indicate a person, animal, or thing.

  • How do we remove the thing that is stuck to his face?
  • The thing, which is called a face-hugger, cannot be removed safely.

An indefinite pronoun indicates something that has either been identified or something that doesn’t require identification. Indefinite pronouns include words such as any, both, each, neither, none, one, everybody, nobody, and someone.

  • Someone toss Ripley a flamethrower.

Pronouns that function as modifiers are known as adjective pronouns. An adjectival pronoun tells us something about the noun that it modifies. All pronouns, except non-possessive personal pronouns and the pronouns who and none, can act as adjective. For example:

  • Some aliens are actually nice. This type of alien is not.


Image credit: H.R. Giger’s alien / deviantART

6 thoughts on “Pronoun Pandemonium: Part 2

  1. How do we remove the goo – my gosh – your examples always make me laugh. Reason enough to read your posts. The bonus is I learn things, too.

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