ESL Pronoun Games

Instructor: Amanda Wiesner-Groff

Amanda has created and taught English/ESL curricula worldwide, has an M.Ed, and is the current ESOL Coordinator for the Saint Louis Public School District.

Games are always a great way to turn confusing English language rules into fun learning practice. This lesson will define the different types of pronouns, as well as offering up fun game ideas to use in the ESL classroom.

What Are Pronouns?

Pronouns are words used to replace one or more nouns within a sentence. They come in many forms and can be used in various ways. The vast amount of pronoun types and rules can be very overwhelming for ESL students, so it's wise to introduce each category separately. Games are a fun way to help ESL students practice their understanding of pronoun form and use. Before we jump ahead to pronoun games, let's first review the different types of pronouns used in the English language.

Types of Pronouns

Personal pronouns: used to take the place of common and proper nouns

  • I am walking.
  • They are driving.

Personal pronoun chart
Personal Pronoun Chart

Reflexive pronouns: used when referring back to the subject of the sentence

  • Are you listening to yourself?
  • He is studying by himself.

Reflexive pronoun chart
Reflexive Pronoun Chart

Relative pronouns: used to connect a clause or phrase to a noun or pronoun

  • My father is a person whom I respect very much.
  • My sister, who just turned 12, received a lot of presents.

Relative pronoun chart
Relative Pronoun Chart

Interrogative pronouns: used to ask questions

  • What is your favorite food?
  • Whose textbooks are these?

Interrogative pronoun chart
Interrogative Pronouns 1

Demonstrative: used to represent things both near and far away

  • Those are my friends.
  • This is your lunch.

Demonstrative pronoun chart
Demonstrative Pronoun Chart

Possessive pronouns: used to indicate ownership

  • These cookies are mine, not yours.
  • That is his new car.

Possessive pronoun chart
Possessive Pronoun Chart

Indefinite pronouns: used to refer to an unspecified person, place, or thing

  • Did anyone finish the test yet?
  • I would love to have another piece of cake.

Indefinite pronoun chart
Indefinite Pronoun Chart

Subject or object pronouns: Subject pronouns refer to the subject in a sentence. Object pronouns refer to the object in a sentence.

  • I will give them another test review.
  • Are you going with him?

Subject and object pronoun chart
Subject and Object Pronoun Chart

ESL Pronoun Games

Now that we've reviewed the different types of pronouns, let's look at some games to help students practice pronoun comprehension and acquisition skills in the ESL classroom.

Pronoun Think-Aloud

This is a two-team game that focuses on singular and plural pronouns, but it can be adapted to include any type of pronoun or pronoun category.

  1. Divide the class into two teams.
  2. Create a pile of flash cards with singular and plural pronouns written on them (they can be used more than once).
  3. With the flash cards face down, have students from each team take turns coming forward to turn over a card.
  4. After the card is turned over, the student must give a sentence using the singular or plural pronoun written on the card.
  5. Give 10-15 seconds, depending upon the proficiency level of the class.
  6. Every time a student states a sentence correctly, they earn one point for their team.
  7. At the end of the game (either when the cards run out or when the designated amount of time is up), the team with the most points wins.

Pronoun Shout Out

This game can be played using all types of pronouns, or use one pronoun category at a time for more concentrated practice.

  1. Choose a brief text to read aloud to the class, like an essay, news article, or short story.
  2. Divide the class into groups of 4-5 students.
  3. Tell students they are to shout out pronouns as they hear them in the text.
  4. Read slowly and purposefully, but do not pause unless a student identifies a pronoun.
  5. The first person to correctly identify a pronoun as it is read aloud gets a point for their team.
  6. At the end of the reading, the team with the most points wins.

Pronoun Jeopardy

This game is an ESL student favorite! It's just like the traditional game of Jeopardy, but the columns on the board will be divided according to pronoun categories. Write pronouns on flash cards, then, on the other side of the card write point values according to the difficulty of the pronoun. Using sticky tack or tape, secure the flash cards (point-side up) under their respective categories.

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