How & When to Use Pronouns

Instructor: T.J. Hoogsteen

T.J. is currently a grade 5 teacher and Vice-Principal. He has a master's degree in Educational Administration and is working toward an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership.

In this lesson you will learn about how and when to use pronouns. There will be a review of some common pronouns, and how they can help sentences sound less awkward and repetitive.

Pronouns and Knock-Knock Jokes

While walking down the street the other day, two old friends meet each other. One friend tells the other a joke:

Friend 1: Knock knock.

Friend 2: Who's there?

Friend 1: Banana.

Friend 2: Banana who?

Friend 1: Knock knock.

Friend 2: Who's there?

Friend 1: Banana.

Friend 2: Banana who?

Friend 1: Knock knock.

Friend 2: Who's there?

Friend 1: Orange.

Friend 2: Orange who?

Friend 1: Orange you glad I didn't say banana?

By the second time around, the friend listening to the joke is likely getting annoyed by hearing the word 'banana', so he's probably happy when he hears his friend say 'orange'. When writing or speaking, this is why we use pronouns, words that take the place of a noun. This helps us to avoid using the same word over and over again.

How to Use Pronouns

It may be a good idea to first list some common pronouns that are commonly used to replace nouns. They are: he, she, him, her, his, us, they, them, we, this, there, and that.

As mentioned, we use pronouns to avoid repeating the same word or words over and over again. Here is an example of where pronouns could have been used, but weren't:

Bill likes dogs. Bill has a dog named Max. Bill takes Max for a walk everyday. Bill feeds Max everyday. Bill loves Max.

As you read, it may get annoying to see 'Bill' and 'Max' repeated over and over again. After Bill and Max's names have been used once, it is okay to use pronouns to replace their names; the reader will know who the pronoun is referring to. Here is an example of what it might look like if pronouns were used in the last example:

Bill likes dogs. He has a dog named Max. They go for a walk everyday. Bill feeds him everyday. Bill loves his dog.

As you can see, the pronouns gave the writing enough of a change so it didn't get repetitive, but it didn't change so much that you couldn't tell who was being talked about.

Here is another example where pronouns aren't used:

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