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What Are Singular Pronouns? - Definition & Examples

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 singular pronouns. You will learn why they are used, and how they are used. Examples of sentences with and without pronouns will be used.

What Are Singular Pronouns?

Bill went to New York. When Bill went to New York, Bill went to Central Park. Then Bill went to Yankee Stadium. Bill went to a lot of interesting places when Bill went to New York.

What word or two really stuck out to you when reading that opening passage? Was it Bill? Or New York? Maybe it was both. These words likely stuck out because they were repeated over and over again. When writing, we are often taught not to use words over and over again because it will bore the reader. If that is the case, how can it be avoided?

One way, and it would have worked in the above example, is to use pronouns (a word that takes place of a noun). Some common pronouns are:

  • He
  • She
  • Him
  • There
  • Her
  • It
  • They

Though the purpose of this lesson is to teach about the use of pronouns, it is a specific type that this lesson will focus on: singular pronouns, or pronouns that refer to a singular noun.

Singular Nouns

Before this lesson goes any further, let's clarify what a singular noun is. A singular noun is a noun that refers to a single person, place, or thing. A few examples would include Bill, New York City, dog, cat, muffin, pen, etc. As mentioned, a singular pronoun takes the place of a singular noun. For example, instead of using Bill over and over again, it may be replaced with 'he' or 'him.'

Here is an example of what the opening passage could have been like if pronouns (singular pronouns to be specific) were used instead of Bill and New York City over and over:

Bill went to New York. When Bill went there, he went to Central Park. Then he went to Yankee Stadium. Bill went to a lot of interesting places when he went to New York.

Even though these four sentences are not the most exciting pieces of writing, the pronouns that were used changed them and gave the writing enough variation that isn't completely boring.

Examples

In this section, an example with no pronouns will be given, then the same passage will follow but with pronouns.

  • Bob likes Stan. Stan is Bob's dog. Bob likes to take Stan for walks. Bob also likes to brush Stan.
    • Bob likes his dog. Bob's dog is named Stan. He likes to take Stan for walks. He also likes to brush him.

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