Why Do We Use Pronouns?

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  • 0:03 What Is a Pronoun?
  • 0:49 Why Use Pronouns?
  • 2:25 When Should I Use a Pronoun?
  • 3:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Joelle Brummitt-Yale

Joelle has taught middle school Language Arts and college academic writing. She has a master's degree in education.

Pronouns are very useful words, especially when you're writing longer sentences. In this lesson, you will learn what a pronoun is, when pronouns are used in sentences, and why pronouns are important to use in writing.

What Is a Pronoun?

A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. What exactly does this mean? A noun is a word for a person, place, thing, or idea and is usually fairly specific. Some examples of nouns are: 'i'rl,' 'lion,' 'chair', and 'belief.' Notice that each of these words represents a living or inanimate object, and you can picture each of these words in your head.

A pronoun can be used to replace one of these nouns if you did not want to use the specific noun. For instance, 'she' is a pronoun that could be used to replace 'girl,' and 'it' is a pronoun that could be used to take the place of 'chair.' When a pronoun is used in place of a noun, it must match the number, point of view, and gender of the noun it is replacing.

Why Use Pronouns?

So, if nouns clearly represent the people, places, things, and ideas that they are used for, why would we want to replace them with pronouns?

Read aloud this sentence, and you'll begin to see why we use pronouns:

  • Marta and her sister are traveling to Marta and her sister's uncle's house for vacation, and Marta and her sister's uncle are going to cook Marta, her sister's, and her uncle's favorite dinner.

Did you catch all that, or were you confused and tongue-tied after repeating the same nouns over and over again?

Pronouns are useful in writing because they help make sentences smoother and clearer. Consider the same sentence when pronouns are used to replace the nouns once they have been introduced:

  • Marta and her sister are traveling to their uncle's house for vacation, and he is going to cook their favorite dinner.

This is much easier to read.

Pronouns are also useful for expressing ideas about ourselves without having to use our own names. Imagine that Marta, the character from our previous sentence, is writing an email to her friend telling that friend about her upcoming trip. If Marta could not use a pronoun to refer to herself, she would write sentences like this:

  • Marta is going to see her uncle this weekend. Marta is very excited.

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