Look at this picture, and write a sentence or two about what is going on here:
What kind of sentence did you get? More than likely one of your sentences used the word ‘he’. Maybe you said something like “ The boy is studying for school. He looks tired.”
In a sentence like this you have used a pronoun. “He” is a pronoun.
Pronouns are words that replace nouns- people, places, and things- in your writing.
Common pronouns include words such as: I, me, my, he, she, we, us, them, they, and it.
A pronoun must agree with the word it refers to (this referred to word is called its "antecedent").
Here, “student” is the noun and “he” is the pronoun that replaces it.
They make reading easier by keeping sentences shorter, so we do not end up with sentences like this:
By using pronouns, we can make these sentences much clearer and much easier to read:
A pronoun must agree with its antecedent, which is the word that the pronoun is referring to. If a pronoun refers to a singular noun then the pronoun must also be singular, and vice versa for plural.
Here you have a plural noun because you are referring to two people (Susan and Alan), so the pronoun that takes the place of the names needs to be plural too.
When the nouns are joined by the word or, you may need to use a singular or plural pronoun. If both nouns are singular, then use a singular pronoun. If both nouns are plural, then use a plural pronoun.
When the word “and” is used to join two nouns together in a sentence then you will use the plural form for the pronoun. Because you have more than one of something it will be plural and not singular.
Most pronouns refer to a specific person, place, or thing. When you talk about people or things whose identity is not known or when that is not important you can use indefinite pronouns. Some common singular and plural indefinite pronouns include:
Singular: each, nobody, someone, other, everybody, anything, everything, one, and another.
Plural: both, few, many, others, and several.
Singular or Plural: any, some, half, more, most, and none.
When using indefinite forms of pronouns (e.g. "each", "nobody", "someone", "everyone", "anyone"...), we generally refer to the subject in this sentence as "he or she", or "his or hers", because we are not specifically referring to either male or female.
Thus, when the sex of the individual being discussed is not clear, we must refer to both male and female
In this sentence, we do not know if we are talking specifically about males or females, so it is an indefinite pronoun. If we were to add to this sentence we would have to mention both genders, like this:
In this example the subject of the sentence isn't specifically male or female, so we refer to both by saying "his or her". Remember to use whatever pronoun set that fits the sentence!