Singular Pronouns

Login to rate activities and track progress.
Login to rate activities and track progress.

Singular Pronouns

Before we talk about singular pronouns, we need to review exactly what a pronoun is.

A pronoun is a word used to replace a noun. In general, nouns are people, places, things, and ideas. A pronoun can be used in place of a noun in a sentence, so, to check if you’re right, you should be able to put in the concrete noun where the pronoun is in your sentence.

Pronouns help not to be redundant, repeating ourselves when we talk. For example, if there were no pronouns, we would have to speak like this:

     Drew loved Drew’s new toy that Drew got for Drew’s birthday.

Instead, we can use pronouns!

     Drew loved his new toy that he got for his birthday.

What is a Singular Pronoun?

A singular pronoun is a pronoun that replaces a singular noun. Single pronouns take the place of a single noun within a sentence.

The noun that the pronoun replaces is called the antecedent. When using pronouns, it’s important that the pronoun used agrees with the subject. So, if you refer to a singular noun, you must use a singular pronoun.

     Cherie baked cupcakes for her class.

     Cherie is the noun, and the singular possessive pronoun her refers to Cherie.

There are three different types of Singular Pronouns:

1. First-Person Singular Pronouns - I, me, & myself

1st-person Singular Pronouns are used to talk about yourself in a sentence.

     I walk to school.

     It is a long walk for me.

     I usually walk by myself.

The key to acing 1st-person pronouns is understanding sentence structure. Every sentence has two parts - a subject and a predicate. A predicate is either a verb or a verb and an object.

You use “I” as the subject, and me in the predicate. If you are both the subject and the object, then you’ll change it to myself.

2. Second-Person Singular Pronouns - you & yourself

When you talk to another person or you’re addressing a group of people as a whole, you use the 2nd-person singular pronoun you or yourself.

     You ate dinner.

     You made dinner for yourself.

3. Third-Person Singular Pronouns - he, she, & it

3rd-person singular pronouns are used in place of other people. You usually replace a person’s name with a 3rd-person singular pronoun.

     Sam left his book at school.

     He was in a hurry to get to his saxophone lesson.

     I picked it up for him and brought it to him.

Are there other types of singular pronouns?

Every specific type of pronoun has its own form of singular pronoun. It’s important to know how you’re using a pronoun. Remember, they always replace a noun, but have different purposes.

The following chart shows singular pronouns per type of pronoun.

SubjectI, you, he, she, it, they*
Objectme, you, him, her, it, them*
Possessivemy, mine, your, yours, his, hers, its, their*
Interrogativewho, whom, whose, what, which
Indefiniteanother, each, everything, nobody, either, someone
Relativewho, whom, whose, that, which
Reflexive/Intensivemyself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, themselves
Demonstrativethis, that

How do you use singular pronouns?

When using singular pronouns, you need to be sure that they agree with the noun they represent. The noun MUST be singular in order to use a singular pronoun.

For example,
      I wanted to eat my chocolate bar. CORRECT
      I wanted to eat mine chocolate bar. INCORRECT

If you’re a native speaker, it might be easy for you to make the pronoun and antecedent agree because it sounds funny when you use the wrong one. It is still a concept that must be watched in writing, especially when there are lots of words in between the noun and the pronoun.

Here is a chart to show you how the singular pronouns we listed above agree with singular nouns when referring to people:


TYPE OF PRONOUN 1st Person 2nd Person 3rd Person
SubjectIyouhe, she, it, they*
Objectmeyouhim, her, it, them*
Possessivemyyourhis, hers, its, theirs*
Interrogativewho, whom, whosewho, whom, whosewho, whom, whose
Reflexive/Intensivemyselfyourselfhimself, herself, itself, themselves*

Here are some examples that show the pronoun referring to and agreeing with the antecedent.

      - When I went to the movies, I got a large popcorn for myself.

      - The cat jumped up on the cabinets where its owner couldn’t reach it.

      - My aunt wrote me a letter in beautiful flowing cursive with her new ink pen.

      - The book was a gift for my dear friend whom I had not seen since last year.

Sometimes you can have multiple instances of singular pronouns in one sentence, so stay on top of your pronoun-antecedent agreement!

      - When I went shopping with Shani, she wasn’t sure which purse to buy, so I told her that I like this.

      - In the above example, the singular pronouns she and her refer to Shani.

      - I refers to me.

      - This refers to the singular purse that I preferred.

As long as you can match the noun with its matching pronoun, you’re good to go!

Tricky Situations

Sometimes in English there are some tricky situations you need to watch out for. There are several for singular pronouns.

#1 - Groups can sometimes be single. When the subject refers to a group or people or things, it is singular. Don’t get confused by the other words.

     The herd of goats wandered into Farmer Brown’s field, where it grazed for the evening.

     Herd is a single group of multiple sheep in this sentence. It’s tempting to use they as the pronoun, but it isn’t actually referring to the subject - the herd.

     The blue team won its first game. The girls were so excited that they won.

     Even though the team is made up of a group of girls, the subject is the team, which is singular. You use the singular possessive pronoun its to replace it.

#2 - Sometimes when your subject includes more than one noun - a compound subject - you’ll need to use a singular pronoun.

This happens often when the sentence focuses on the singular aspect of the noun.

     Neither the dog nor the cat wanted to drink from its bowl.

Even though we mention both the dog and the cat, the sentence is referring to them in a singular way. Both the dog and the cat have their own singular bowl. You can think of it like this:

     The dog didn’t want to drink from its bowl.

     The cat didn’t want to drink from its bowl.

If we were to say their bowl, that tells us that they share a water bowl. It is their bowl.

#3 - Some indefinite pronouns are ALWAYS singular. It’s a good idea to memorize this list.

no oneanythingsomebodyone

     Everyone had his own basketball.

     Something made her jump, but it wasn’t me!

     Each of the 16 cats had its own personality.

Similar Games