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Pronoun

A pronoun is a word that can be used to replace a noun.


Example:
Marcel is tall enough, but he is not as fast as Jodie.
(The word "he" is a pronoun. It replaces "Marcel".)
The example above is quite simple, i.e., it is quite easy to see how "he" replaces "Marcel". However, many
words that are classified as pronouns take a bit more effort to understand why they replace nouns. There
are several types of pronouns:
Demonstrative pronouns (this, that, these, and those)
Indefinite pronouns (The most common ones are: all, any, anyone, anything, and each.)
Interrogative pronouns (who, when, why, what, which, and whom)
Personal pronouns (I, you, he, she, it, we, they, and who)
Possessive pronouns (my, your, his, her, its, our, their, and whose)
Reciprocal pronouns (The most common ones are: "each other" and "one another")
Relative pronouns (The most common ones are: who, whom, that, which, where, and when)
Reflexive pronouns (The most common ones are: myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves,
yourselves, and themselves)

What Are Possessive Pronouns?


Possessive pronouns show ownership. The term possessive pronoun covers possessive adjectives and
absolute possessive pronouns.
The possessive pronouns are:
Possessive Adjectives
my
Absolute Possessive Pronouns
your
mine
his
yours
her
his
its
hers
our
ours
their
theirs
whose
Possessive Pronouns Replace Nouns
Possessive pronouns are used to indicate who (or what) owns something. Like all pronouns, possessive
pronouns take the place of nouns in sentences.
Look at these examples:
Take Sarah's car to the party.
Take her car to the party.
(In this example, the possessive adjective her replaces Sarah.)
Take hers to the party.
(In this example, the absolute possessive pronoun hers replaces Sarah's car.)
Examples of Possessive Pronouns
Below are examples of possessive pronouns. (There is a mix of possessive adjectives and absolute
possessive pronouns.)
Take her spoon and put it by your plate.
(These are both possessive adjectives.)
His view is that it's come to the end of its working life.
(These are both possessive adjectives.)
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined. (Samuel Goldwyn, 18821974)

(This is a possessive adjective.)


Humans are the only animals that have children on purpose with the exception of guppies, who like
to eat theirs. (P J O'Rourke)
(This is an absolute possessive pronoun.)
We cherish our friends not for their ability to amuse us, but for ours to amuse them. (Evelyn Waugh,
1903-1966)
(our and their = possessive adjectives / ours = absolute possessive pronoun)

What Are Personal Pronouns? (with Examples)


Personal pronouns represent people or things. The personal pronouns are:
I
you
he
she
it
we
they
Subjective Personal Pronouns
The list above shows the subjective personal pronouns. These are the versions used for the subjects of
verbs. For example:
You are happy.
They won the league.
Objective Personal Pronouns
The objective personal pronouns are me, you, him, her, it, us, and them.
These are the versions used when the personal pronouns are objects (like direct objects, indirect objects,
and objects of prepositions). For example:
Paul knows her.
(The personal pronoun is a direct object.)
Paul gave them the letter.
(The personal pronoun is an indirect object.)
Paul went with him.
(The personal pronoun is an object of a preposition.)
Choosing Personal Pronouns
Native English speakers rarely make mistakes when selecting which personal pronoun to use. However,
whether we know it or not, we all select a personal pronoun having first determined its:
Number
Is the personal pronoun representing something singular or plural?
Person
Is the personal pronoun representing something:
In the first person? (This is the speaker himself or a group that includes the speaker, i.e., I, me, we,
and us.)
In the second person? (This is the speaker's audience, i.e., you.)
In the third person? (This is everybody else, i.e., he, she,it, they.)
Gender
Is the personal pronoun representing something male, female, or neuter?
Case
Is the personal pronoun representing something which is a subject or an object?
The Personal Pronouns and Their Possessive Versions
The table below shows the subjective personal pronouns and the objective personal pronouns. For
completeness, it also shows the associated possessive adjectives and absolute possessive pronouns.
Subjective
Objective
Possessive Case
Possessive Case
Person
Case
Case
Possessive Adjective Absolute Possessive Pronouns
First Person Singular
I
me
my
mine

Second Person Singular


Third Person Singular
First Person Plural
Second Person Plural
Third Person Plural
Misplaced Modifier

you
he/she/it
we
you
they

you
him/her/it
us
you
them

your
his/her/its
our
your
their

yours
his/hers/its
ours
yours
theirs

A misplaced modifier is a word, phrase, clause that does not clearly relate to what it is intended to modify.
In other words, a misplaced modifier makes the meaning of a sentence ambiguous or wrong.
Examples of Misplaced Modifiers
Here are some examples of misplaced modifiers (shaded):
Andrew told us after the holiday that he intends to stop drinking.
(In this example, it is not clear whether Andrew made this statement after the holiday or whether
he intends to stop drinking after the holiday.)
Running quickly improves your health.
(In this example, it is not clear if running modifies running or improves.)
We will not sell paraffin to anyone in glass bottles.
(Often, like in this example, common sense tells us what the writer meant. Clearly, this is about
paraffin in glass bottles not people in glass bottles. However, placing your modifier too far away
from the thing being modified will do little to showcase your writing skills.)
Misplaced Modifiers Can Change the Meaning
Sometimes, a misplaced modifier is not a mistake. It just leads to an unintended meaning. Look at these
sentences:
He lost nearly $5,000 in Las Vegas.
(This means he lost just under $5,000.)
He nearly lost $5,000 in Las Vegas.
(Here, we don't know how much he lost. He might have lost nothing at all.)
These examples demonstrate that a modifier needs to be near whatever it's modifying.
How to Avoid a Misplaced Modifier
You can avoid a misplaced modifier by placing your modifier alongside whatever it's modifying. For
example:
Jack can hear Jill when she whispers clearly.
(As the intended meaning is that Jack can clearly hear Jill's whispers, this is a misplaced modifier. It
can be corrected by moving the modifier next to the word it is meant to modify.)
Here is a correct version for the intended meaning:
Jack can clearly hear Jill when she whispers.
If the meaning were Jack can hear Jill's clear whispers, then the first version would be correct:
Jack can hear Jill when she whispers clearly.
Probably the most famous example of a misplaced modifier is not a misplaced modifier at all. Look at this
well-known joke by Groucho Marx:
One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll never know.
(Groucho Marx)
This is not a misplaced modifier because the elephant was actually in his pyjamas.
Types of Misplaced Modifiers
There are three types of misplaced modifiers:
(1) Those that modify the wrong thing.
He only eats ice-cream.
He eats only ice-cream.
These are the classic misplaced modifiers. This error occurs quite often with the word only.
Read more about misplacing limiting modifiers (e.g., only).
(2) Those that could feasibly modify either of two things in the sentence.
Talking quickly annoys people.
These are more commonly called squinting modifiers.
(3) Those that modify nothing.
Having read your letter, my dog will be taken to the vet for a test.

Having read your letter, I will take my dog to the vet for a test.
These are more commonly called dangling modifiers.

Squinting Modifier
A squinting modifier is one that could modify either the word(s) before it or after it (i.e., it is ambiguously
positioned in the sentence.) It is a "misplaced modifier."
Examples:
Cycling up hills quickly strengthens your quadriceps.
(In this example, the word "quickly" is a squinting modifier. It is not clear whether "quickly" pertains to
"Cycling up hills" or "strengthens".)
"He was a hero at his last police station. He once shot a robber with a Kalashnikov." "Great, where did he
get that?" "No, the robber had the Kalashnikov."
(In this example, the phrase"with a Kalashnikov" (a type of assault rifle) is a squinting modifier. It is not
clear whether it pertains to "he " or "the robber.") (This is taken from the film "Hot Fuzz.")
Taking a moment to think clearly improves your chances

What Is a Dangling Modifier? (with Examples)


A dangling modifier is a modifier that has nothing to modify. Remember, modifiers describe a word or
make its meaning more specific. A dangling modifier is an error caused by failing to use the word that the
modifier is meant to be describing.
Examples of Dangling Modifiers
Here is an example of a dangling modifier (shaded):
Having read your letter, my cat will stay indoors until the ducklings fly off.
In this example, the missing word is we. A correct version would be:
Having read your letter, we will keep our cat indoors until the ducklings fly off.
(In this example, the modifier Having read your letter is modifying we as it should.)
Logically, the wrong example suggests the cat read the letter.
Here is another example of a dangling modifier (shaded):
Meticulous and punctual, David's work ethic is admirable.
In this example, the missing word is David (as a standalone subject). A correct version would be:
Meticulous and punctual, David has an admirable work ethic.
(In this example, the modifier Meticulous and punctual is modifying David as it should, not David's
work ethic.)
Logically, the wrong example suggests David's work ethic is meticulous and punctual.
Here is another example of a dangling modifier (shaded):
Having seen Blackpool Tower, the Eiffel Tower is more impressive.
In this example, the missing word is she. A correct version would be:
Having seen Blackpool Tower, she thinks the Eiffel Tower is more impressive.
(In this example, the modifier Having seen Blackpool Tower is modifying she as it should, not the
Eiffel Tower .)
Logically, the wrong example suggests the Eiffel Tower saw the Blackpool Tower.
A Dangling Modifier As a Misplaced Modifier
Sometimes, a modifier can dangle a bit. This happens when the word being modified is present but is not
next to its modifier. Look at this example:

Vicious smelly creatures with huge tusks, the ship's crew found it difficult to drive the male
walruses from the beach.
This is still a dangling modifier, but it's not dangling fully because the thing being modified (the male
walruses) is present. This is better known as a misplaced modifier.
This is a correct version:
Vicious smelly creatures with huge tusks, the male walruses were difficult for the ship's crew to
drive from the beach.

What Are Modifiers? (with Examples)

A modifier is a word, phrase, or clause which functions as an adjective or an adverb to describe a word or
make its meaning more specific.
Examples of Modifiers
Modifiers can play the roles of adjectives or adverbs.
Modifiers As Adjectives
When a modifier is an adjective, it modifies a noun or a pronoun. (In these examples, the modifiers are
shaded, and the words being modified are bold).
Lee caught a small mackerel.
(Here, the adjective small modifies the noun mackerel.)
Lee caught a small mackerel.
(Don't forget that articles (i.e., the, an, and a) are adjectives too. Here, a modifies the noun
mackerel as does small.)
Lee caught another one.
(Here, the adjective another modifies the pronoun one.)
Modifiers As Adverbs
When a modifier is an adverb, it modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. For example:
Lee accidentally caught a small whelk.
(Here, the adverb accidentally modifies the verb caught.)
Lee caught an incredibly small mackerel.
(Here, the adverb incredibly modifies the adjective small.)
Lee supposedly accidentally caught a small whelk.
(Here, the adverb supposedly modifies the adverb accidentally.)
A Modifier Can Be a Phrase or a Clause
Don't forget that phrases and clauses can play the roles of adjectives and adverbs too. For example:
Lee caught a mackerel smaller than a Mars bar.
(This is an adjective phrase modifying the noun mackerel.)
Lee caught a mackerel of tiny proportions.
(This is a prepositional phrase functioning as an adjective. It modifies the noun mackerel.)
Lee caught a mackerel which was smaller than a Mars bar.
(This is an adjective clause modifying mackerel.)
When alone, Lee tried to catch mackerel.
(This is an adverbial phrase (of time) modifying the verb tried.)
When we left him alone, Lee set up his rod to catch mackerel.

(This is an adverbial clause (of time) modifying the verb set up.)
As shown by these examples, a modifier can come before whatever it modifies (called a premodifier) or
afterwards (called a postmodifier).