Possessive Adjective
Possessive Pronoun



3. (Male)
3. (Female)
3. (Neuter)




The vagaries of the third person singular pronoun

Subject. Use the subject form of the pronoun when the pronoun is the subject of an independent clause, a dependent clause, a relative clause, or noun clause.

[independent clause] I gave the message to Mario.

[dependent clause] When I get over this cold, Tina is going to take me on the train to Stockton.

[relative clause] The waitress found the bill that we had lost in the napkin dispenser.

[noun clause] Matsuko quickly realized that he was the only person eating peanut butter without milk.

Object. Use the object form of the pronoun when the pronoun is:

1) the object of a verb

Goran offered me his most trusted pair of underwear.

2) the object of a preposition

Leilani could tell that none of us wanted to play croquet on the roof.

3) the object of a gerund or infinitive

Hearing them above us on the balcony made us eager to stuff our clothes with old socks.

4) when the pronoun comes immediately before an infinitive

Jane ordered us to pretend we had been playing doctor although we had been playing mathematician.

Possessive Adjective. Use the possessive form to

1) indicate ownership

Hey, dude, that's my dog's favorite TV show.

2) before a gerund phrase— an (-ing) word that introduces a phrase which is acting as a noun

Joan hoped that her having to go to bed early would not disappoint Santa's young nephew.

Possesive Pronoun.Use the possessive pronoun after the verb "to be" in order to indicate ownership.

That virus you've been spreading is mine.

Reflexive.Use the reflexive pronoun when it refers back to an earlier noun or pronoun (usually the subject) that is the same person as the reflexive. The reflexive pronoun "reflects" back the mirror image of the earlier noun or pronoun.

[singular] Jerry tried to bite himself in order to prove that he was still a man.

[plural] They insisted on thrashing themselves with wet wooden spoons.

Antecedents. Most all pronouns must have a clear and readily identifiable antecedent. The antecedent is the noun preceding the pronoun to which the following pronoun refers. For example:

The old man smiled as he listened to the marching band. Its spirited playing made him feel young again.

In this sentence "he" refers back to old man. "Its" refers back to the marching band, and "him" refers back to old man again.

[Note: I and you also use no antecedents because these are are understood to refer to the writer and the reader respectively].

Indefinite Pronouns. Certain pronouns such as everybody, one, no one, each, many and some have no antecedent because they refer to no one in particular; therefore, they are referred to as indefinite pronouns.

Singular indefinite anybody, anyone, anything, each, everybody, everyone, everything, either, neither, nobody, no one, nothing, one, another, somebody, someone, something, whatever, whichever, whoever
Plural indefinite both, few, others, several
Sometimes singular or plural all, any, many, most, some

It is generally regarded that a pronoun which occurs late in the sentence and has an indefinite pronoun as its antecedent should reflect whether the indefinite pronoun is singular or plural. For example:

Everybody who is wearing his/her hat over his/her nose should have his/her nostrils examined for lice.

[Note: Gender neutrality need not always be observed for the purposes of euphony.]

Problems With Number. Some antecedents can be hard to classify as singular or plural.

1. Two or more nouns joined by "and" are usually plural.

Josie and Lewis are old friends from the barber college who know their way around a mop of hair.

2. Two nouns joined by "or" or "nor" agree with the second noun.The pronoun should agree with the second of the two.

After wandering over to the widow's bath house, neither Ed nor his lost chickens have been able to keep their wits.

After wandering over to the widow's bath house, neither the lost chickens nor Ed has been able to keep their wits.

Pronoun Pitfalls.

1. The muffled reference is a case in which the pronoun refers to something that is only implied beforehand.

A recent editorial contained an attack on the medical profession. The writer of the article accused them of charging excessively high fees.

To whom does "them" refer? Presumably "them" refers to individuals within the medical profession, but this is only implied.

2. The free-floating they and it refers to cases where "it" or "they" have no clear antecedent.

Because of the leaking ceiling, it means that the sock-hop will be canceled this fall.

What is the "it" referring to? The pronoun has no antecedent.

To learn whether or not John Wayne ever wore bloomers, they had to review his family photo album and the secret stack of photos that existed in his safe.

The "they" needs an antecedent. Presumably, the writer suggests that the "they" refers to whoever is investigating whether John Wayne ever wore bloomers, but this is not explicit.

Exercises. Fill in the blank

1. On the first day of summer, the Smiths found a rude surprise in _____ yard.

2. Everyone who has ever visited a public toilet has had _____share of sorrow because of those missing-toilet-paper woes.

3. For three days neither of the neighbor's dogs would eat _____ spaghetti.

4. A raccoon or the neighbor's chickens had left _____tracks on the hood of the car.

5. Every animal in the animal kingdom has the pleasure and distinction of being able to sing ______very own special tune.

6. Frank and ____ often argue about which of ____ has been to the Rugcutter's Ball the most times.

7. I can't tell my sister what _____ is missing when _____ refuses to laugh at life's little surprises.

8. Though she will never admit it, my wife always objects to _____ leaving the bathroom door open when I have a bit of a solid waste problem which I must take care of in the morning.

9. Each childish potty-humor joke must establish_____ own fate, must live and die before each crowd.

10. We must look deep within ______ if we are to find the true meaning of nonsense.

Edit the following sentences.Correct where necessary.

11. The loser of the Indian wrestling fight between Paul and I would have to buy the winner a Mr. Freeze.

12. We put two sets of camping gear in the truck—mine and her.

13. The rangers have never fished with us; they just want to help ourselves get our quota.

14. Every spring my Aunt Mary and me go to the cannery and wait for the sea lions to bark at us.

15. The girl with the long braids had to decide with whom she would share her popsicle—him or myself.

16. There wasn't room for we two in the truck, and neither him nor me had any candy to share.

17. Fluffy can hardly wait until Mrs. Robinson and her go to the porcupine races.

18. No one should be forced to sacrifice their prized possession—life—for someone else.

19. An eighteenth century architect was also a classical scholar; they were often at the forefront of archaeological research.

20. The instructor has asked everyone to bring their own tools to carpentry class.

Identify and correct each pitfall.

21. Shouting "Eureka!" over and over, he ran through the streets of Syracuse. They must have been amazed to see him.

22. When the next trip to Mars is undertaken, they will have to determine if it is made of Ben-Gay.

23.After the suffragettes finally were told they could vote, it was overseen by the League of Women Voters.

24. Recently, a Little League game was played in the dark at Cornshucker's Park. Nobody had told them where the light switch was.