Pronouns

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Pronouns are words that are used instead of nouns in order to save repeating the noun several times in the same sentence. For example, in the sentence "The Customer Service Representative is responsible for liaising with their customers", their is a pronoun taking the place of the noun the Customer Service Representative. Otherwise, the sentence would be "The Customer Service Representative is responsible for liaising with the Customer Service Representative's customers", which does not read well (even if it is grammatically correct).

Pronouns fall into one of three categories:

Nominative pronouns 
These function as the subject in the sentence.
Objective pronouns 
These function as objects or objects of prepositions.
Possessive pronouns
These show ownership (but unlike other possessive words, are never formed with an apostrophe).

The following table lists pronouns and their cases:

Nominative I he she we they who you it
Objective me him her us them whom you it
Possessive my
mine
his* her*
hers
our
ours
their
theirs
whose your
yours
its

Note: Many modern style guides now espouse the use of their in place of the construct "his/her" when the gender is undetermined.

Guidelines

  • Pronouns must agree in person, number, and gender, with the noun in the same sentence.

    Example Explanation
    John Thomas must be informed of all requests for his staff's time. John Thomas is second person masculine, single; the pronoun is a possessive pronoun.
    Once all signatories have given their approval... Signatories is third-person plural; the pronoun is an objective pronoun.

  • Use who and whoever wherever you can substitute he, she, they, I, or we (i.e. a nominative pronoun) as the object.
  • Use whom and whomever wherever you can substitute him, her, them, me or us (i.e. an objective pronoun) as the object.

    Example Explanation
    The application must be submitted to Personnel by the person who approved it. The answer to the question "Who approved it?" would be "He approved it." (and not "Him approved it.").
    The request should be returned to the requester from whom it originated. The answer to the question "From whom did the request originate?" would be "From him." (and not "From he.").

  • Use a plural pronoun when the antecedent consists of two nouns joined by and.
  • Use a plural pronoun when the antecedent consists of two plural nouns joined by or or nor.
  • Use a singular pronoun when the antecedent consists of two singular nouns joined by or or nor.
  • If the antecedent consists of a singular noun and a plural noun joined by or, nor, either/or, or neither/nor, make the pronoun match the nearest noun.

    Example Explanation
    The Sales Manager and the Territory Manager have submitted their approval. Two nouns joined by and.
    Neither Sales Managers nor Territory Managers can approve their own requests. Two plural nouns joined by nor.
    Neither the Sales Manager nor the Territory Manager has provided his approval. Two singular nouns joined by nor.
    Neither the Sales Manager nor the Customer Service Representatives may approve their own requests. The noun closest to the pronoun is plural.
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