Back to Writing Tips

 

Your and Youíre

The word your is a possessive pronoun. The word shows ownership. The word you're means "you are."

Is that your glass?

Where is your house?

It is your car, right?

Youíre my friend.

Youíre the coolest kid Iíve ever met.

Their and They're

The same principle applies to their and they're. Their is a possessive pronoun; they're means "they are."

Their book is on the table.

Their car was wrecked in the accident.

Theyíre really awesome people.

Theyíre my best friends.

Its and Itís

The word its is the possessive pronoun for the pronoun it. This word shows ownership. It's means "it is." There is no such word as its'.

The book is missing all of its pages.

The house is losing all of its heat through that big hole in the wall.

Where is my house? Oh, itís around the corner.

*** It may be helpful to note here that NO possessive pronoun will ever use an apostrophe.

Who and Whom

Whom is used after a preposition or as the object of a verb:

You will meet the person about whom I am talking later.

The person to whom I am sending this card is my momís sister.

You're going to kiss whom? (Whom are you going to kiss?)

Who is the subject form of the pronoun and should therefore be used as a subject of a sentence or a subordinate clause.

Who is that girl?

They referred me to the girl who is in charge.

Who kissed whom?

It is often helpful to reconstruct sentences in order to determine to use who or whom. Also, keep in mind the similarities between "he/who" and "him/whom." If you can substitute "him," you can use "whom." If you have to substitute "he," then use "who."

Whom did the committee select? The committee did select whom?

Who did the committee select? Did the committee select him?

Who called? He called.

Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement:

The antecedent is the noun that the pronoun replaces. Within sentences, the pronoun must agree with the antecedent in number (singular/plural).

Wrong: Each person must take their coat to the dry cleaner.

The pronoun in this sentence is their, and the antecedent is person. This sentence is not grammatically correct because the word person is singular and the word their is plural.

Right: Everyone must take his or her coat to the dry cleaner.

People most commonly make this mistake in their writing because they are trying to avoid using gender-specific language. However, it is important to make sure that the writing is grammatically correct. Either use "his or her" or change the entire sentence to the plural:

Right: All the players must take their coats to the dry cleaner.

Note: Pronouns like everyone, each, and someone are singular, not plural.

Wrong: Everyone must take their coat to the cleaner.

Right: Everyone must take his or her coat to the cleaner.

 

More Information on Pronouns:

A pronoun by definition is a word used in place of a noun. All of the following words are examples of pronouns: she, him, it, your, who, whom, myself, himself, them, whose, which, this, that, these, those, ourselves, each, everybody, everyone, any, anything, several, both, many, neither, some, somebody. You use a pronoun when you want to avoid repeating the noun that precedes it.

Example:

When I called Angie, she shrieked with excitement.

The pronoun replaces a specific noun, known as its antecedent. In the previous example, the antecedent was Angie.

Types of Pronouns:

Personal: We use personal pronouns to refer to specific persons or things.

Singular: I, me, you, she, her, he, him, it

Plural: we, us, you, they, them

Possessive: This type of pronoun shows ownership.

Singular: my, mine, your, yours, her, hers, his, its

Plural: our, ours, your, yours, their, theirs

Relative: Relative pronouns introduce subordinate clauses, which act as adjectives or descriptors in the sentence.

Example: The friend who just called me is coming over.

The relative pronoun who refers back to the noun that the subordinate clause who just called me is modifying or describing. Relative pronouns include who, whom, whose, which, and that.

Demonstrative: These pronouns indicate "which?" They include this, that, these, and those.

Indefinite: Indefinite pronouns refer to nonspecific persons or things. They include the following:

all, another, any, anybody, anyone, anything, both, each, either, everybody, everyone, everything, few, many, neither, nobody, none, no one, nothing, one, several, some, somebody, someone, something.

Reciprocal: These pronouns indicate a reciprocal relationship between two things: each other, one another

Back to Writing Tips