January 15, 2018

Types of Pronouns

The most famous pronouns — I, you, me, etc. — are called personal pronouns. They come in subject forms, like she, and object forms, like her.

But there are lots of other types, too. There are possessive pronouns — my, your, his, etc. — which work like adjectives. There are reflexive pronouns — myself, yourself, himself — which reflect back on the subject. Indefinite pronouns are words like anyonesomeone and something. Demonstrative pronouns are thisthatthese and those. And there are more. Here's an easy but comprehensive overview of the pronoun types.

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Peeve Alert: Reflexive Pronouns
Posted by June on January 15, 2018

 

Reflexive pronouns can get you in trouble with nitpickers. Example:

I'd like to thank everyone on behalf of Robert and myself.

Here, the reflexive pronoun myself is being used in place of a regular personal pronoun: me. That's not exactly the job reflexive pronouns were born to do.

The main job of reflexives is to suggest the subject of the verb is doing something to himself.

I talked myself out of it.

She cried herself to sleep. 

He gave himself a raise.

If you want to stay in the lanes of what's considered proper reflexive pronoun use, here's a simple trick: Never use a reflexive where a regular personal pronoun would do.

Thanks for visiting Barb and myself can be Thanks for visiting Barb and me. John and myself will plan the party can be John and I will plan the party.

Language is flexible enough that you can sometimes get away with using reflexives as personal pronouns. But in formal situations, or anytime you're worried you're being judged, don't.

June Casagrande is a writer and journalist whose weekly grammar/humor column, “A Word, Please,” appears in community newspapers in California, Florida, and Texas. more

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    June A.S.: Everything you said is right, but I'm not sure which comment you're directing it at. Are you getting confused by passive voice as it comes into play in these sentences? "I called him" uses the object pronoun "him" because, as you said, is an object. When you invert that sentence to say "He was called," it's not the same sentence structure. In passive voice, the object of the action (so to speak) is made the grammatical subject of the sentence. So "He was called" does, as you said, required the subject pronoun "he." I don't believe anyone said anything to the contrary.

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    A.S. WRONG! If "Whom was called into the office" is a question then it's the equivalent of asking "Him was called into the office?" which is obviously wrong. If it's a statement it's still wrong. Look, it's not difficult: Me, him, her, them and whom are objects. I, he, she, they and who are subjects. If the person in the sample sentence is the object (as indicated by "whom") then the office must be the subject but there's no verb for the subject, so the person must be the subject and is therefore who. Understand?

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    June Punctuation rules for American English are indeed "always" put the period or comma before the closing quote mark. British style is as you described (that is, it follows a certain logic). But American rules are rooted in a printing convention that originated from aesthetics concerns. I'm quite confident that this American convention will go the way of the dinosaur. Wikipedia is proof: Their style is situational in the way you described. But for now, it's the rule: The comma always goes "inside," as does a "period."

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