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Pronouns are very useful words, especially when you’re writing longer sentences. In this lesson, you will learn what a pronoun is, when pronouns are used in sentences, and why pronouns are important to use in writing.

What Is a Pronoun?

A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. What exactly does this mean? A noun is a word for a person, place, thing, or idea and is usually fairly specific. Some examples of nouns are: ‘i’rl,’ ‘lion,’ ‘chair’, and ‘belief.’ Notice that each of these words represents a living or inanimate object, and you can picture each of these words in your head.A pronoun can be used to replace one of these nouns if you did not want to use the specific noun.

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For instance, ‘she’ is a pronoun that could be used to replace ‘girl,’ and ‘it’ is a pronoun that could be used to take the place of ‘chair.’ When a pronoun is used in place of a noun, it must match the number, point of view, and gender of the noun it is replacing.

Why Use Pronouns?

So, if nouns clearly represent the people, places, things, and ideas that they are used for, why would we want to replace them with pronouns?Read aloud this sentence, and you’ll begin to see why we use pronouns:

  • Marta and her sister are traveling to Marta and her sister’s uncle’s house for vacation, and Marta and her sister’s uncle are going to cook Marta, her sister’s, and her uncle’s favorite dinner.

Did you catch all that, or were you confused and tongue-tied after repeating the same nouns over and over again?Pronouns are useful in writing because they help make sentences smoother and clearer. Consider the same sentence when pronouns are used to replace the nouns once they have been introduced:

  • Marta and her sister are traveling to their uncle’s house for vacation, and he is going to cook their favorite dinner.

This is much easier to read.

Pronouns are also useful for expressing ideas about ourselves without having to use our own names. Imagine that Marta, the character from our previous sentence, is writing an email to her friend telling that friend about her upcoming trip. If Marta could not use a pronoun to refer to herself, she would write sentences like this:

  • Marta is going to see her uncle this weekend. Marta is very excited.

Upon reading this email, Marta’s friend would likely become very confused, not knowing if her friend or some other Marta was traveling. Plus, referring to yourself using your own name sounds awkward. First-person pronouns, or pronouns that refer to the speaker of the sentence like ‘I’ and ‘me,’ are used to clarify who the sentence is about and to make the sentence less awkward.

First-person pronouns refer to the speaker of the sentence.
First-person pronouns refer to the speaker of the sentence.</p>
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<h2>When Should I Use a Pronoun?</h2>
<p>For the most part, you can use a pronoun to replace a noun after you have used the noun once in a sentence.  For example, in the following sentence:</p>
<li>Alejandro left Alejandro’s coat at the movie theater.</li>
<p>You can replace ‘Alejandro’s’ with ‘his’ because you have used the noun ‘Alejandro’ earlier in the sentence, and it is clear to the reader that the coat belongs to him.</p>
<p>The exception to this rule is when you are using a first-person pronoun.  Remember, first-person pronouns are used when the speaker in the sentence is referring to his or herself.  For example, if Finn is the speaker in this sentence:</p>
<li>Finn would like to plant a garden.</p>
<p>He can use a first-person pronoun to refer to himself without having to use his name first:</p>
<li>I would like to plant a garden.</li>
<h2>Lesson Summary</h2>
<p><b>Pronouns</b> are words that are used to take the place of <b>nouns</b> in sentences.  They usually refer back to a noun used earlier in the sentence, and they must match the number, point of view, and gender of the noun.  We use pronouns to make sentences clearer, less awkward, and smoother.  Generally, pronouns can be used to replace a noun in a sentence when the noun has been used earlier in the sentence.</p>
<p>  The exception to this rule is when a <b>first-person pronoun</b>, or a pronoun referring to the speaker, is used in a sentence that is written from his or her point of view.  In this case, the pronoun can be used without having the noun it is referring to used first.</p>
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