17 January, 2009

Reflexive and Intensive Pronouns

A pronoun that ends in self or selves is either a reflexive or an intensive pronoun.

Reflexive Pronouns:

A reflexive pronoun refers to the subject and directs the action of the verb back to the subject. Reflexive pronouns are necessary to the meaning of a sentence

Notice: that if you drop the reflexive pronoun, the sentence no longer makes sense. (Ben Carson dedicated to becoming a doctor.)

Intensive Pronouns
An intensive pronoun emphasizes a noun or another pronoun within the same sentence. Intensive pronouns are not necessary to the meaning of the sentence.

  • You yourself have overcome many hardships.
  • Dr. Carson himself has survived great poverty.

Notice:that when you drop the intensive pronoun, the sentence still makes sense. (Dr. Carson has survived great poverty.)
Avoid the use of hisself and theirselves, which are grammatically incorrect. Use himself and themselves instead.

Lecture Notes: PRONOUNS

Pronouns: A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun or other pronoun.

Pronoun Function in the Sentence:

Correct pronoun usage is determined by the function of the pronoun within the sentence. Is the pronoun the subject or the object of a verb or preposition?

Object forms: me, us, you, him, her, them.

  • Those flowers were given in honor of Andrew and I. [Incorrect]

  • Those flowers were given in honor of Andrew and me. [Correct]

To complete this sentence, “of” must have an object; therefore, “Andrew and I” must become “Andrew and me.”

Subject forms: I, we, you, he, she, it, they

  • Me and her went to the game [Incorrect]
  • She and I went to the game [Correct]

Because “me and her” are object forms, they cannot function as the subjects of this sentence; they must be changed to “she and I.”

Types of Pronouns:
Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns refer to a person or a thing.

1st person – I, we, me, us
2nd person – You
3rd person – He, she, it, they, him, her, them

Indefinite Pronouns:

Indefinite pronouns function as nouns in a sentence, but do not take the place of a specific person or thing.

Anybody, No one ,Anyone, Nothing, Anything, One
Each, Somebody Everybody, Someone
Everyone, Something

Plural :
A couple, A few,Many,Several,Both

There are also some indefinite pronouns which function as both singular and plural: all, some, none. If these pronouns refer to a noun measured by amount, they are singular. If they refer to a noun measured by number, they are plural.

  • All of the students are going to the principal’s office. (Plural)
    [Students can be individually counted; therefore “all” is a plural pronoun]
  • All of the work we have done is pointless. (Singular)

[Work cannot be counted individually; therefore, “all” is a singular pronoun]

Relative Pronouns

Like personal pronouns, relative pronouns refer back to a person or thing and must function as either an object or subject in the sentence. Object forms include whom and whomever. Subject forms include who and whoever.

Difficulty arises when there is uncertainty about how these pronouns are functioning in the sentence. Ask yourself, “Is the pronoun a subject or an object?”

If the pronoun is following a preposition or verb, treat it as an object.

  • At whom did you throw the bouquet?
    [“Whom” is the object of the preposition “at”]
  • The professor picked whomever he wanted.
    [“Whomever” is the object of the verb “picked”]

If the pronoun is the subject, use the subject form.

  • Who is the speaker at the banquet? (Who is the subject of the sentence)
  • I will choose whoever speaks up first. (Whoever is the subject of the noun clause)

Agreement in Person and Number:

A common error occurs when pronouns do not agree in person and number. To avoid these errors, remember that the word that a pronoun is replacing is called the antecedent. As such, pronouns must agree with their antecedents in number:

  • The students went to his or her rooms. [Incorrect: Students is a plural antecedent]
  • The students went to their rooms. [Correct: The plural pronoun agrees with the plural antecedent]

The most common pronoun agreement error in number occurs when the antecedent is an indefinite pronoun:

1. Each of the fans cheered as they watched the team sprint onto the field.
2. Everyone brought their pencil for the evaluation.
3. Both women in the portrait balanced her jars.
4. Several of the men raised his hand to volunteer.

1. Each of the fans cheered as he or she watched the team sprint onto the field.
2. Everyone brought his or her pencil for the evaluation.
3. Both women in the portrait balanced their jars.
4. Several of the men raised their hands to volunteer

Ambiguous Pronoun Reference

Another common error is ambiguous pronoun reference. This occurs when the user uses multiple or ambiguous antecedents. If a personal pronoun is used following multiple antecedents, the reader may be unsure to which antecedent the pronoun is referring:

  • The captain told his first officer that he could take leave next week. [Does “he” refer to the captain or the first officer?]

To avoid these errors, either make sure that pronouns clearly refer back to their appropriate antecedents or rephrase the sentence so that there is no confusion:

  • The captain told his first officer that the officer could take leave next week.
  • The captain granted the officer’s request to take leave next week.

Also, demonstrative pronouns (this, that, these, those) are often used in an ambiguous manner:

  • This may be contributing to the increase in crime. [What does “this” refer to?]

“This” is a demonstrative pronoun that might be referring to any number of causes. To avoid errors, specify the causes, or, if they have been specified in a previous sentence, find a key word to repeat:

  • Negligence may be contributing to the increase in crime.
  • This negligence may be contributing to the increase in crime.

Pronouns are a useful tool in avoiding repetition and monotony in writing. However, if you are using pronouns, be sure to keep these rules in mind so as to avoid misinterpretation and confusion.

05 January, 2009

Lecture Notes: Pronouns

A pronoun is a word that is used in place of a noun or another pronoun. Like a noun, a pronoun can refer to a person, place, thing, or idea. The word that a pronoun refers to is called its antecedent.

Personal Pronouns

Pronouns such as we, I, she, them, and it are called personal pronouns. Personal pronouns have a variety of forms to indicate different persons, numbers, and cases.

Person and Number

There are first-person, second-person, and third-person personal pronouns, each having both singular and plural forms.


Each personal pronoun forms has three cases: subject, object, and possessive. Which form to use depends on the pronoun’s function in a sentence.

The following chart shows all the forms of the personal pronouns:

Subject Pronouns

A subject pronoun is used as the subject of a sentence or as a predicate pronoun after a linking verb.

Pronouns as Subjects

Use a subject pronoun when the pronoun is a subject or part of a compound subject.

  • The Apollo program was a great success. It got us to the moon. (It, referring to The
    Apollo program, is the subject of the sentence.)

A pronoun can be part of a compound subject.

  • You and I both think we should go on to Mars.

Predicate Pronouns

A predicate pronoun follows a linking verb and identifies the subject. Use the subject case for predicate pronouns.

Remember, the most common linking verbs are forms of the verb be, including is, am, are, was, were, has been, have been, can be, will be, could be, and should be.

Object Pronouns

An object pronoun is used as a direct object, an indirect object, or an object of a preposition.

Direct Object The pronoun receives the action of a verb and answers the question whom or what.

Indirect Object The pronoun tells to whom or what or for whom or what an action is performed.

Object of a Preposition The pronoun follows a preposition (such as to, from, for, against, by, or about).
Always use object pronouns after the preposition between.

  • It’s a contest between him and me. (NOT between he and I.)

Possessive Pronouns
A possessive pronoun is a personal pronoun used to show ownership or relationship.

The possessive pronouns my, your, her, his, its, our, and their come before nouns.

The possessive pronouns mine, ours, yours, his, hers, its, and theirs can stand alone in a sentence.

  • This cat is mine. That cat is his.

  • Is the striped cat yours? No, mine is all black.

  • What color is his? Hers hasn’t come home yet.

Possessive Pronouns and Contractions
Some possessive pronouns sound like contractions (its/it’s, your/you’re, their/they’re). Because these pairs sound alike, writers often confuse possessive pronouns and contractions.
Remember, a possessive pronoun never has an apostrophe. A contraction, however, always has an apostrophe. The apostrophe shows where a letter or letters have been left out in a combination of two words.

04 January, 2009



When creating possessive form nouns there are 8 simple rules:

If a singular noun does not end in s, add 's.

  • The delivery boy's truck was blocking the driveway.
  • Bob Dole's concession speech was stoic and dignified.
  • The student's attempts to solve the problem were rewarded

2. If a singular common noun ends in s, add 's- unless the next word begins with s. If the next word begins with s, add an apostrophe only. (This includes words with s and sh sounds.)

  • The boss's temper was legendary among his employees.
  • The boss' sister was even meaner.
  • The witness's version of the story has several inconsistencies.
  • The witness' story did not match the events recorded on tape.

3. If a singular proper noun ends in s, add an apostrophe.

  • Chris' exam scores were higher than any other students.

4. If a noun is plural in form and ends in an s, add an apostrophe only, even if the intended meaning of the word is singular (such as mathematics and measles.)

  • The instructor asked us to analyze ten poems' meanings.
  • The dog catcher had to check all of the dogs' tags.
  • It is hard to endure the Marine Corps' style of discipline.

5. If a plural noun does not end in s, add 's.

  • Many activists in Oregon are concerned with children's rights.
  • Everyone was disappointed with the American media's coverage of the Olympics in Atlanta.

6. If there is joint possession, use the correct possessive for only the possessive closest to the noun.

  • Clinton and Gore's campaign was successful.
  • She was worried about her mother and father's marriage.
  • Beavis and Butthead's appeal is absolutely lost on me.

7. If there is a separate possession of the same noun, use the correct possessive form for each word.

  • The owner's and the boss's excuses were equally false.
  • The dog's and the cats' owners were in school when the fire broke out.

8. In a compound construction, use the correct possessive form for the word closest to the noun. Avoid possessives with compound plurals.

  • My father-in-law's BMW is really fun to drive.
  • The forest ranger's truck is painted an ugly shade of green.
  • Your neighborhood letter carrier's job is more difficult than you imagine.


Capital letters are used with:

1. Names and titles of people

  • Winston Churchillb.
  • Marilyn Monroec.
  • the Queen of Englandd.
  • the President of the United Statese.
  • the Headmaster of Etonf.
  • Doctor Mathewsg.
  • Professor Samuels.

Note: The personal pronoun 'I' is always written with a capital letter.

2. Titles of works, books etc.

  • War and Peaceb.
  • The Merchant of Venicec.
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Tristan and Isolde

3. Months of the year

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

4. Days of the week

  • Saturday
  • Sunday
  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday

5. Seasons

  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Autumn
  • Winter

6. Holidays

  • National Day
  • Eid Al Fitr
  • Eid Al Adha
  • New Year's Day

7. Geographical names...

  • names of countries and continents
  • names of regions, states, districts etc.
    Costa Brava
  • names of cities, towns, villages etc.
    Cape Town
    Wagga Wagga
  • names of rivers, oceans, seas, lakes etc.
    the Atlantic
    the Dead Sea
    the Pacific
    Lake Leman
    Lake Victoria
    Lake Michigan
    the Rhine
    the Thames
    the Nile
  • names of geographical formations
    the Himalayas
    the Alps
    the Sahara
  • Adjectives relating to nationality nouns
    France - French music
    Australia - Australian animals
    Germany - German literature
    Arabia - Arabic writing
    Indonesia - Indonesian poetry
    China - Chinese food
  • Names of streets, buildings, parks etc.
    Park Lane
    Central Avenue
    Pall Mall
    George Street
    Sydney Opera House
    Central Park
    Hyde Park
    the Empire State Building

Lecture Notes: Nouns


A noun is a name given to an object or idea.

Classes of Nouns:

1. A common noun is a name given to any one of a class of objects (tulip, city, face, movie, girl, clue, lake, cookie).Common nouns can be classified into the following sub-classes:

  • A concrete noun is the name of a perceivable object (spoon).
  • An abstract noun is the name of a quality or idea (truth, ethics).
  • A collective noun is the name of a group of things (mob, herd).
  • A mass noun is the name of a non-countable collection (time).

2. A proper noun is the official title of a specific object; it is therefore always capitalized (Dionysus, Bela Lugosi, Atlantic Ocean, Mother Goose).A proper noun can always be put into its common noun class: Texas -> state; Atlantic -> ocean; Bela Lugosi -> man (or actor).

Properties of Nouns

There are four basic properties for English nouns:

1. Gender - a property that indicates the sex of the referent. These include:

  • Masculine - king, uncle, boy, etc.
  • Feminine - queen, aunt, girl, witch, etc.
  • Common - parent, singer, table, etc.

2. Person - property indicating the relationship between the noun and the speaker. These include:

  • First person - object(s) speaking (I, John, am here.)
  • Second person - object(s) spoken to (John, come here.)
  • Third person - object(s) spoken of (John is here.)

3. Number - An indication of one or more than one object. This includes:

  • Singular - denotes one object (cat)
  • Plural - denotes more than one object (cats)

4. Case - Indicates the grammatical function of the object. These include:

a. Nominative - The noun is the doer of the action (or the subject)

  • The sun shines. (subj)
  • Grant was a general. (subj complement)
  • The chief, an old man, rose. (appositive)
  • Charles, please come here. (direct address)

b. Objective - The noun is acted upon

  • Bob repelled the intruder. (d/o)
  • Mom gave Ellen a hug. (i/o)
  • Tom hit Bill, the new boy. (appositive of d/o)
  • Mom gave Ellen, her daughter, a hug. (appositve of i/o)
  • The man under the tree smiled. (obj prep)

c. Possessive - Denotes ownership or agency

  • The boy’s kite... (one boy)
  • The boys’ kite... (more than one boy)
  • John and Bill’s kite... (joint ownership)
  • John’s and Bill’s kites... (indiv. ownership)

    Plural Forms

    In English, plural nouns are formed in different ways:
    1. Regular plurals - Formed by adding -s or -es to singular noun forms (cars, boxes, etc.)
    2. Irregular plurals - Formed by spelling change (foot -> feet; mouse -> mice; child -> children)
    3. Double plurals - A noun that can have both a regular and irregular plural form (brother -> brothers or brethren; bandit -> bandits or banditti)
    4. Plurals treated as singular - Some nouns have a plural form but a singular meaning(news; means; physics, dollars)

    Role of Nouns

    A noun can have a variety of functions in English, including:
    Subject of a verb - who/what does the action.
  • The water ripples.
  • Sparks flew.

2. Object of a verb - who/what receives the action; for whom/what?

  • I scratched my nose. (d/o)
  • I gave the lady the case. (i/o)

3. Object of a preposition - the “what?” of the preposition.

  • The pendulum swings over the pit.

4. Complement - completes the meaning of another noun or pronoun.

  • I am a student. (sub. complement)
  • I saw Joe, the new hire. (obj complement)

5. Appositive - A noun used to explain or identify another nounal.

  • I waved at my guest, a strange fellow.
  • The story, a tale of fabulous imagination.
  • I called Bob, my professor.