What is a pronoun?

What is a pronoun?
We explain what a pronoun is and how primary-school children are taught to use pronouns to avoid repetition in their written work.

What is a pronoun?

A pronoun is a word used to replace a noun.

Examples of pronouns are: he, she, it, they. We use pronouns so that we don't need to keep repeating the same nouns; for example, rather than repeat the noun 'the car' in this sentence, we use a pronoun (in bold):

We took the car to the garage because the car needed fixing.
We took the car to the garage because it needed fixing.

Personal pronouns explained

A personal pronoun is a word which can be used instead of a person, place or thing.

There are twelve personal pronouns for people: I, you, he, she, it, we, they, me, him, her, us and them.

There are three personal pronouns for things: they, them, it.

Personal pronouns allow you to avoid repeating a word and to refer to someone already mentioned. If the noun is plural, so is the pronoun which replaces it.

Possessive pronouns explained

Possessive pronouns are used to show ownership of a person or thing. Some can be used on their own (mine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs, whose); others must be used with a noun (my, your, his, her, its, our, their, whose).

Possessive pronouns are used to avoid repetition of the noun. For example:

John put John's bag on John's peg. He walked to John's classroom.

If you use pronouns the sentence reads:

John put his bag on his peg. He walked to his classroom.

Pronouns in primary school

In Key Stage 1, children are encouraged to make sure that they don't keep repeating nouns and use pronouns instead. Teachers encourage this progression by showing them how to do this in shared writing and through marking the children's writing. Reading various fiction and non-fiction texts will also give children a feel for using pronouns.

Children's ability to identify pronouns correctly is tested at the end of primary school as part of the KS2 SATs Punctuation, grammar and spelling test.