I’ve noticed that it’s not only English students who have problems with pronouns. Native speakers don’t always know when to use Me, Myself, and I. Even people in the media, including radio presenters and politicians, make constant mistakes. So, let’s have a look at pronouns and when to use them.
Well, we need to start with sentences. Every sentence must have a subject and a verb. We can replace the subjects with pronouns, which are called ‘subject pronouns’.
|Babies cry.||(Subject = Babies)||They cry.|
|This shark kills.||(Subject = This shark)||It kills.|
|Dogs bite.||(Subject = Dogs)||They bite.|
|John is singing.||(Subject = John)||He is singing.|
Some sentences have objects. We can replace the objects with pronouns, which are called ‘object pronouns’.
|This shark killed a girl yesterday.||It killed her yesterday.|
|John is singing that song too slowly.||He is singing it too slowly.|
|Rena likes cats.||She likes them.|
|That dog bit Pablo.||It bit him.|
Not all verbs show action but it is useful to think of it in this way: that the subject does the action, and the object receives the action. The dog did the action. Poor Pablo received the action of the dog.
Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject and object are the same. They ‘reflect’ back on the subject. You cannot use reflexive pronouns if you have not used the subject they are referring to.
- The dog bit himself/ itself. = The dog bit the dog. (‘Himself/itself’ refers back to the dog. They are the same.)
- The dog bit him. = The dog bit a male person or animal.
- Taka bought the car for himself. = Taka bought the car for Taka. (‘Himself’ and Taka are the same.)
- Taka bought the car for him. = Taka bought the car for a male person.
|Reflexive pronouns:||myself||yourself yourselves||himself||herself||itself||ourselves||themselves|
Look at the following conversation:
DIANA: Are you going to the Lady Gaga concert in Brisbane next month Sally?
SALLY: I‘d like to, but I don’t want to go by myself.
DIANA: That’s why I‘m asking you. Why don’t you go with me?
SALLY: Great idea! Thanks. We could check with Emma too. She loves Lady Gaga and she wouldn’t want to go to the concert by herself. She could go with us. How are you getting there?
DIANA: We could drive or get a lift with Harry. He drives to Brisbane every weekend.
SALLY: I think that we should drive ourselves and not depend on him. It will be more convenient.
Sally and me are going to the Lady Gaga concert.
Correction: Sally and I are going to the Lady Gaga concert. (Subject = Sally and I)
* Sally bought the ticket for
Correction: Sally bought the ticket for me. (Object = me)
* The football game was very exciting for
John and I.
Correction: The football game was very exciting for John and me. (Object = John and me)
The children and myself are going to the next game.
Correction: The children and I are going to the next game. (Subject = The children and I)
* A: Who are these books for? B:
Correction: A: Who are these books for? B: Me. (Object = Me)
For more information on Pronouns, click here. For practice exercises, click here and here.