Pronouns

A pronoun is a word that replaces a noun. It stands for a person, place, thing, or idea that has usually already been mentioned. In a typical sentence, the sentence contains a subject (sujeito), a verb and an object (objeto). The subject and the object are usually nouns.

                 e.g. The cowboy fell off his horse.

Here the subject (cowboy) and object (horse) are both nouns. But if we are going to say several things about the cowboy, then we don't wish to keep repeating the word.

                  e.g. The cowboy drank so much whiskey that he fell of his horse.

So now he is a pronoun replacing the word cowboy.


The table below lists the more common pronouns.

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As mentioned above, most sentences are structured: Subject - Verb - Object

               I gave the book to you. (I is the subject, you is the object)

              You gave the book to him, etc, etc.

Notice how Possessive Adjectives still precede a noun:

              It is my book.

              It is your book, etc, etc

It is the subject and book is the object of the sentence.

While Possessive Pronouns replace the noun:

             The book is mine.

             The book is yours, etc, etc.

Mine and yours are the object of the sentence. 

            e.g. My wife has always preferred her mother’s recipe for chili-con-carne to mine.

            e.g. Cathy went to the movie with a friend of hers.

Reflexive pronouns - where the subject and the object are the same person.

             I washed myself.

             You washed yourself, etc, etc.

            e.g. We caused ourselves a lot of problems with the miscommunication.

            e.g. Robert hated himself for not having the courage to ask Denise out for dinner.

Note how 'they/them' are the plural forms of 'it'.

I bought a chair. It is made of leather, but my wife didn't like it.

I bought some chairs. They are made of leather, but my wife didn't like them.


  

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns can be used as an alternative to “it” or plural nouns, and can also be the subject or object of a sentence.

Singular: this (isto) / that (aquele)          Plural: these (estes) / those (aqueles)


                   This is the first time I’ve been to Brazil.

                    I had many man-management issues. Those were always the hardest problems to resolve.


General Tips on Pronouns

      *  When writing, ask yourself – Which noun is the pronoun referring back to? In sentences with more than one noun, it must be clear which noun the pronoun is replacing.

          e.g. The owners of the animals believed that they would win first prize in the show.

In this example, it is not clear whether ‘they’ is referring to ‘owners’ or ‘animals’.

*  ‘It’ is for companies/organizations/entities – ‘they’ is for people.

      *  In Portuguese, we often see sentences without a subject and that begin with a verb. This is known as the sujeito oculto (or hidden subject). In English this is not possible - we must always have a subject even when there isn't one! In these cases we use a 'generic subject' - usually either it or there.  

                 Example: It was only at the beginning of the 20th century that women gained the right to vote in Great Britain. In this case, ‘it’ is used as an ‘impersonal subject’ for reporting in the third person.

​                  It was 12.30 by the time I got home.

                  It seemed better not to mention that I had already seen the movie.


‘There’ can also perform this role of impersonal subject.

                  There were 60 people at the party.

Remember that in formal writing we used reported speech and the third person so that we can appear objective in stating what happened.

 
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