by Liz Walter
In my last post I looked mainly at personal pronouns such as he, them and yours. This post looks at some other common pronouns and at errors that students often make with them.
I’ll begin with the set most closely related to those we looked at last time – the reflexive pronouns myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves. These are used when the person or thing affected by the action is the same person or thing that is doing the action.
I bought myself a new phone.
Clara looked at herself in the mirror.
A common mistake is to use an object pronoun instead of a reflexive pronoun:
I bought me a sandwich.
I bought myself a sandwich.
Be careful with the spelling too – it is himself (not hisself) and yourself (not youself).
The words all and both can be used as pronouns. The most common errors are with word order when they are used after the subject of the sentence. The important thing to remember is that they must come before the main verb, or before the auxiliary verb:
They both bought a ticket.
They bought both a ticket.
We are all going to the party.
We all are going to the party.
Be careful with modal verbs – all and both come after the modal verb and before the main verb:
You must all leave the building.
You all must leave the building.
I have written about some and any before. In this post, I focussed on their use as quantifiers, but they can be used as pronouns too, and the same basic rules apply. You can look at that post for more details, but the most important rule is that some is used in positive sentences and any in negatives:
There’s plenty of milk. I bought some yesterday.
I need milk and we don’t have any.
I looked in the fridge and we didn’t have some.
Use the same rules for the indefinite pronouns someone, something, anyone or anything:
I didn’t see anyone.
I’m sure I saw someone.
I didn’t see someone.
Another important thing to remember about indefinite pronouns is that they always have a singular verb, even when they refer to more than one thing or person:
Everyone is ready.
Everyone are ready.
As you will see from this post and the last one, there are many common pronouns that often cause errors. I’ve tried to pick out some of the most common ones, and several of my previous posts have touched on this subject. For example, for more help with much and many, see this post, and for pronouns used in relative clauses, see this one.
Let me know if there are any other issues connected with pronouns that you would like to know more about!