A closed class of words, including he, I and you, which can generally stand in for a noun phrase.

Pronouns are normally used like nouns, except that:

  • they are grammatically more specialised
  • it is harder to modify them.

In the examples, each sentence is written twice: once with nouns, and once with pronouns (in red). Where the same thing is being talked about, the words are shown in bold.

  • Amanda waved to Michael. She waved to him.
  • John’s mother is over there. His mother is over there.
  • The visit will be an overnight visit. This will be an overnight visit.
  • Simon is the person: Simon broke it. He is the one who broke it.

Note that pronouns often occur not just in similar positions to nouns, but also in similar positions to entire noun phrases, e.g.

  • The children went to the park. ~They went to the park.

As well as personal pronouns like they and him, there are many other types of pronoun, including demonstrative pronouns (this, these, that), e.g. that is amazing!, indefinite pronouns (who, which, what, etc.) and reciprocal pronouns (each other, one another). Who and that are relative pronouns when they relate to an antecedent (e.g. That is the fox that we saw last night)

Some pronouns can change their form depending on their function. For example, in Subject position we have I, she, he, we, they, who, whereas in Object position we have me, her, him, us, them, whom. This is a distinction of case.

Playing with person

In this exercise, students make changes to pronouns in texts, and evaluate the effects of those changes.


  • Identify first, second, and third person pronouns, and practise switching from one to another.
  • Evaluate the effects of writing using different personal pronouns.

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that today, we will make changes to existing texts by changing the personal pronouns in those texts.

Playing with person: Activity

I’m sitting here looking out of the window. Nothing’s happening; it never does. I sit here every day for hours on end, just looking. Looking for what? I don’t know. They never told me what I should be looking for. And I’ve never found out.

I once thought I’d found something, but I couldn’t be sure. It might just have been a trick of the light. How was I to tell?

The second-person pronoun and textual effects

Exploring the use of you in different texts

In this lesson, students explore the potential readerly 'effects' of the second-person pronoun you.

Identify the pronoun type

Identify the type of pronoun highlighted in each example below:

Identify the pronouns

Click on the words that you think are pronouns to select or deselect them.

Y6 GPaS Test: I or me?

In each of the following examples, indicate whether the space should be filled with I or me:

Y6 GPaS Test: Identify the relative pronoun

Find the relative pronoun in a range of examples

Identify the relative pronouns in each of the following examples. Click on the word (or words) to select or deselect them.

Y6 GPaS Test: Noun or pronoun?

Work out whether the highlighted word is a noun or a pronoun

In each of the following examples, indicate whether the highlighted word is a noun or a pronoun:

Y6 GPaS Test: Pronoun or preposition?

In each of the following examples, indicate whether the highlighted word is a pronoun or a preposition:

Y6 GPaS Test: Select the pronouns

In each of the following examples, select the pair of pronouns that correctly fills the blanks:

Noun phrases

Noun phrases are phrases which have as their Head word a noun or pronoun.


Pronouns are one of the eight word classes in the National Curriculum. Some linguists would treat pronouns as a subclass of nouns, and there are some good reasons for that, but we adhere to the National Currciulum specifications.

Pronouns can sometimes replace a noun in a sentence:

Pronouns: Advanced

Pronouns behave in some ways like nouns and can sometimes replace them in a sentence. For this reason, pronouns are often treated as a subclass of nouns and there are some good reasons for doing this, but they are – in some important ways – different from nouns.


Englicious contains many resources for English language in schools, but the vast majority of them require you to register and log in first. For more information, see What is Englicious?

Englicious (C) Survey of English Usage, UCL, 2012-21 | Supported by the AHRC and EPSRC. | Privacy | Cookies