The following are the Rules of correct use of Pronouns —

Personal Pronoun

Rule 1 – Number, Person and Gender

The first and basic rule of the use of Pronoun is that it must have the same Number, Person and Gender as the Number, Person and Gender of the Noun for which it has been used. As –

  1. He has done his work.
  2. She has done her work.
  3. You have done your work.
  4. I have done my work.
  5. We have done our work.
  6. They have done their work.

Rule 2 – Nominative Pronoun

Nominative Pronoun are used as the Subject of a Verb.
(He, She, I, You, We, They are in the Nominative Form). As –
  1. He is a good boy.
  2. She is going there.
  3. They are coming.
  4. You can go.

Rule 3 – Complement of the Verb ‘to be’

If a Verb ‘to be’ has a Pronoun for its complement, the Pronoun must be used in the Nominative form. As –
  1. It is I (not me) who came yesterday.
  2. It is he (not me) who will help you.
  3. If I were she (not her), I wouldn't do it.
  4. It is they (not them) who saved us.
Note:–  It should be remembered that in Exclamatory and Predictive use, Personal Pronoun can be used in the Objective form. As –
  • It is me! It wasn't him!

Rule 4 – Objective Form

If a Personal Pronoun is the Object of a Verb or a Preposition, it must be used in the Objective form. (Me, Us, Him, Them, Her, You are in the Objective Form). As –
  1. I knew him (not he) well.
  2. She comes to me (not I) for help.
  3. Our teacher has asked us (not we) to remain in the class.
  4. I have told them(not they) to go away from here.
  5. He depends upon me (not I).
  6. I go to them (not they) for guidance.

Rule 5 – Pronouns of Different Persons

If Pronouns of different Persons are to be used with the same Verb, they must be used in the following order –
  1. In Singular Number, ‘You’ (Second Person) should come first, ‘He’ (Third Person) should come next, and ‘I’ (First Person) should come last. This order is indicative of refined culture and good behaviour. In brief –
    You+He+I, i.e., 2+3+1

  2. In Plural Number –
    We + You + They, i.e., 1 + 2 + 3

  3. If the sentence has a bad sense, or is expressive of some error or fault, the order should be thus –
    I/We + You + He/They, i.e., 1 + 2 + 3
As –
  1. You and he and I are good friends.
  2. We and you and they  can live together.
  3. You and he are classmates
  4. John and I live in the same house.
  5. You and I can travel together.
  1. We and you and they can work together.
  2. We and they were in the same class.
  1. I and you and he have to accept our fault.
  2. You and he will be punished.

Rule 6 – Pronoun for a Collective Noun

With a Collective Noun the Pronoun used is Singular or Plural according to the sense. In the Singular Number we use ‘it/its’ and in Plural ‘they/them’. As –

  1. The fleet has sailed away on its voyage.
  2. The jury has given its verdict.
  3. The crew is ready. It is boarding the ship within minutes.
  1. The jury are divided in their opinion.
  2. The government are ready to revise their proposals.

Rule 7 – Pronoun for more than two Nouns

When two or more Nouns are joined by ‘and’, the Pronoun used for them is always Plural. As –
  1. John and Mathew are friends. They go to their school together.
  2. Harry and his friends have completed their work.

Rule 8 – Pronoun for Each or Every + Noun

When two or more Nouns are joined by ‘and’, and before each Noun there comes ‘each’ or ‘every’, the Pronoun used is always Singular. As –
  1. Each worker and each mason has come on his work.
  2. Each clerk and each typist has left his seat.

Rule 9 – Each, Either, Neither

They always take Singular Verb and Singular Possessive. As –
  1. Each of them is sure to get his chance.
  2. Either of them is free to bring his book.
  3. Neither of the workers has brought his tools.

Rule 10 – Either and Neither

Either and Neither are used for two things only, not for more than two. As –
  1. You can choose either of these two (not more than two) pen.
  2. Neither of the two brothers was selected.

Rule 11 – Anyone and None

When more than two things are referred to, we use ‘anyone’ in place of either, and ‘None’ in place of neither. As –
  1. Anyone of these four boys can go with me.
  2. None of these ten applicants is qualified.

Rule 12 – Each other/One another

They are called Reciprocal Pronouns. ‘each other’ is used for two things or persons, and ‘one another’ for more than two. As –
  1. The two brothers help each other.
  2. All the five brothers help one another.
  3. The two wheels rub against each other.
Note:–  In the modern usage, there is believed to be little difference between ‘each other’ and ‘one another’. Now, sometimes, ‘each other’ is used for more than two, and ‘one another’ for only two. As –
  1. These three sisters really love each other.
  2. Let us all help each other.

Rule 13 – Both and All

Both’ is used for two, and ‘All’ for more than two. As –
  1. Both the pens are good. (i.e., only two pens)
  2. Both the men (i.e., two men) are idle.
  3. All the pens (i.e., more than two) are good.
  4. All the men (i.e., more than two men) are idle.

Rule 14 – Pronoun for ‘or’, ‘either...or’/‘neither...nor’ + Noun

When two or more than two Nouns are joined with or, either...or, neither...nor, the Pronoun used for them is always Singular. As –
  1. Peter or Harry has lost his book.
  2. Either the lawyer or his clerk will be in his office.
  3. Neither Anthony nor Veronica has done his work.

Rule 15 – Pronoun for ‘or/nor’ + Singular and Plural Nouns

When a Singular Noun and a Plural Noun are joined by ‘or/nor’, the Pronoun used for them is always Plural. As –
  1. Either the Principal or the teachers had neglected their duty.
  2. Neither the father nor his sons had kept their promise.

Rule 16 – Pronouns for different Persons

When more than one Pronoun are of different Persons, and only one Pronoun is later to be used for them, there should be First Plural for First + Third, again First Plural for First + Second, and Second Person for Second + Third. As –
  1. You and I have dine our duty.
  2. You and John have dine your duty.

Rule 17 – Pronoun after than/as

A peculiar difficulty arises in the correct use of Pronoun after ‘than’ or ‘as’. The problem is to decide whether the Pronoun to be used after ‘than’ or ‘as’ should be in the Nominative form or Objective/Accusative form. In thus connection it should be remembered that the Pronoun used after ‘than’ or ‘as’ is the short form of a whole clause. Thus, the full form of “I am taller than he” will be “I am taller than he is”. Therefore, in order to decide whether the Nominative or the Objective form of the Pronoun should come after ‘than’ or ‘as’, we should mentally speak the whole clause beginning with ‘than’ or ‘as’, and as soon as we do so, the correct firm of the Pronoun will come in our mind. As –
  1. I am stronger than he (is).
  2. I am as strong as he (is).
  3. He loves you more than I (love you).
  4. I love you more than he (loves you).
  5. He gave you more marks than (he gave) me.
  6. I shall give you as many books as (I shall give) him.
Note:–  In sentences containing the Verbs of Incomplete Predication (suggesting the idea of being, becoming or seeming), Pronoun of Objective firm can also be used in place of Nominative form after ‘than’ or ‘as’. As –
  • He is taller than me.
This form is also acceptable as correct.

Rule 18 – Pronoun ‘It’

Pronoun ‘it’ is used in the following cases –
  1. For Inanimate things. As –
    • This is your house. It is a big house.
  2. For small animals, birds and insects. As –
    • There is a parrot. It is green.
    • I have a dog. It is very active.
  3. For very little children. As –
    • The child has wetten its napkin.
  4. For such statements as have already been referred to earlier. As –
    • He is giving a false statement; as he knows it.
    • He deserved his demotion; as he knew it.
  5. For the imaginary subject of the verb ‘to be’, while its real subject comes later. As –
    • It is certain that he will come.
    • It is easy to find its solution.
    • It is doubtful whether he will succeed.
  6. For laying emphasis on some Noun or Pronoun which comes after it. As –
    • It was you who first made the offer.
    • It was I who first pointed out the mistake.
    • It was this place where we met first.
    • It must be a foolish man who has been cheated twice by the same man.
    • It is this kind of behaviour that annoys everybody.
  7. For an imaginary or uncertain Nominative of an impersonal verb. As –
    • It rains. It thunders.
    • It snows. It blows.
  8. For referring to weather or time. As –
    • It is a fine weather.
    • It is 9 O'clock.
    • It is winter.
    • It is half past two.

Rule 19 – Pronoun ‘This’ or ‘It’

A difficulty often arises with regard to the use of ‘This’ or ‘It’ in a sentence. It has been made amply clear above that ‘It’ is only an imaginary Nominative, while ‘This’ is a real Nominative, or gives some definite reference or information about the real Nominative. ‘This’ is used to give the name, introduction or any other information about some one. It is used only for weather, season, time or some impersonal subject. ‘This’ refers to a person, thing, any specific information or quality, or nearness/closeness. As –
  1. This is my brother.
  2. This is a cow.
  3. This is BBC News.
  4. This is my point of view.
  5. This is 351558. (Telephone Number)