Mastering Adjective Pronouns: A Guide for Writers

Hey there! Ever found yourself re-reading a sentence you wrote, thinking it feels a bit off? Maybe it’s not as clear as you’d like, or perhaps it lacks that personal touch that connects with your readers.

Often, the magic ingredient you’re missing is as simple as an adjective pronoun. Yep, you heard that right. Those tiny words we often overlook can seriously pack a punch in your writing.

Adjective pronouns are special words that act like pronouns. They describe something without actually naming it. Even though they mostly resemble adjectives, they don’t specifically mention the things they describe.

Examples include words like:

♦ one (possession or plural)
♦ none
♦ this
♦ that
♦ these
♦ those
♦ other
♦ former
♦ some
♦ few
♦ many
♦ and so on.

Imagine you’re setting a scene in a story. Which sounds better?

The raincoat belonged to her or Her raincoat fluttered in the wind?

Adjective pronouns pull the reader closer, making them feel right there with you. They add clarity and style, turning bland sentences into vivid snapshots.

At first glance, they seem straightforward, right?

Types of Adjective Pronouns

We group adjective pronouns into demonstrative pronouns or indefinite pronouns, depending on their meaning.

Demonstrative Pronouns

The demonstrative pronouns are this (plural: these) and that (plural: those). They highlight people or things that deserve special attention. You can use the demonstratives as adjectives or pronouns.

As Adjectives

These examples show demonstrative pronouns used as adjectives.

This sailor saved my life.
These girls are artistic.
♦ Be kind to this animal.
♦ I am not scared by these threats.
♦ Give this boy some money.
These cherries are sour.
This fire is too hot.
♦ Look at these acorns.
That saw is dull.
♦ Take those dishes away.
♦ Who are those strangers?
♦ Send that dog home.
♦ Do you see those rocks?
♦ I am tired of that song.
♦ I am sorry for those kids.

As Pronouns

These examples show demonstrative pronouns used as pronouns.

♦ This is a fine morning.
♦ These are cowboys.
♦ This is my uncle.
♦ Roberto gave me these.
♦ Can you do this?
♦ This is the road.
♦ Who are these?
♦ Look at this.
♦ These are our rackets.
♦ That would please them.
♦ Those are nasturtiums.
♦ That must be Geno.
♦ What are those?
♦ What is that?
♦ Those are kangaroos.

When you use a word like this or that before a noun, like in ‘this sailor,’ it acts as an adjective because it describes the noun. But if you use this or that on its own to point something out, like in ‘This is a fine morning,’ it takes the place of a noun and is called a pronoun.

So, in the sentence ‘This camera is expensive,’ the word ‘this’ is an adjective because it describes the camera. But in ‘This is expensive,’ ‘this’ is a pronoun because it stands in for the expensive thing.

♦ I made this cake myself!
♦ They did the work themselves.

Number Inflection

Demonstratives change form only to show if there’s one or more than one thing (like ‘this’ for one and ‘these’ for more).

They look the same whether they’re talking about something masculine, feminine, or neutral.

Also, they’re the same in the subject and object positions in a sentence. Instead of having a special possessive form, we use ‘of’ with the object form to show possession

Singular Plural
Subjective/Objective this these
Possessive of this of these
Subjective/Objective that those
Possessive of that of those

Avoiding Repetition

You can use a demonstrative pronoun to avoid repeating a noun.

♦ Compare these maps with those on the blackboard.

Instead of: Compare these maps with those maps on the blackboard.

Using Kind and Sort

We use the singular forms this and that (not the plurals these and those) with the nouns kind and sort.

♦ I like this kind of grapes.
♦ I have met this sort of people before.
That kind of apples grows in Idaho.

Indefinite Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are more specific than indefinite pronouns. Which include:

♦ each
♦ every
♦ either
♦ both
♦ neither
♦ some
♦ any
♦ such
♦ none
♦ other
♦ another
♦ each other
♦ one another

Each has its benefits.
Some are missing.
♦ I cannot give you any.
Either is correct.
♦ He knows neither of you.
♦ I like both.

Using None

Indefinites can be pronouns or adjectives. But ‘none’ is always a pronoun, and ‘every’ is always an adjective.

None can be singular or plural, no rules. When it means not a single one, it’s singular. You can use either construction most times.

None of us has the key.
None was (or were) left to tell the tale.

Reciprocal Pronouns

Each other‘ and ‘one another‘ are like two-word pronouns. These kinds of pronouns show a back-and-forth relationship and they’re used to talk about how people or things connect which is why they are called reciprocal.

♦ My neighbour and I like each other.
means we both like each other.
♦ We must be patient with one another‘.
means we all need to be patient with each other.

Really, there’s no big difference between ‘each other’ and ‘one another.’

Indefinite Personal Pronoun

We use the word ‘one’ (and one’s) to refer to people in general, including yourself.

♦ One does not like one’s motives to be doubted.

Though you would probably say: ‘People don’t like it when others doubt their motives.’

Some people might use a pronoun instead of ‘one’s’ after saying ‘one,’ but the most accepted way is to stick with ‘one’s.’

Indefinite Nouns

Words like ‘all,’ ‘several,’ ‘few,’ and ‘many’ are usually called indefinites because they don’t refer to something specific. They can describe things (like adjectives) or stand in for things themselves (like nouns).

Some Rules

Some rules for adjective pronouns.

♦ They rarely change form, except sometimes ‘others’ is the plural form of ‘another.’
♦ Also, indefinite nouns like ‘everybody,’ ‘everything,’ ‘anybody,’ ‘anything,’ ‘somewhat,’ talk about things or people generally, not specific ones.
♦ When we talk about owning something, we say ‘another’s’ for one thing and ‘others’’ for more than one thing.
♦ Similarly, ‘the other’ turns into ‘the others’ in plural, and we use ‘the other’s’ and ‘the others’’ to show ownership.
♦ For phrases like ‘each other’ and ‘one another,’ we just add ’s to show possession.
♦ The word ‘one’ uses ‘one’s’ to show something belongs to ‘one,’ and ‘the one’ changes to ‘the ones’ when there’s more than one.”

Possessive Pronouns vs. Adjective Pronouns: What’s the Difference?

I remember writing a story where I kept mixing up possessive pronouns with adjective pronouns. It was a mess! So, let’s clear up the confusion:

♦ Adjective pronouns modify nouns directly (e.g., “my book”).
♦ Possessive pronouns stand alone (e.g., “the book is mine”).

Once you get this down, it’s like a lightbulb moment.

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Exercises for Using Adjective Pronouns

Take a few moments and replace the blanks with the correct compound personal pronouns.

  1. Could you hand me ______ pen right here?
  2. ______ cookies on the table are for the guests.
  3. ______ student must submit their project by next Friday.
  4. We need to support ______ during tough times.
  5. ______ effort is better than no effort at all.
  6. Can I have ______ slice of cake, please?
  7. Few of the students had ______ previous experience with the subject.
  8. ______ member of the team played an important role.
  9. The participants congratulated ______ after the competition.
  10. ______ people prefer coffee to tea in the morning.
  11. I don’t think ______ of these paintings is original.
  12. ______ kind of situation needs to be handled delicately.
  13. We haven’t seen ______ since last year.
  14. ______ book you mentioned sounds interesting.
  15. ______ solution might be more effective in the long run.
Click on the + button for the answers

1. Could you hand me ______ pen right here?
Answer: this

2. ______ cookies on the table are for the guests.
Answer: Those

3. ______ student must submit their project by next Friday.
Answer: Every

4. We need to support ______ during tough times.
Answer: each other

5. ______ effort is better than no effort at all.
Answer: Some

6. Can I have ______ slice of cake, please?
Answer: another

7. Few of the students had ______ previous experience with the subject.
Answer: any

8. ______ member of the team played an important role.
Answer: Each

9. The participants congratulated ______ after the competition.
Answer: one another

10. ______ people prefer coffee to tea in the morning.
Answer: Many

11. I don’t think ______ of these paintings is original.
Answer: either

12 ______ kind of situation needs to be handled delicately.
Answer: This

13. We haven’t seen ______ since last year.
Answer: each other

14. ______ book you mentioned sounds interesting.
Answer: That

15. ______ solution might be more effective in the long run.
Answer: Another

10 Adjective Pronoun Tips

  1. Understand Their Function: Adjective pronouns modify nouns or pronouns by describing a particular quality or pointing out which one. Understanding this will help you use them more effectively.
  2. Use for Clarity: Adjective pronouns like “this,” “that,” “these,” and “those” can clarify which person or thing you’re talking about, especially in complex sentences.
  3. Maintain Consistency: Ensure you match the number (singular or plural) of the adjective pronoun with the noun it’s modifying. For example, “this apple” (singular) vs. “these apples” (plural).
  4. Avoid Ambiguity: Be specific with adjective pronouns to avoid confusion. For instance, “this theory” is clearer than just saying “this,” especially if you’re discussing multiple theories.
  5. Practice Precision: Choose the most precise adjective pronoun for your message. “Each,” “every,” “any,” and “some” can convey subtly different meanings.

6. Respect Pronoun Agreement: Make sure the adjective pronoun agrees in number and gender (when applicable) with the noun it modifies.
7. Explore Possessive Forms: Possessive adjective pronouns like “my,” “your,” “his,” “her,” “its,” “our,” and “their” indicate ownership and can make sentences more personal.
8. Use for Inclusion or Exclusion: Using “each other” or “one another” promotes a sense of community or togetherness, while “either” or “neither” can distinguish and separate.
9. Know When to Use “One”: Using “one” as an adjective pronoun can add formality or universality to your statement.
10. Contrast with “Other”: “Other” is useful for making comparisons or indicating alternatives, enriching your analysis or discussion.

 

Last Words on Adjective Pronouns

If you want your writing to be clear, personal, and engaging. Play around with adjective pronouns

Take a paragraph you’ve written and have some fun with those adjective pronouns. A minor change can really make a big difference, you know?

And hey, if you’ve got a sentence or two you’re proud of, why not share it in the comments? Let’s learn from each other and grow together as writers.

Happy writing!

Linda

 

Feature Image by congerdesign from Pixabay.

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