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11+ & KS2 English: What are pronouns?

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

What are pronouns?

Pronouns are used in the place of a noun or noun phrase. This helps to avoid repetition for a word or phrase that has already been used!

A pronoun always needs to perfectly match the number, gender and person of the noun or noun phrase which it is replacing.

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This means that the other words in the sentence do not need to change at all when a pronoun is used instead of a noun.

The pronouns that students need to know for the 11+ are:

  • personal pronouns
  • possessive pronouns
  • reflexive pronouns
  • demonstrative pronouns
  • relative pronouns

We will explore each of these in more detail below.

Personal pronouns

What are personal pronouns?

Personal pronouns stand in for a person or thing that has already been mentioned.

E.g. I hope I can get my car fixed soon. It has not worked for a while.

Johan and Bob have always enjoyed playing tennis. They are both brilliant at it.

It‘ and ‘they‘ are the personal pronouns in these examples.


Personal subject pronouns

These are:
I, you, he/she/it, we, you, they

We use personal subject pronouns when the noun that is being replaced is the subject of a sentence.

E.g. She was delighted to hear the news.

They wanted to find out the answers to the quiz.

She‘ and ‘they‘ are the personal subject pronouns in these examples.

Personal object pronouns


These are:
Me, you, him/her/it, us, you, them

We use personal object pronouns when the noun that is being replaced is the object of a sentence.

E.g. Charles gave him the newspaper.

Saira’s doughnuts were so popular. She had sold all of them.

Him‘ and ‘them‘ are personal object pronouns.

Possessive Pronouns

What are possessive pronouns?

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They are used to tell us who owns or possesses something.

Like all other pronouns, they replace a noun or noun phrase.

I have found two jumpers. I think this one is yours and this one is mine.

Helen could not believe that the winning drawing in the competition was really hers.

The possessive pronouns are:

mine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs 

What is the difference between a possessive pronoun and a possessive determiner?

A possessive pronoun tells us who owns something and also replaces a noun.

Bob said that I mistakenly took his book yesterday. I don’t think that it is his.

A possessive determiner also tells us who owns something, but it only introduces a noun.

The possessive determiners are:

my, your, his, her, our, their

James finally finished reading his book last week.

Remember to not get mixed up between the two!

While pronouns replace nouns, determiners are used to introduce them.

Reflexive Pronouns

What are reflexive pronouns?

Reflexive pronouns always end in either:

‘-self’ (in the singular)


‘-selves’ (in the plural)

These are suffixes.

Present Left


Jeremy gave himself a pat on the back for getting full marks.

Julie has hurt herself while playing rounders.

Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject and the object of a sentence are exactly the same.

We use reflexive pronouns to talk about the subject of a sentence without repeating this subject.

Demonstrative Pronouns

What are demonstrative pronouns?

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Demonstrative pronouns are used to describe whether an object is close by or far away. They take the place of a noun or noun phrase that is already known to us.

For example:

We need to get some fresh carrots as we have had these for ages.

They must match!

Demonstrative pronouns need to match the number and distance from us (close by or far away) of the noun that it is replacing.

A mug of tea close by would be referred to as ‘this’, whereas a mug over the other side of the kitchen would be called ‘that’.

How many demonstrative pronouns are there?

There are four in total.

The singular demonstrative pronouns are ‘this’ (for an object nearby) and ‘that’ (for an object further away).

The plural demonstrative pronouns are ‘these’ (for objects nearby) and ‘those’ (for objects further away).


For example:

Is that a new cactus over there? I have not seen that before.

‘That’ is a singular demonstrative pronoun for an object far away.

I have tried on those shoes but I haven’t yet tried on these.

‘These’ is a plural demonstrative pronoun for objects close by.

What's the difference between a demonstrative pronoun and a demonstrative determiner?

‘This’, ‘that’, ‘these’ and ‘those’ are used as demonstrative determiners when they come before a noun.

This pizza is absolutely delicious.

In this sentence ‘this’ is a demonstrative determiner (also just known as a ‘demonstrative’). It gives information about which ‘pizza’ we are talking about.

The demonstrative determiner here is being used to introduce the ‘pizza’.

Your shoes are really nice. Where did you get these?

In this sentence ‘these’ is a demonstrative pronoun. It is replacing the noun phrase ‘your shoes’.

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While pronouns replace nouns, determiners are used to introduce them.

Relative Pronouns

What are relative pronouns used for?

Present right

Relative pronouns are used to introduce relative clauses.

They connect a noun or pronoun to a clause. Relative clauses describe or modify nouns.

This all sounds very confusing and obscure. What does this mean?

When we would like to connect the noun ‘cake’ to a clause which gives more information about it, such as how it ‘was made by my aunt’, then we need a word to connect the two parts.

This is where a relative pronoun comes in handy.

Yesterday I ate a delicious chocolate cake that was made by my aunt.

The word ‘that’ here is a relative pronoun that connects the noun phrase ‘a delicious chocolate cake’ with the relative clause ‘that was made by my aunt.’

Relative pronouns always start a relative clause

Why are relative pronouns helpful?

Relative pronouns are useful for two main reasons:

  • To give more information about a person or thing. (This is the case in the ‘cake’ example above.)
  • To make it clearer which person or thing we are referring to.

Where should relative pronouns be placed in a sentence?

Relative pronouns always come straight after the noun or pronoun that they modify and just before the rest of the clause.

Let’s take a look at the example above again.

Yesterday I ate a delicious chocolate cake that was made by my aunt.

The relative pronoun ‘that’ comes directly after the noun phrase ‘a delicious chocolate cake’ and begins the relative clause ‘that was made by my aunt.’

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Relative pronouns always start a relative clause

Pronouns in the 11+ exams

Examberry Papers 11 plus english practice papers pack 4 download cover image

Questions on pronouns can often come up in 11+ English exams.

Try our expert 11+ English practice papers for excellent preparation!

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