Pronoun: What Is It?

Pronoun: Defined

A pronoun is a specific word that can represent or take the place of a specific noun. Pronouns behave like nouns and are core building blocks to a complete sentence. Pronouns can take on the role of subjects, direct objects, indirect objects, or objects of a preposition, taking the place of persons, places, animals, or things. The most commonly used pronouns include he, she, you, me, I, we, us, this, them, and that.

Pronouns are Essential to Writing Complete and Easy-to-Read Sentences

How Do Pronouns Increase Readability?

Pronouns increase sentence comprehension by simplifying the subject through reducing repetition. Pronouns make writing smoother and less awkward and allow a reader to focus on a verb, or action the subject is performing. Repetition caused by noun usage distracts the reader. A distracted reader is more likely to misconstrue an author's point. Replacing nouns with pronouns reduces confusion, making a sentence more concise and succinct. Concise sentences are easier to read and comprehend.

Pronouns in Action

John went to the bookstore to buy a book John needs for a book review assignment.

The sentence above is repetitive and confusing. The reader is distracted each time the known noun, John, is referenced. A distracted reader might have to read a sentence multiple times to understand the author's intention. Reduce distraction and increase comprehension by substituting a pronoun for the known noun in the example above:

John went to the bookstore to buy a book he needs for a book review assignment.

Pronouns are commonly used to take the place of subjects, direct objects, indirect objects, and objects of a preposition. A pronoun should be inserted into a sentence or paragraph when a known noun is overused. Here is another example of proper pronoun usage:

Regular Noun Usage

Erik Weihenmayer was the first blind person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. Erik's achievement is a testament to human determination and perseverance. Erik's physical disability didn't prevent Erik from achieving his goal of summiting Mt. Everest.

Pronoun Integration

Erik Weihenmayer was the first blind person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. His achievement is a testament to human determination and perseverance. His physical disability didn't prevent him from achieving his goal of summiting Mt. Everest.

Once the subject of the paragraph is established, in this case Erik Weihenmayer, a pronoun substitution reduces repetition and increases readability. The reader can focus on what the subject is doing and digest their actions.

Pronouns are among grammar's most remarkable building blocks. They simplify otherwise complex sentences, making them easier to understand. Minimal pronoun usage increases the likelihood that sentences become clunky, repetitive, and difficult to read. Properly using pronouns ensures smooth-flowing sentences, increasing reader comprehension.