How to Teach Pronouns

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Teaching pronouns is an important part of any beginning level English curriculum. It's important to teach pronoun usage during the early stages when students are learning basic sentence construction. The opportune moment to teach pronouns comes after basic sentences with 'be' and some simple sentences with the present simple. At this point, students should be able to identify various parts of speech - at least basic verbs, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs.

Take this as a starting point to explore the role of subjects, objects, and possession as you introduce pronouns and possessive adjectives.

Introducing Pronouns

Subject Pronouns: Start by Using What Students Already Know

After a basic understanding of the verb 'to be' and some other simple sentences has been acquired, begin introducing various pronouns by reviewing what they have already learned. I find it best to start by asking students to give me some examples of nouns and verbs. With this is mind here's a short exercise to help students begin to learn subject pronouns.

  • Write a few basic sentences on the board making sure to use full names or objects.
  • Next, Write both singular and plural subjects with proper names and with objects.

Mary is an excellent teacher.
The computer is expensive.
Peter and Tom are students at this school.
The apples are very good.

Change to:

She is an excellent teacher.
It is expensive.
They are students at this school.
They are very good.

  • Ask students which words have been replaced by new words.
  • Explain that pronouns replace proper names and nouns such as 'David', 'Anna and Susan', 'the book', etc.
  • Ask students which pronouns would replace different names and objects. Make sure to switch between singular and plural subject pronouns. 

At this point, students will be able to produce subject pronouns quite easily without actually knowing they are subject pronouns.

Don't worry them about grammar names at this point, but move on to object pronouns.

 

Object Pronouns: Point to Sentence Position

Next on the list of pronouns to introduce are object pronouns. I find it easiest to introduce these pronouns by pointing to sentence position in basic sentences.

  • Put up columns for subject pronouns and object pronouns  and discuss the placement of whether the pronoun examples you write on the board come before the verb or after the verb. 
  • Once they recognize the differences, explain that object pronouns generally follow verbs. Also point out that subject pronouns begin sentences. Once again, write examples on the board with proper names and full nouns to show the difference between singular and plural object pronouns, as well as the difference between objects and people.
  • Ask students to identify which words have been replaced and which pronouns replace them

I bought a book yesterday.
Mary gave Peter a present.
The parents drove the children to school.
Tim picked up the soccer balls.

Change to:

I bought it yesterday.
Mary gave him a present.
The parents drove them to school.
Tim picked them up.

  • Ask students to help you with further replacements, just as you have done with subject pronouns.
  • Put up two columns: One with subject pronouns and the other with object pronouns. Leave one type blank.
  • Ask students to copy the chart filling in the blanks with the missing subject or object pronouns. 
  • Correct as a class.

Possessive Pronouns and Adjectives: Rounding out the Chart

Finally, introduce possessive pronouns and adjectives in a similar manner. Write a few examples on the board, and then ask students to help you fill in an expanded chart including subject and object pronouns, as well as adding possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives

Pronoun Chart
Subject PronounObject PronounPossessive AdjectivePossessive Pronoun
Imemymine
youyouyour

yours

hehimhishis
sheherherhers
itititsits
weusourours
youyouyouryours
theythemtheirtheirs

My book is on the table. It is mine.
Their bags are in the hall. They are theirs.
Ask students to complete similar sentences with you while you fill in the chart.

It's important to introduce these two forms together to help students understand the use of the possessive adjective WITH nouns and possessive pronoun WITHOUT nouns. Comparing the two in two sentences does the job well.

At this point, students will have been introduced to pronouns and possessive adjectives, as well as gained insight into sentence structure. Following you will find exercises and activities that you can use with students to continue to practice and explore pronouns.

Exercises and Activities

Use this learning pronouns lesson plan to follow along with the details outlined in this guide on how to teach pronouns. Print this pronoun types page out for reference in your classroom.

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Your Citation
Beare, Kenneth. "How to Teach Pronouns." ThoughtCo, Jun. 12, 2017, thoughtco.com/how-to-teach-pronouns-1212115. Beare, Kenneth. (2017, June 12). How to Teach Pronouns. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-teach-pronouns-1212115 Beare, Kenneth. "How to Teach Pronouns." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-teach-pronouns-1212115 (accessed November 24, 2017).