Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The part of speech that substitutes for nouns or noun phrases and designates persons or things asked for, previously specified, or understood from the context.
  • n. Any of the words within this part of speech, such as he or whom.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A type of noun that refers anaphorically to another noun or noun phrase, but which cannot ordinarily be preceded by a determiner and rarely takes an attributive adjective. English examples include I, you, him, who, me, my, each other.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A word used instead of a noun or name, to avoid the repetition of it. The personal pronouns in English are I, thou or you, he, she, it, we, ye, and they.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In grammar, a word used instead of a noun to avoid the repetition of it; a demonstrative word, pointing to a person or thing, but not describing it otherwise than by designating position, direction, relation to the speaker, or the like; one of a small body of words, in Indo-European and other families of language, coming from a few roots, different from those from which come in general verbs and nouns, and having the office of designating rather than describing: they are believed to have borne an important part in the development of inflective structure in language.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a function word that is used in place of a noun or noun phrase

Etymologies

Late Middle English pronoun, pronoune, partial translation of Latin prōnōmen (translation of Greek antōnumiā, interchange of names, pronoun) : prō-, pro- + nōmen, name, noun; see noun.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
pro- +‎ noun, modeled on Middle French pronom, from Latin pronomen, itself a calque of Ancient Greek ἀντωνυμία (antōnumia). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Finally, by means of the pupil's former knowledge of the subjective and pronoun functions, the teacher assures himself that the pupil appreciates clearly the _pronoun_ function of the word _who_.

    Ontario Normal School Manuals: Science of Education

  • When the word _ever_ or _soever_ is annexed to a relative pronoun, the combination is called a _compound pronoun_; as, _whoever_ or _whosoever, whichever_ or _whichsoever, whatever_ or _whatsoever_.

    English Grammar in Familiar Lectures

  • A pronoun that connects an _adjective clause_ with a substantive is called a _relative pronoun_, and the substantive for which the relative pronoun stands is called its _antecedent_.

    Latin for Beginners

  • The formal pronoun is very, very common in Colombia, is used even among family members and when I was growing up, was almost the exclusive pronoun used.

    Fateful Realizations of the Unexamined Life « Unknowing

  • The fixing of a key-speaker pronoun is the starting point for portraying perceptions and from this various narrative patterns take shape.

    A Discussion With Gao Xingjian

  • At the Faithworkers Branch of Unite annual general meeting some of my colleagues have reported stories of the retaliatory attacks in such circumstances. the clash between the singular subject and the plural reflexive pronoun is stunning.

    Linguistic inclusion and the clergy

  • But in the second stanza, descriptive of the self (and where the first-person pronoun is first-introduced), these harmonies dissolve, and the poem becomes a syncopated lament, an untimely moan:

    The 'Power of Sound' and the Great Scheme of Things: Wordsworth Listens to Wordsworth

  • To me, that's one way to find out if a tutor knows a pronoun from the same word acting as an adjective.

    Private tutor

  • In the subject of grammar, for instance, a first lesson on the pronoun may be viewed as a conceptual lesson, since the child gains an idea of a class of words, as indicated by the new general term pronoun, this term representing the result of a conceptual process.

    Ontario Normal School Manuals: Science of Education

  • On the other hand, a pronoun is a way of not being precise about such things as location, emergence, faith, hope, or love:

    Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy

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Comments

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  • Studies show (per U.S.News & World Report, July 16, 2007 p.29) that women "tend to rely on pronouns like 'I' and 'he' while men tend to favor articles such as 'a' and 'the'...", i.e., men talk more about things and women talk more about people.

    July 11, 2007

  • Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.

    January 25, 2007