Pronouns: what they are, types, functions and examples

Pronoun is word class variable whose purpose is to replace or determine (accompany) a noun. They rank on the basis of these roles. The one that replaces the name is called noun pronoun, and what determines (accompanies) it is the adjective pronoun. In addition, they are subclassified into straight case personal, tonic and unstressed oblique personal, treatment, relative, possessive, demonstrative, indefinite and interrogative.

noun pronouns x adjective pronouns

The noun pronouns, when substituting the noun, exercise the same syntactic function as the noun would (nucleus of the subject, of the direct or indirect object, of the noun complement, etc.). Look:

João passed the entrance exam." (“John” is the core of the subject)

He passed the entrance exam." (by replacing “João” with the straight pronoun “he”, this becomes the nucleus of the subject)

"I like João.” ("John" is the core of the indirect object)

"I like from him.” (by replacing “John” with the stressed oblique pronoun “he”, this becomes the nucleus of the indirect object)

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You adjective pronouns they always come together with the noun to which they refer, so they always have a syntactic function of adjunct adjunct. Look:

My books are gone." (the possessive pronoun “meus” is an adjective pronoun and serves as an adjunct adjunct to the nucleus of the subject “books”)

"Used to watch This one film." (the demonstrative pronoun “this” is an adjective pronoun and plays the role of adjunct adjunct of the indirect object nucleus “film”)

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classification of pronouns

It is the pronouns that determine the person inflection of the sentence.

1st person: the being who manifests (speaks) in the communicative process; the enunciator; the announcer; the sender.

2nd person: the being who receives the message and decodes it; the receiver; the interlocutor.

3rd person: the being that is talked about in the communicative process.

They are subdivided into personal pronouns of the straight case and unstressed and tonic oblique pronouns. Look:

⇒ Straight case: they are the personal pronouns that always play the role of the subject of the clause (they never play a complementary role). Are they:

1st person: ME

2nd person: YOU

3rd person: HE/HER

1st person plural: WE

2nd person plural: YOU

3rd person plural: THEY


Me I ran for an hour.

You you ran for an hour.

He ran for an hour.

In the examples above, the pronouns me, you and he exercise the syntactic function of the subject of the verb run, which must agree in number and person with its subjects.

Therefore, constructions like “I saw he” are mistaken, since the straight personal pronoun is being used as a direct object of the verb “to see”. Straight pronouns never function as an object, always as a subject.

⇒ Unstressed obliques: all oblique pronouns have a complement function, especially as a direct or indirect object. They differ from tonics, as they are always prepositioned and do not stick to the verb by pronominal placement (proclysis, mesoclysis and enclisis). Are they:

1st person: ME

2nd person: YOU

3rd person: IF/O/A/HIM

1st person plural: US

2nd person plural: YOU

3rd person plural: IF/OS/THEM


"They gave-me the message." – The highlighted pronoun is an indirect object of the verb to give.

"Did you see-me at the stadium." – The highlighted pronoun is the direct object of the verb to see.

-O, -A, -OS, -AS X -HIM, -THEM

The other unstressed oblique pronouns may act as a direct or indirect object, indiscriminately, but the pronouns -O, -A and its variants can only act as a direct object, While it can only act as an indirect object.


"Me The I love." - The verb love is direct transitive and the pronoun The plays the role of a direct object.

"Me you I said the truth." - The verb speak it is direct and indirect transitive. It is worth saying that “the truth" is direct object and that you it is an indirect object.

It would be a serious grammatical error to reverse the use of these pronouns in formal text.

Read too: How to avoid ten common Portuguese mistakes

⇒ Oblique tonics: like the unstressed, they play a complementary role (especially a direct and indirect object), but never a subject. They have a free position in the sentence, that is why they are not attached to the verb by pronominal placement. Are they:

1st person: ME

2nd person: YOU

3rd person: SI/HE/SHE

1st person plural: US

2nd person plural: YOU

3rd person plural: SI/HE/SHE


"I like from him.”

"They spoke the truth to me.”

"They delivered the order to you.”

In the examples above, the highlighted tonic oblique pronouns play the indirect object function of their respective verbs and are all prepositioned.


- If the pronoun performs the function of subject of the verb (infinitive), it is used "for me”.

"I brought the book to me study" – The straight pronoun me is subject of the infinitive to study.

In that case, no “I brought the book for me to study”, because me is oblique pronoun, so it does not play the role of subject.

- If the pronoun does not exercise the function of subject (it's a complement), use "for me”.

"They brought this gift to me.” - In that case, me is prepositioned and acts as an indirect object of the verb they brought.

They establish a relationship of possession between an object and one of the three people in the speech. Are they:

my(s), mine(s)

your(s), your(s)

your(s), your(s)

our(s), our(s)

your(s), your(s)

your(s), your(s)

The relative pronouns, at the same time, take up the name immediately before and replace it within of an adjectival subordinate clause (a clause that "characterizes", "defines", "particulars" this Name).


First, look at the ability to resume and replace these pronouns:

take the books that are on the table.

The prayer in bold is an adjective. Note that it features books (the books are on the table) and who takes over and replaces books is the relative pronoun what.

The city TheWhere Peter goes is in the interior of Goiás.

the relative pronoun to where resume and replace City (Peter goes to town).

The girl which we talk about lives on this street.

the relative pronoun which resume and replace girl (we talk about the girl).

These are pronouns that were originally used to spatially position an object in relation to the three people in the speech, mainly in relation to the speaker and the listener. They are also used for timing (past, present, and future) and for establishing anaphoric and cataphoric references in a text.

⇒ Variable demonstrative pronouns:
1st person: this, this, these, these – indicate an object in the possession of the 1st person;
2nd person: this, this, these, these – indicate an object in the possession of the 2nd person;
3rd person: that, that, those, those – indicate an object in possession of a 3rd or distant from the 1st and 2nd person.

⇒ Invariant demonstrative pronouns: refer to things or objects indefinitely. Spatially, they have the same use as the previous ones.
1st person: this
2nd person: that
3rd person: that one

  • Pronouns treatment

They are pronouns used in dealing with people, familiarly or respectfully. Although the treatment pronoun addresses the second person, all agreement must be made with the third person. So, use YOURS when we talk to the person and YOUR when we talk about the person.

your lordship you should be concerned about your obligations and not your Your Excellency, the Governor, who is out of town.

See some examples of treatment pronouns in the table below:







not used

Your Excellency the President of the Republic,

University Dean

Your Magnificence

not used

Magnificent Rector,


Your Holiness

Does not exist

Most Holy Father,


Your Honor

Your Honor

Mr Judge,

Members of the Chamber of Deputies


Your Honor

Honorable Member,

Members of the Federal Senate


Your Honor

Mr Senator,

  • Indefinite Pronouns

They refer to the third person of the speech in an indefinite, generic and imprecise way. They may or may not be inflected in gender and number.

⇒ Variables:



Enough / Enough







A lot(s)/A lot(s)

So much (s) / So much (s)


How much(s)/Amount(s)

⇒ Invariables:









Any less

Too much


  • Interrogative pronouns

Interrogative pronouns are those used in direct or indirect interrogative sentences. Are they: which, who, which, which, how much, how much, how many, how many.

Examples of Direct Interrogative Sentences:

"What time is it?"

"Who are you?"

"What is your name?"

"How much does the book cost?"

Examples of Indirect Interrogative Sentences:

"I asked what time is it."

"Ana wants to know who you are."

"The judge questioned your name."

"Pedro asked how much the book cost."

What and who don't flex. the pronoun which is variable in number, and the pronoun how much agrees in gender with the term to which it refers.

by Jairo Beraldo
Portuguese Language Teacher

As we know, written language requires a language that conforms to the standard norm. Therefore, the following sentences belong to a more colloquial level. Rewrite them trying to adapt them to the correct form:
a – I found her walking around the mall.
b – Leave me alone, as I need to rest.
c – Do you want to go with me and my sister?
d - From now on it's all over between you and me.
e - I delivered the book today, so you can get it.

From the prayer that follows, it is proposed that an analysis be carried out and, later, answer the questions that refer to it:
Marcos, André went out with his sister!
a – Does the use of the possessive pronoun imply a duplicity of meaning? Report.
b – Rewrite it eliminating this occurrence in order to make it clear and objective.

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