pro·​noun ˈprō-ˌnau̇n How to pronounce pronoun (audio)
plural pronouns : any of a small set of words (such as I, she, he, you, it, we, or they) in a language that are used as substitutes for nouns or noun phrases and whose referents are named or understood in the context
pronouns plural : the third person personal pronouns (such as he/him, she/her, and they/them) that a person goes by
What are your pronouns?
"I'm Jo, my pronouns are she/her." "I'm Jade, my pronouns are they/them."
… many people with nonbinary genders use "they" and "their" pronouns, although language and gender expression vary widely.Lucy Brisbane

Did you know?

What is a pronoun?

A pronoun is a word that is used instead of a noun or noun phrase. Pronouns refer to either a noun that has already been mentioned or to a noun that does not need to be named specifically.

The most common pronouns are the personal pronouns, which refer to the person or people speaking or writing (first person), the person or people being spoken to (second person), or other people or things (third person). Like nouns, personal pronouns can function as either the subject of a verb or the object of a verb or preposition: "She likes him, but he loves her." Most of the personal pronouns have different subject and object forms:

pronoun table

There are a number of other types of pronouns. The interrogative pronouns—particularly what, which, who, whom, and whose—introduce questions for which a noun is the answer, as in "Which do you prefer?"

Possessive pronouns refer to things or people that belong to someone. The main possessive pronouns are mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, and theirs.

The four demonstrative pronounsthis, that, these, and those—distinguish the person or thing being referred to from other people or things; they are identical to the demonstrative adjectives.

Relative pronouns introduce a subordinate clause, a part of a sentence that includes a subject and verb but does not form a sentence by itself. The main relative pronouns are that, which, who, whom, what, and whose.

Reflexive pronouns refer back to the subject of a sentence or clause and are formed by adding -self or -selves to a personal pronoun or possessive adjective, as in myself, herself, ourselves, and itself.

Indefinite pronouns, such as everybody, either, none, and something, do not refer to a specific person or thing, and typically refer to an unidentified or unfamiliar person or thing.

The words it and there can also be used like pronouns when the rules of grammar require a subject but no noun is actually being referred to. Both are usually used at the beginning of a sentence or clause, as in "It was almost noon" and "There is some cake left." These are sometimes referred to as expletives.

Examples of pronoun in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Nicholson, who uses they/them pronouns, did some digging and realized many were fake. Will Oremus, Washington Post, 16 Nov. 2023 The new policy requires that any minor student’s parents automatically be notified if their child requests a change in their official or unofficial school records, which could include a name or pronoun change. Kristen Taketa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Nov. 2023 This comes just hours after Uzi — a singer and rapper who uses they/them pronouns — publicly denied ever having signed off on the gig. Thania Garcia, Variety, 15 Nov. 2023 Terán, who used they/them pronouns, had at least 57 gunshot wounds in their body, according to the DeKalb County autopsy, including in the hands, torso, legs and head. Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News, 10 Nov. 2023 Some Catholic dioceses, smaller districts of the church, have enacted policies that prohibit students and workers at Catholic institutions from using the pronouns that match transgender students’ identities. Kelsey Ables, Washington Post, 9 Nov. 2023 Flores, who uses the pronouns they and them, was not available for comment Tuesday. Andrew J. Campa, Los Angeles Times, 25 Oct. 2023 The bathroom restriction law is one of several pieces of legislation signed by DeSantis in May restricting LGBTQ lives and spaces, including gender-affirming treatments for minors, drag shows, and which pronouns can be used in schools. Carlos Suarez, CNN, 19 Oct. 2023 The horror in these novels is the cruelty of nature—her indifference to human aims, her perpetual cycle of change and decay—a subject that, like the use of the feminine pronoun, has been relegated to history and is plausible only in the realm of historical fiction. Meghan O’Gieblyn, The New York Review of Books, 12 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pronoun.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin pronomin-, pronomen, from pro- for + nomin-, nomen name — more at pro-, name

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pronoun was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near pronoun

Cite this Entry

“Pronoun.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


pro·​noun ˈprō-ˌnau̇n How to pronounce pronoun (audio)
: a word that is used as a substitute for a noun

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