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Learning Pronouns

Lesson on Subject, Object, Possessive and Demonstrative Pronouns

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The use of pronouns often seeps into the lessons in a number of different aspects: Subject pronouns are discussed when forming and conjugating sentences in the various tenses, object pronouns are introduced through questions words such as 'who' or by a discussion of transitive and intransitive verbs, possessive pronouns and adjectives also get thrown into the mix by discussing the question word 'whose', or when pointing out how the possessive adjective modifies the noun. I find it helpful to to wrap all these together in a single lesson, as well as the demonstrative pronouns 'this', 'that', 'these' and 'those' to help students understand the relationship between the various forms.

The lesson comes in two parts: First, students review, identify and create a pronoun chart. Next, students begin to use the pronouns to refer to objects that they have placed on a table. Finally, once students have become relatively comfortable with using personal pronouns, they can add demonstrative pronouns to the mix. Here is an outline of the lesson. This lesson can be used as a means of review, or, as an introduction to the various uses of pronouns (and the possessive adjective) for exceptionally motivated classes.

Aim: Develop a deeper understanding of personal and demonstrative pronouns

Activity: Chart fill-in, personal object questioning

Level: Beginning to lower-intermediate

Outline:

Reviewing the Forms with a Chart

  • Write four sentences on the board each containing a different type of pronoun (or possessive adjective), preferably using the same person. For example:

    He has an interesting book.
    Give him that interesting book.
    That's his interesting book.
    That interesting book is his.

  • Point out the grammatical differences in form between each of these forms. If students have never studied these forms before in an overview, print out this pronoun chart or write on the board.
  • Using the same sentence with minor variations, go through each pronoun and possessive form for various subjects. Ask students to provide the correct change for each sentence as a class.
  • Once students have become comfortable with these changes, ask them to fill out the first chart providing the correct pronoun or adjective form.

Understanding Demonstrative Pronouns

  • Now that the explicit learning has been accomplished, it's time for some fun. Place a table at the front or in the middle of the classroom.
  • Ask each student to provide an object or objects on the table.
  • Begin asking questions using the objects. At this point it is also a good idea to introduce the idea of demonstrative pronouns. First model the questions and answers: For example:

    Teacher: Whose is this backpack here? - That is Marco's backpack there.
    Is this Anna's pencil? - No, that isn't Anna's pencil.
    etc.

  • Explain that 'this' and 'that' are used with single objects, 'these' and 'those' are used in the plural. Point out that 'this' and 'these' are used with objects that are 'here' (or close by), and 'that' and 'those' are used objects 'there' (or far away). Phrases such as this - here / that - there are helpful.
  • Continue asking questions with 'this' and 'these' eliciting students responses of 'these' and 'those'.

Real World Task to Tie it All Together

  • Ask students to come forward and choose an item which does not belong to them. Each student should create four sentences about the object(s) they choose. For example:

    This is Anna's pencil.
    She has a pencil.
    It is her pencil.
    The pencil is hers.
    I give her the pencil.
    (student walks over and hands the item back)

  • Feel free to model this a few times until the students understand what is expected.
  • Repeat with different personal objects. The activity of getting up and retrieving items while using the various forms will help students acquire the grammar through 'real world' application.

Pronoun Chart

Subject Pronoun Object Pronoun Possessive Adjective Possessive Pronoun
I
you
his
hers
its none
we
your
theirs
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