Pronouns and determiners and writing a play

Pronouns and Determiners are word classes in which we find some of the most common and useful words in English. The difference between them is that a pronoun is used in a place of a noun and a determiner is followed by a noun (or by an adjective, then by a noun).

  1. Pronouns come in different groups including:
  • personal pronouns with different forms that you can find set out in table 4.2 below
  • indefinite pronouns (someone, something, anyone, anything, no one, nothing, everyone, everything)
  • relative pronouns (who, which, that)
  • interrogative pronouns (who? what? which?)
  1. Determiners include these group:
  • articles ( the definite article the, the indefinite article a which comes before a consonant and an which comes before a vowel)
  • possessives (see table 4.2)

However there are other groups which can function either as pronoun or as determiners namely:

  • numerals (one, two, three e.t.c, first, second, third e.t.c.)
  • demonstratives (this, that; these, those)
  • quantifiers (some, much, many, more, most, all, both)

Study these examples with much:

He doesn’t have much (determiner) hope

Much (pronoun) is expected of you

Table 4.2 Personal Pronouns/ Determiners

1st singularIMeMyMineMyself
2nd singularYouYouYourYoursYourself
3rd singularHeHimHisHisHimself
3rd singularSheHerHerHersHerself
3rd singularItItItsItsItself
1st pluralWeUsOurOursOurselves
2nd pluralYouYouYourYoursYourself
3rd pluralTheyThemTheirTheirsThemselves

Reflexive pronouns should not be confused with reciprocal pronouns each other (referring to two people) and one another (more than two).

Compare these sentences

  • Oke and Tony blamed themselves for losing the goat (Oke blamed himself and Tony blamed himself)
  • Oke and Tony blamed each other for losing the goat (Oke blamed Tony and Tony blamed Oke)

Problems with quantifiers

Many students misuse quantifiers. Note the following:

Most: Use this when you want to say ‘nearly all’, NOT when the right word is ‘many’

E.g. Most of my class mates own a mobile phone (This means that if their number is 50, at least 40 of them own a mobile phone – but not if only 30 own one)

A few/Few: Use these quantifiers with countable nouns in the plural only. Both mean ‘a small number’, but while A few is positive in tone, Few is negative. For example

A few students have registered for Physics (That’s good)

Few students have registered for Physics (What a pity)

A little/Little:  They behave just like a few/few but are used with uncountable nouns.

Writing a Play

It is quite sufficient to choose some very small incident or anecdote. You should probably only attempt this topic if you have a brainwave – a sudden, very good idea of what your play could be about. Make your dialogue as natural as possible – but take care that it does not  become too long or too boring.

When you are writing  play, it is perfectly acceptable to make up a relevant subtitle. Try to brainstorm and then draw some kind of outline plan.


Possible Plan: My part in the school play

Paragraph 1

Introduction. Previous dramatic experience; reasons why I went in for the play

Paragraph 2

What happened at the audition: how i felt before, during and after. My feelings about my part.

Paragraph 3

The rehearsals: what happened; how i got on with the producer/other actors

Paragraph 4

The dress rehearsal: feeling of nervousness, etc. Worry about forgetting lines. Things that went wrong

Paragraph 5

The First Night……

Possible Plan 2: My outing to see Shehu Umar

Paragraph 1

Introduction: Why I wanted to see the play Shehu Umar, and who I went with

Paragraph 2

Arrival in the hall; where I sat; What I saw in the programme; gradual build-up of excitement

Paragraph 3 At last the curtain rose!  Brief description of what the play is about

Paragraph 4 Brief account of how the play was performed: the set, the actors, the costumes, the music

Paragraph 5 After the play was over


  1. What is the difference between pronouns and determiners?
  2. Pronouns come in different groups. List and explain them.
  3. Instruction: use the words from table 4.2 to fill the gaps in the following scene from a play

The characters F- Franca, D- Dora, G – a Guard YM – a Young Man

F: Look, __’re lucky! The train hasn’t gone yet! Hurry up, Dora, __ will go without __!

D: __ can’t run

G: __ tickets, please. Show __ tickets.

D: Here’s __

F: Oh, where’s __? __ can’t find __. Please, let __ through

G: __ ticket, __ ticket

F: Oh please, just help __! __ know __ always pass this way

D: There goes the whistle! Hurry up, Franca. Look, the platform’s deserted

G: __ can show __ ticket at __ destination, but __ must find __

F: Oh, thanks! Now, Dora, run!

Later inside the train, they work through one compartment after another looking in vain for two empty seats together

D: There just aren’t any. __’d better just stand here near the door

F: (still searching for her lost ticket) How could __ have lost __ ticket when I bought __ at the booking office just now?

D: __’re always losing things. __’m glad __ don’t have a brain like __.

A young man in a tie approaches the girls on his way from the rear of the train. He speaks first to Dora.

YM: Oh, are __ the owner of this ticket? __ must have dropped __ near the barrier. The guard asked __ to give __ to __.

D: (Indicating Franca) It’s not __, it’s __. __’s the careless one.

F: Thank __ sir.

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