Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives | GMAT Grammar Tutorial

GMAT grammar topics seem simple, as they are based on basic rules you studied in school. However, the GMAT verbal section is precisely where international GMAT test takers and non-native English speakers stumble.

Rather than taking the easy (and lazy) route of skipping the simple GMAT grammar rules to focus on more advanced test prep material, spend some time understanding the building blocks of the game starting with nouns, pronouns and adjectives.


In simple terms, a noun is the name of a person, place or thing.

This could either be a proper noun like Joe, Jessy, Canada, Cambridge or a common noun like pencil, computer, animal, city, girl.

Common nouns include:

  • The collective noun which is the name of a group (of persons, animals or things) as in herd, team, audience, fleet.
  • The abstract noun is the opposite of concrete noun. It is either the name of a feeling (fear, anger, pride, curiosity), quality (kindness, patience, courage, loyalty), ideas or experiences (information, work).

Nouns come under the following two categories:

  • countable noun – that can be counted
  • Examples:
    One bag –> Hundred bags
    One man –> Several men

  • uncountable nouns – that cannot be counted
  • Example: Salt, water, rice, cement, knowledge, lightning, money

    Uncountable nouns are in the form of an entity that cannot be separated, and hence they do not have a plural form. They cannot be used with ‘a’, ‘an’ or numbers.



Pronouns are used in a sentence in place of a noun in order to avoid repetition.

Types of Pronouns

You’ll come across the following types of pronouns: Personal, Possessive, Reflexive, Emphatic, Relative, Indefinite, Demonstrative, Interrogative. Quite a mouthful! Let’s look at each one of them.

1. Personal pronoun

Personal pronouns may be used in different ways:

A. First person personal pronoun
Subject pronoun Object pronoun
I (singular) me
We (plural) us

Examples of first person pronouns:
a) I have a lot to do. Can Tanya help me?
b) We are going to meet Aunt Angela. John can accompany us.

A subject pronoun works as a subject in a sentence whereas the object pronoun does the work of an object.

B. Second person pronoun

a) You (subject pronoun) have to eat fast.
b) Daniel can help you (object pronoun).

C. Third person pronoun
Subject pronoun Object pronoun
She her
He him
It it
They them

Examples of third person pronouns:
a) They came here. Tina spoke to them.
b) It is an easy assignment. The trainees will manage it.

2. Possessive pronouns

They are used to show possession or ownership.

First person: Mine, ours

Second person: yours

Third person: his, hers, theirs, its

Examples of possessive pronouns:
a) The car in the garage is hers.
b) The bag on the table is not theirs.

3. Reflexive pronoun

This is used in sentences where the action of the ‘subject’ affects itself.

Singular form: Myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself

Plural form: Ourselves, yourselves, themselves

Examples of reflexive pronouns:
a) Don’t play with the scissors. You (subject) might hurt yourself (reflexive pronoun).
b) The little boy (subject) enjoyed himself (reflexive pronoun).

4. Emphatic pronoun

The reflexive pronoun should not be confused with the emphatic pronoun which is used to create emphasis. The list remains the same in both emphatic and reflexive pronoun.

Examples of emphatic pronouns:
a) I myself cleaned the room.
b) She herself admitted that she was wrong.

5. Relative pronoun

This is Mary. She works in a travel agency.

a) This is Mary who works in a travel agency.
b) The book which you got from the library is torn.

Relative pronoun serves the purpose of joining the two sentences as seen in the first example. It shows the relation of the noun to a group of words that follow.

Who, whose, whom are used for persons; that and which for things.

6. Indefinite pronoun

The pronouns – ‘neither, either, many, few, several, some, anyone, everyone, nobody, somebody, everybody, anything, nothing’ are the indefinite pronouns which do not specifically replace any noun.

a) Anyone can participate in the contest.
b) Few could perform the difficult task.

7. Demonstrative pronoun

The demonstrative pronouns ‘this, that, these, those’ are used to point out to an object.

a) This is a really comfortable chair.
b) These are the books from the library.

8. Interrogative pronoun

These pronouns are used to ask questions about a person or object.

Who, whom, whose, which – used for persons

What, which – used for things


Adjectives describe nouns and provide additional information about it.

Examples of adjectives:
Some food, five chairs, no mistake, third rank, great work, enough water


Adjective phrase

The adjective phrase refers to a group of words that are used to describe the noun/pronoun and does the work of an adjective.

Here are examples of adjective phrases beginning with prepositions (prepositional phrase):

a) Serena is a teacher with good experience.
b) Jack is a man of few words.
c) The person in the car is my uncle.

Following are some examples of adjective phrases used as participial phrases:

a) Ryan, having won the competition went to collect his prize.
b) We saw Peter walking towards our house.
c) Moving quickly, we managed to reach the garden in five minutes.
d) Worried about her son’s future, Nita decided to seek advice from an expert.

Adjective phrases can also be used as a cluster of adjectives occurring together.

a) She was wearing a short dark blue
b) The soft brand new mattress has replaced the old worn-out

Adjective clause

a) The book which I have belongs to Henry.
b) Maria who is a professor teaches in an engineering college.

In these examples, the adjective clause is used to describe the nouns ‘book’ and ‘Maria’. These usually begin with a relative pronoun – ‘who, whom, whose’ (shows possession) for humans and ‘that, which’ for things.

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