The pronoun system is a real area of difficulty to many. Children developing language normally find it hard as well. So a little one may say, ‘Mummy, can I see you?’ when it is clear from the context that he means to mean ‘Mummy, can you see me?’
Looking at early narrative skills, one of the features that can be noted is ‘referencing’. This means the accurate use of pronouns – not only by ‘sex’ but also following the rules of sequence of words. Many children will use he but they are not talking about the last male character mentioned as the rules dictate. So the story gets very unclear. Or children try to tell news and launch in with lots of pronouns that have no connection to named people.
It’s not only the he/she/it/we/you/they set, we also need to know about what happens to those words in a different place in a sentence. Why in English does he have him/his when she only has her? What about the pesky apostrophes learners (and others) really want to insert into the ours/yours/theirs etc.? (Tip: think of his which has no apostrophe and apply this rule to the other possessive pronouns.)
If you use symbol software you can add the pronoun symbols OR (to aid comprehension) you can change the symbol above the pronoun to match a character’s name e.g. put the king symbol above the he or him that refers to the King.
Below are some of my resources on TES which provide opportunities for working on pronouns. The first two are the most specific, but the others would also be useful (and many of the others not listed here). Symbols are used to help comprehension of the pronouns in many cases.
Pronoun1 PRIMARY READING FOR MEANING (II) – NON-CONTENT WORDS Illustrated with PCS or Widgit symbols. Sets of pictures with text captions which include many of the ‘little words’ that affect meaning. Captions can be read by child or adult as appropriate. The child must choose the correct picture to label. The choice he makes will help the adult to check comprehension.
Pronoun3 PICTURES FOR LANG WORK Symbols (c) Widgit Software 2010. A selection of pictures chosen for their usefulness in making up good sentences to include who/doing what/where information and for asking questions to elicit this information. Could also be used for discussion starters and EAL.
Pronoun6 INFERENCE: INFER WHAT IS MISSING FROM SEQUENCES 2 4-picture sequences illustrated with PCS or Widgit symbols. One picture is omitted from each sequence and the gap is intended to promote discussion and inference. The missing pictures are included for later use. Can be used for writing missing links and/or whole stories.
Pronoun7 INFERENCE: INFER WHAT IS MISSING FROM PICTURE SEQUENCES 1 4-picture sequences illustrated with PCS or Widgit symbols. One picture is omitted from each sequence and the gap is intended to promote discussion and inference. The missing pictures are included for later use. Can be used for writing missing links and/or whole stories.
Pronoun9 QUESTIONS AND SENTENCES ABOUT PICTURES A set of ClipArt pictures and word cards. The activity is to ask questions in a barrier game and select word cards to match the replies and build sentences. Other suggested activities plus thoughts about asking questions orally or with worksheets to target different developmental levels.
Pronoun10 READING 4-WORD SENTENCES (EXTRA EARLY PRACTICE) 12 ‘books’ with ClipArt illustrations and 4 words per page chosen from a list of 48 words. Please see separate guide (Easy reading vocabulary) for description and wordlist illustrated with PCS or Widgit symbols to know if the resource will suit your work. Plain text wordlist also given.
Pronoun11 RECALL, RETELL STORIES 12 pictures with 3 sentences to be read out to make a ‘story’ as the child sees the picture. You can also use the text and questions for more able children to read and answer the questions by writing. All answers available from the text.
Pronoun12 SENTENCES: WHEN/PRONOUN/ACTION ACTIVITIES Cards to sequence and say sentences of graded complexity to include a when-phrase with days or months, a who-pronoun (he/she/they), and a verb. Virtually no reading required. Practise present/future/past.
Pronoun13 SPEAKING AND LISTENING PLUS A set of double-sided cards with pictures one side and mixed questions on the other for the adult to ask. Designed to give practice with responding appropriately to different question words, and picture description. Pictures can also be used as a prompt for writing sentences, and for pairing up with given sentences as a reading for meaning task.
Pronoun14 WORDS ABOUT WORDS A mind-map (designed using Widgit’s Communicate Ideas) and a table showing some of the grammatical names of types of words and their functions.