When the court next assembled, the Judge read aloud all the nouns and articles on the lists, casting a stern glance at little Article at each a, an, or the that he came to, in order to show that they were put in as a punishment for Article's impudent behavior the day before. Poor little Article said nothing, and no one having objected to any of the words, the Judge said: "Mr. Noun and Article, since no one finds fault with the words that you claim, I declare them to be lawfully yours. Now, stand aside, and let Mr. Pronoun come forward."
Mr. Noun and Mr. Pronoun

At these words Mr. Pronoun stood before the Judge. He is something like Mr. Noun, only he is thinner, and looks as if he worked harder.

"Mr. Pronoun?" said Serjeant Parsing, standing up to begin his questioning.

Mr. Pronoun bowed.

"Why are you called Pronoun, sir, and what words do you possess?"

"I am called Pronoun, because I often do the work for my rich neighbor, Mr. Noun. Pro means instead of, so pronoun means instead of noun, and my words are called pronouns because they stand instead of nouns. Mr. Noun, though he is so rich, does not like to have his words used over and over again—he says it wears them out; so to save trouble I put in my little words, which do just as well."

"And you are not afraid of your words being worn out?" asked the Judge.

"O dear no! my lord," answered Pronoun. "I think my words are like the iron rails on the railway—the more they are used the brighter they look; it is only the idle ones that get rusty and spoilt. And it is not many of my words that get rusty, I can tell you, my lord. Serjeant Parsing knows how he was one day trying to make sense of Dr. Faustus without me, and what a muddle he made of it. If he will kindly repeat it now, I will show you."

So Serjeant Parsing-said:

Dr. Faustus was a good man;

Dr. Faustus whipped Dr. Faustus's scholars now and then

When Dr. Faustus whipped the scholars Dr. Faustus made the scholars dance

Out of England into France.

"There!" said Pronoun. "Let anyone try to sing that, and he will find how awkward it is. Now, if you will use my little he or his, instead of saying Dr. Faustus so often, and put them instead of scholars, it will sound much better. Just listen. Please, Mr. Parsing, say it again, and I will come in when I am wanted."

So Serjeant Parsing said: "Dr. Faustus was a good man."

"He whipped his" shouted Pronoun.

"He whipped his scholars now and then. When..."

"He whipped them," shouted Pronoun.

"When he whipped them," continued Serjeant Parsing.

"He made them dance," cried Pronoun.

"When he whipped them he made them dance," repeated Serjeant Parsing, "out of England into France."

"Ah," said the Judge, "yes! It is certainly better so. Mr. Noun's words are not used so often, and all parties are pleased. Then he, his, and them are pronouns, as they stand instead of nouns. Now tell us what other words you have, Mr. Pronoun."

"First of all, my lord, I have words which are used instead of the names of people when they are talking of themselves, such as I or me, we or us. When a person is speaking of himself he does not name his own name, but says instead, /or me. Except, indeed, very little children, who say, 'Baby wants more,' or, 'Give baby milk.' Reasonable persons say, 'I want more,' 'Give me some milk.'"

"The Queen says we in speaking of herself," remarked the Judge.

"Yes, my lord," said Pronoun, "the Queen is of course allowed to use we or us when she means only herself; but other people do not use we or us unless they mean more than one person."

"Then I or me, we or us, are the pronouns used instead of the names of people speaking of themselves, are they, Mr. Pronoun?" inquired Serjeant Parsing.

"Certainly," replied Pronoun: "and the words used instead of the names of persons you are speaking to are thou, or thee, and you. When I am speaking to you, Mr. Parsing, I say, I tell you; I do not say, I tell Serjeant Parsing."

"Quite so," answered Serjeant Parsing; "but why do you not say, I tell thee."

"Why, the fact is," replied Mr. Pronoun, "that thou and thee really stand for one person only, and you stands for more than one. But long ago people took it into their heads to fancy that it would be very polite to talk to one person as if he were at least as good as two. It is a very vulgar thing to be only one person, but to be two people rolled into one would be very grand indeed. So when a man was talking to a grand neighbor he called him you instead of thou, and the grand neighbor was so much pleased that it came to be the fashion to say you to everyone, and my poor little thou and thee were quite set aside."

"And are they never used now?" said Serjeant Parsing.

"O yes, they are used," said Mr. Pronoun; "but as people neglected them in former days, I won't have them used in common now. You is quite good enough for everyday talk."

"Well," said Serjeant Parsing, "you have shown that I or me, we or us, thou or thee, and you, are all your words. Have you any others?"

"Plenty more," answered Pronoun. "I have he, she, it, and they, to stand instead of persons or things you are talking about.

Tom took Maria on the ice;

It broke, and she fell in;

He got a rope, and in a trice

He pulled her out again.

If they had both been drowned, you know,

Folks would have said, "I told you so."

"There it stands for ice, and she for Maria, and he for Tom, and they for Tom and Maria together. So you see clearly that he, she, it, and they are pronouns."

"I do not think anyone could deny it," said Serjeant Parsing. "Have you any other words?"

"O yes, there are plenty more words that stand instead of nouns. My, thy, his, our, your, their, which are used to show that something belongs to the person these words stand Instead of. Just as instead of saying Dr. Faustus's scholars, we said his scholars; and as in speaking to you, my lord, I should not say Judge Grammar's wig, but your wig."

"You need not say anything about my wig," said the Judge, rather testily. "Mind your own words, sir, and tell us what others you have."

"I have who and which," replied Pronoun. "Instead of saying, 'I met a man, the man had no eyes,' you say, 'I met a man who had no eyes; "so my little who saves Mr. Noun's man. Instead of saying, 'I will tell you a tale, a tale was told to me,' you can say, 'I will tell you a tale which was told to me;' so which stands instead of tale.'"

"We understand," said the Judge. "No more of your tales now, if you please. You have no more words, I suppose?"

"Indeed I have, my lord. This and that, these and those, are pronouns. For when you say, 'Look at this,' you mean a picture, or a sum, or anything else that this may happen to stand for; and when you say, 'Take that,' that stands for a halfpenny, or a kick, or anything else you may be giving at the time. And if you sing to a child—if your lordship ever does sing—which does not seem very likely..."

"Mind your words, sir," said the Judge, again. "If we sing what?"

"If you sing 'This is the way the lady goes,' then this stands for the jogging up and down of my knee, the way the lady goes."

"Really, Mr. Pronoun," said the Judge, "you are very childish. The Schoolroom-shire people are quite ashamed of you. We shall ask for no more of your words today, for I suppose, after all, they are easy enough to find out."

"All words that stand instead of nouns belong to me," said Pronoun; "but they are not quite so easy to find out as you suppose. Those that stand instead of persons, like I, thou, he, we, you, they, anyone can find out. I have told you about a good many others, and if Serjeant Parsing wishes to discover the rest for himself..."

"He does, sir," said the Judge, who was getting very tired and hungry. "You may go. I will only ask you to assist our Schoolroom-shire friends in making the following verses right. They read very strangely at present; but if you can set them right, I think we shall agree that what you have been saying of your words is true."

The Judge then wished them all good-morning, and went to lunch off a few pages of dictionary.

You may find the Judge's verses for examination in the Lesson Guide.


Over the two weeks:

  • Read or review the lesson each week.
  • Complete the assigned enrichment activities for each week.


Meet Mr. Pronoun, a hard worker who labors for the rich and powerful Mr. Noun. Mr. Pronoun's words stand in the stead of the words of Mr. Noun, for Mr. Noun does not like his words to be overused. A pronoun is a type of noun that refers to another noun or noun phrase. Examples include I, you, him, who, me, my, each other.


Activity - Week 1 Part 1: Correct the Judge's Strange Verses

Identify the places pronouns might be used (for example, 'her' in the place of 'Bo-peep') in the Judge's verses.


  • Little Bo-peep has lost Bo-peep's sheep,
  • And does not know where to find the sheep;
  • Leave the sheep alone till the sheep come home,
  • And bring the sheep's tails behind the sheep.


  • There was a man, the man had no eyes,
  • And the man went out to view the skies;
  • The man saw a tree with apples on,
  • The man took no apples off, and left no apples on.


  • Matilda dashed the spectacles away
  • To wipe Matilda's tingling eyes;
  • And as in twenty bits the spectacles lay,
  • Matilda's grandmamma Matilda spies.

Activity - Week 1 Part 2: Fill in the Pronouns in King Midas

Read the story and fill in appropriate pronouns (he, it, him, his, her, she, I, himself, you, my, etc.) in the blanks.


  • King Midas loved gold so much that ________ asked for the GOLDEN TOUCH.
  • After ________ was granted to ________, everything that ________ touched turned into gold.
  • At breakfast, ________ could neither eat food nor drink water, for ________ changed into gold before ________ could swallow ________.
  • ________ felt much distressed and cried aloud.
  • ________ little daughter Marigold ran to comfort ________, and ________ put ________ soft arms around ________ neck
  • ________ was changed into a gold statue.
  • Midas was horrified, and ________ groaned with anguish.
  • King Midas said, '________ hate the Golden Touch.'
  • ________ was told to bathe ________ in the river and sprinkle water over everything that ________ had transformed.
  • Marigold came back to life and cried out, 'Don't dear father!
  • '________ are wetting ________ pretty new dress!'
  • ________ did not know that ________ had been a little gold statue, and ________ never learned the fact from ________ father.
  • ________ rejoiced over ________, and ever afterward hated the sight of all gold except ________ lovely golden curls.

Activity - Week 2: Find the Pronouns in the Rhyme

Read the story aloud and call out, 'pronoun!' whenever you encounter a pronoun (e.g. I, who, her, she, he).


  • There was an old woman, as I have heard tell,
  • Who went to market, her eggs to sell;
  • She went to market, all on a market day,
  • And she went to sleep in the king's highway.
  • ***
  • There came by a peddler whose name was Stout,
  • Who cut off her petticoats all round about;
  • He cut off her petticoats up to her knees,
  • Which made the old woman to shiver and freeze.
  • ***
  • When the old woman at first did awake,
  • She began to shiver and she began, to shake;
  • She began to wonder, and she began to cry,
  • 'Lawk-a-daisy on me! This cannot be I!'
  • ***
  • 'If it be I, as I hope it may be,
  • I have a little dog at home, and he will know me;
  • If it be I, he will wag his little tail;
  • If it be not I, he will loudly bark and wail.'
  • ***
  • Home went the little woman, all in the dark,
  • Up got the little dog and he began to bark;
  • He began to bark, and she began to cry,
  • 'Lawk-a-daisy on me! This cannot be I!'