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Ken Ward's Writing Pages
Writing: Grammar: Parts of Speech

Main Page: Parts of Speech
Page Contents
  1. Pro-forms
      1. Pro-nouns
      2. Pro-verbs
      3. Pro-adjectives
      4. Pro-adverbs
      5. Other pro-forms


Pro-forms are not really part of grammar, and this topic could be discussed under ellipsis or substitution. The purpose of this section is draw attention to the use of words as replacements for other words and expressions.
A pro-form is a word that replaces a previously mentioned word or expression (or idea) and takes its meaning. Pro-forms have a similar function to pronouns (which are pro-forms). Strictly speaking, however, a pronoun is a word that stands for a noun. Conventially, pronouns are considered to stand for groups of words including sentences and even for ideas, inferred from the text. It is sometimes useful, however, to be aware that some words stand for other parts of speech. For instance:
Bob ran in the marathon. Betty did too.
In the sentence above, did means ran. Clearly, did isn't a pronoun (it replaces a verb), although it has the substituting quality of pronouns. We can think of did as a pro-verb. The word too is also a pro-form replacing in the marathon, and adding the normal adverb too, meaning in addition to the previously mentioned (Bob).


A pro-noun is a word that substitutes for a noun. All pro-nouns are pronouns, but some pronouns are not pro-nouns. For instance:
My neighbour'cat was unwell. This made me feel sad.
The pronoun this refers to the previous sentence, and is a pro-sentence, not a pro-noun.


The most common pro-verb is do.
They speak too groups. I do too.
Where do replaces speak.

Jack could lift heavy weights. So could Mary.
We can consider could in the second sentence to mean could lift. In the second sentence could is a pro-verb. However, in the meaning, could lift, could is a normal verb: it does not stand for another word. A word acting as a pro-form is sometimes repeated in the meaning in its normal form. The word so is also a pro-form replacing heavy weights.
We could have written the sentence, using too instead of so, like this:
Jack could lift heavy weights. Mary could too.
Where could is similarly a pro-veb meaning could lift. The word too is also a pro-form meaning lift heavy weights (too), where the repeated word too is an adverb of manner

He is flying to America. I may too.
The word may is a pro-verb in the above sentence.


Her dress is green. Mine is too.
The word too is a pro-adjective, standing for the adjective green. Again we could have written the sentence using so instead of too:
Her dress is green. So is mine.
Where so is a pro-adjective meaning green.


He exercised regularly. I did too.
The word too stands for regularly, so it is a pro-adverb. (did stands for exercised, and is a pro-verb).
Jo did the work well. Bill did it similarly.
The word similarly stands for well, and is a pro-adverb.

Other pro-forms

Pro-forms can replace other expressions, such as sentences:
You should not walk on the grass. Fido did not heed this.
The word, this, stands for 'the rule about not walking on the grass'.

They can refer to paragraphs, etc:
She had been let out of jail. She was violent and would attack without a thought. She carried a pistol and a knife, and would not hesitate to use them. She was a psychopath.

I did not know this when I told her to leave for disobeying the rules.
The word 'this' stands for the preceding paragraph.

Ken Ward's Writing Pages

The Last Place in Space
- by Ken Ward

When pilot Philip Turner is accidentally transported by an anomaly and marooned on an unknown planet, he discovers the planet is threatened by a group of ruthless aliens similarly marooned. With the help of a group of young women with superpowers, and a powerful being called a god, he reluctantly uses his advanced knowledge and technology to help the planet's inhabitants, but will he succeed when outnumbered by aliens, opposed by greedy and squabbling kings, and limited by his gentle nature and moral beliefs? Paperback and Kindle:
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The Last Place in Space