Personal Pronouns in English GrammarJust here for the exercises? Click here.
What are personal pronouns?
We use personal pronouns (I, you, he, she …) to replace nouns. We use them to refer to people and things that have already been mentioned. They reflect person, number and gender and help us to avoid repetition in our writing. Personal pronouns can be the subject or the object of a sentence, although they have different forms.
Learn how to use personal pronouns in English grammar with Lingolia, then put your knowledge to the test in the exercises.
On Tuesdays, I go to my English course. It starts at 7pm.
There are only 4 people in the class. Nour and Pablo are the class clowns, they make a lot of jokes.
Francesco is the best in the class. He always gets good grades. I am somewhere in the middle.
Our teacher is Ms Pearson. We like her because she makes learning English fun.
She always tells us: “You have to speak as much English as possible if you want to improve!” This has helped me a lot.
Unfortunately, today is Ms Pearson’s last day. She is starting a new job. We will miss her a lot!
Next week, we will have a new teacher. I hope that they are as good as Ms Pearson.
Overview of English Personal Pronouns
The table below provides an overview of English personal pronouns.
|1st person||2nd person||3rd person||1st person||2nd person||3rd person|
How to use personal pronouns
Personal pronouns stand in for nouns and help us to avoid repetition. Compare:
- Today is Ms Pearson’s last day. Ms Pearson is starting a new job.
- → Today is Ms Pearson’s last day.
Ms PearsonShe is starting a new job.
First Person: I/we
Use the pronouns I/we to talk about yourself in the singular or plural.
- Every Tuesday, I go to English course.
- We will miss Ms Pearson a lot.
Second Person: you
Use the second-person pronoun you to address other people. You is the same in the singular and the plural forms.
- You have to speak as much English as possible if you want to improve.
Third Person Plural: they
The personal pronoun they can refer to two or more people/things in the third person.
- Nour and Pablo are the class clowns. They are always making jokes.
Third Person Singular: he/she/they/it
The pronouns he/she/they refer to people in the singular. He is masculine, she is feminine.
- Francesco is the best in the class. He always gets good grades.
- Our teacher is Ms Pearson. She makes learning English fun.
They is gender neutral.
- Next week, we will have a new teacher. I hope that they are as good as Ms Pearson.
- the new teacher’s gender is unknown
The pronoun it refers to things, concepts, objects and animals in the third person. We also use it in impersonal constructions.
- I go to my English course on Tuesdays. It starts at 7pm.
- Look at the elephant, it is taking a bath.
- It’s raining.
Note: We can use he/she for animals when we have a personal connection. This is often the case with pets. As stated above, if there is no personal connection to an animal, we use the pronoun it.
- My dog Murphy is very relaxed, he never barks.
Traditionally, people used she to refer to cars and boats, but nowadays most people use it.
- Look at that old sailboat, isn’t it/she beautiful.
Subject pronouns vs. object pronouns
Some personal pronouns have different forms depending on whether they are the subject or the object of the sentence.
- We learn English with Ms Pearson.
- we = 1st person plural subject pronoun
- but: Ms Pearson teaches us English.
- us = 1st person plural object pronoun
See the table above for the different subject and object forms.
The subject of the sentence usually comes at the beginning of the phrase and performs the verb. Logically, we use subject pronouns to replace the subject of the sentence.
- Ms Pearson makes learning English fun. → She makes learning English fun.
The object of the sentence usually comes after the verb and is the recipient of the action in the sentence. We use object pronouns to replace the object of the sentence.
- We will miss Ms Pearson a lot. → We will miss her a lot.
We also use object pronouns after prepositions.
- We all signed a card for Ms Pearson. → We all signed a card for her.