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Personal Pronouns

Referring to people

Me / We

 

 

 

1st Person: I / We — Me / Us

SUBJECT PRONOUN

After a noun is mentioned the first time, we tend not to repeat it.  Instead, we use a pronoun to refer to the noun.  The first-person singular pronoun for the subject (the agent of the action) is I, and the plural pronoun is we.

SINGULAR

move rightpronoun refers to Sam 
I danceSAM.       " I enjoy dancing."

PLURAL

move rightRefers to Lea and Sam
dancersLEA AND SAM. " We enjoy dancing."

 

OBJECT PRONOUN

The first-person singular pronoun for the object (the receiver of the action) is me, and the plural is us.

SINGULAR

move rightpronoun refers to Sam 
SAM.
       "Watch me."

PLURAL

move rightpronoun refers to Lea and Sam 
LEA AND SAM
.  "Watch us."

 

watch (v.) – see and observe something moving
look (v.) – see something with no particular attention to movement

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Pronouns

2nd Person

You / You All
 

 

2nd Person: You — You

SUBJECT PRONOUN

The second person pronoun for the subject (the agent of the action) is you, and the plural is also you.

SINGULAR

 You enjoy dancing. you refers to you (not me).

PLURAL

 You (all) enjoy dancing. you refers to you (plural)

OBJECT PRONOUN

The second-person singular pronoun for the object (the receiver of the action) is you, and the plural is you.

SINGULAR

Look at you.  mirror   

PLURAL

Look at you (all). you refers to you all

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Pronouns

3rd Person

He / She / They
 

 

3rd Person: He / She / We — Him / Her / Them

SUBJECT PRONOUN

The third-person singular pronoun for the subject (the agent of the action) is he (male) or she (female). The plural pronoun is them (for males or females.)

SINGULAR

Lea - dancing           pronoun refers to Lea
Sam: Lea is a dancer. She enjoys dancing.

Sam dancing         pronoun refers to Sam;
Lea: Sam is a dancer. He enjoys dancing.

PLURAL

Sam and Lea            pronoun refers to Sam and Lea
Sam and Lea are dancing. They enjoy dancing.

OBJECT PRONOUN

The third-person singular pronoun for the object (the receiver of the action) is him (male) or her (female), and the plural is them for males and females.

SINGULAR

                              Refers to Lea 
Sam is watching Lea. He is watching her.

                                 Refers to Sam
Lea is watching Sammy. She is watching him.

PLURAL

                              Refers to Sam and Lea 
Let's watch Sam and Lea. Watch them. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impersonal Pronouns

It / They

 

 

 

3rd Person – impersonal

SUBJECT PRONOUN

We use it to refer to an impersonal noun, such as a thing, a place, an idea, or an animal of unknown gender (not pets). The impersonal singular noun for the subject is it, and the plural is they.

SINGULAR

dancing duck       pronoun refers to Lea 
The duck is dancing.  It is dancing. 

 

PLURAL

dancers       pronoun refers to Lea 
The ducks are dancing. They are dancing.

 

 

 

OBJECT PRONOUN

The impersonal singular pronoun for the object (the receiver of the action) is it, and the plural is them.

SINGULAR

mirror
Look at it. It refers to the duck.

PLURAL


Look at them.
    Them refers to the ducks. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

 

 

Error and Solution

ERROR   

*My brother he helps me sometimes.  (repeated noun)

 

Look at my car!  Isn't she a beauty.

The baby dropped its sock.

The dog dropped its bone. (not incorrect, but not preferred)

SOLUTIONS

My brother helps me. (Delete repeated noun.)

My brother is helpful.  He helps me.  

This is not a mistake.  Cars, boats, planes, ships, and other vehicles are often affectionately referred to as "she".

The baby dropped his / her sock. (We use gender pronouns with babies. When in doubt, we look for "pink" (female) or "blue" (male) clues, or we ask the parent.)

The dog dropped his / her bone. (We use gender pronouns with pets when the gender is known.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar Notes

It is I / It is me

Woman on Phone

 

 

 

Formal vs. Informal

FORMAL

The old argument over whether to use a subject or object pronoun after a "be" verb can be simplified to formal vs. informal usage.  Grammarians often look back to Latin (not French "C'est moi.") for resolution. Linguists look at present day usage.  To be safe, use the subject pronoun after a "be" verb for academic and business English usage.

May I please speak to Hillary Clinton—  I am she.     in speech

Who said that? —  It was I who said that. / I did.

Who is on the phone?  —  It is she, the Secretary of State. with a title 

INFORMAL

In everyday, informal usage.  The object pronoun commonly occurs after a "be" verb. A speaker may switch to the formal usage in an informal situation in order to add importance to the identity.   "It is I, your mother, who is telling you what to do."

May I please speak to Hillary?   This is her.  /  This is Hillary.   (not:  I am her.)

Who said that?   It was me. /  Me.

Who is on the phone?  It's her, your wife. 

 

Burchfield (421.6) (373); Garner (485); Merriam-Webster (566)

 

Resources

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Who?

 

 

 

Complete the sentence.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check 1-10" button at the bottom.

 

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Practice 2

Attending a Musical

musical notes
 

 

Complete the paragraph with pronouns.

  1. Select the option that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.

 

11.


   

12.
Last night, I saw "Westside Story". 

   

13.
There are two gangs: the "Sharks" and the "Jets". One of the guys in the "Sharks" kills a guy in the "Jets".

   

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