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Personal pronouns

Level: beginner

We have both subject pronouns and object pronouns:

Subject Object
I me
you you
he him
she her
it it
we us
you you
they them

We use subject pronouns as the subject of a verb:

I like your dress.
You are late.
He is my friend.
It is raining.
She is on holiday.
We live in England.
They come
from London.

Be careful!

English clauses always have a subject.

His father has just retired. > He was a teacher. (NOT Was a teacher.)
I'm waiting for my wife.She is late. (NOT Is late.)

The imperative, which is used for orders, invitations and requests, is an exception:

Stop!
Go away.
Please come to dinner tomorrow.
Play it again, please.

If there is no other subject, we use it or there. We call this a dummy subject.

We use object pronouns as the object of a verb:

Can you help me, please?
I can see you.
She doesn't like him.
I saw her in town today.
We saw them in town yesterday, but they didn't see us.

and after prepositions:

She is waiting for me.
I'll get it for you.
Give it to him.
Why are you looking at her?
Don't take it from us.
I'll speak to them.

Subject and object pronouns 1

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Subject and object pronouns 2

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he, she and they

We use he/him to refer to men, and she/her to refer to women. When we are not sure if we are talking about a man or a woman, we use they/them:

This is Jack. He's my brother. I don't think you have met him.
This is Angela. She's my sister. Have you met her before?
You could go to a doctor. They might help you.
Talk to a friend. Ask them to help you.

he, she and they 1

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he, she and they 2

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you and they

We use you to talk about people in general, including the speaker and the hearer:

You can buy this book everywhere. = This book is on sale everywhere.
You can't park here. = Parking is not allowed here.

We use they/them to talk about institutions and organisations:

They serve good food here. (they = the restaurant)
Ask them for a cheaper ticket. (them = the airline)

especially the government and the authorities:

They don't let you smoke in here. 
They are going to increase taxes.
They are building a new motorway. 
They say it’s going to rain tomorrow.

you and they 1

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you and they 2

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it

We use it to talk about ourselves:

  • on the telephone:

Hello. It's George.

  • when other people cannot see us:

It's me. It's Mary. (Mary is knocking on the door.)

We also use it to talk about other people:

  • when we point people out for the first time:

Look. It's Paul McCartney.
Who's that? I think it's John's brother.

  • when we cannot see someone and we ask them for their name:

Hello. Who is it? (someone answering the phone)
Who is it? (someone about to answer the door)

it

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Comments

It is very nice exercise, we can practices our study.

Thanks for sharing!!

Thank you!

Hello Mr Kirk,
In the example below. Can I say? : She doesn't tell me instead of She didn't tell me.
A: What time is Bianca's flight arriving?
B: I don't know. She didn't tell me .

Hello Momocompanyman

If Bianca was supposed to tell you before now, then 'She didn't tell me' is the best form here. If you mean that you have texted her just now and she is not responding, then you could say 'She's not telling me', but not 'She doesn't tell me'.

You might want to look at our Talking about the present page to see more about the difference present tenses.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
I would like to ask if the following is correct
1.People say that it is a beautiful flat, but to me is just Home sweet home or
2..but for me is just home sweet home
Thank you in advance

Hello angi

I'd say 'for me'. You should also say 'it is just'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

A lot of famous authors chose to be lazy with their syntax and use of lexis. In the rules of the language, 'they' is seen as a plural pronoun. I get that language varies overtime and it is possible that it could become a singular pronoun. However, in its current state, 'they' is, on a technical level, a plural.

At the time of Shakespeare (the early modern English period) I don't believe they had a standard spelling system, or at least one was just emerging, and words were often used as they fit.

It is my understanding that: 'it' is a 3rd person singular pronoun. Like he, she, him and her. Is there any reason as to why it cannot be used to refer to a person. Is it a connotations thing? Because the denotation doesn't specify that it can't be used to refer to somebody of whose gender is unknown.

Thanks for replying. This is a fascinating subject.

Hello again fire,

There is nothing lazy about the use of singular they, and nor are examples from history the result of the language being in some way insufficiently standardised, as later examples from Dickens and Austen (amongst many others) demonstrate.

Singular they is a long-established form which is not controversial. I'm not sure why you think it is problematic, or what evidence you have for that. You seem to be tilting at windmills here.

In standard use 'it' is not used to refer to people other than newborn babies, and if a person does use 'it' in this way then it is immediately understood to be insulting - a way to dehumanise a person by referring to them as a thing or a non-human animal. It's something that is occasionally used in film or literature as a way to express contempt.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello learners.

It is my understanding that: 'they' is a 3rd person plural pronoun and should not be, in a technical setting, used to refer to a singular person. I suppose this is alright if you are speaking informally but when it comes to the technicalities, it is incorrect.

Also, 'it' can be used to refer to humans.

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