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

MultipleChoice_MTkxMTI

 

Comments

Hello I hope you are doing well. Please look at this sentence "Students gave children books because they were good". Are students, children, or books good? Should we only rely on context to know what "they" refers to? How to avoid such confusion?
Thank you beforehand

Hello Bekhzad,

This is a good question and the answer is that the sentence is ambiguous. It is a feature of English that such sentences can be made as words do not change their form as much as in many languages, where there is agreement in terms of case (nominative/subject, accusative/object etc), gender (masculine, feminine, neuter) and so on.

This can be a strength of the language as skilled writers will often use such ambiguity as a tool. Where clarity is important it is the job of the speaker to ensure that they do not leave scope for confusion and the context is often key to this. Where the context does not help you can always add a clarification or construct the sentence slightly differently:

Students gave children books because they - the students - were good.

Students gave children books because they were good. The students, I mean.

Students gave children books because the students were good.

 

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team 

Thank you Mr Peter May for making it clear. I have another question. In the sentence "He has read magazines, journals and research papers which were published last year", "which" refers only to research papers?

Hello Bekhzad,

The sentence is actually ambiguous. 'Which' could refer to just research papers or it could refer to magazines, journals and research papers. The context might make it clear, and the pronunciation could also be helpful, but the sentence as written could be read either way.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear sirs,
I have a sample report as below :

My Dolphin Report
This is a dolphin. They have two black flippers and a big grey tail. They live in the ocean. They eat fish.
I like dolphins because they are cute.

My question is whether it is necessary to change the first ‘They’ to ‘Dolphins’. Or, it is grammatically correct to use the pronoun ‘They’ to replace the noun ‘Dolphin’.

Thanks.

Hi Tony,

It would be better to change the text, as it sounds strange for the reason you point out. I think your suggestion is the most elegant one: 'This is a dolphin. Dolphins have ...'

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Kirk. This cleared my doubt.

Dear sirs,

I have the sample as below :

Just between you and I/me , I think Tom is going to lose his job.

My answer is "I", because i think BETWEEN is a preposition, it is not averb so that subject pronoun is used.

Could you me to explain whether my answer is correct or not?

Thanks.

Hello hoamuoigio,

You are correct that 'between' here is a preposition. However, prepositions are followed by objects and so 'me' (the object pronoun) is correct here, not 'I'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

i would like to check my answers , is there any way ?

thanks a lot

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