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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:

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


Subject and object pronouns 2


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


he, she and they 2


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


you and they 2



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)






There is a sentence in the exercise: I bought this laptop last week, and now it doesn't work.

If I write this sentence (as a learner of English) I would use it is not working. (present continuous tense). Why a native English speaker has used simple present here. Isn't it something happening now, at the moment?

Hello pencil,

It's also correct to use the present continuous here if you want to emphasise the current moment. If you use the present simple, it just means that it's broken, i.e. it doesn't perform its function in general, not now and not at any other time.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

I think there are two mistakes in the description, you used her/his to refer to ( women,men) which are proular an opposite way with they/them with singal.

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

Hello again Dado,

I think I see what your question is now -- I'm sorry I didn't understand the first time. You are right that 'he' and 'him' can only refer to a singular man, but since they can refer to any man, we say 'men' on this page. I expect this sounds strange to you, but it is natural in English.

The same thing is true of 'she' and 'her' -- they are used to refer to only one woman, but since they can refer to any woman, we say 'women' in our explanation.

I hope I've answered your question now -- please let me know if not.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Dado,

Yes, that is right.

For men we use he/him

For women we use she/her

For things we use it

For people when we do not know the gender or do not want to specify a gender we use they/them.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Dado,

Thanks very much for taking the time to tell us about an error you found. Could you please explain in more detail where it is? I don't see the error you mention. Thanks in advance for your help.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

these are superb

1.One / A person should not drive car when (he/she )/they (is)/are drunk. - How to write this correctly?
2.If a person goes for shopping, the brand names which they know will automatically come up in their minds. - Here, just like previous sentence, initially it states about single person but with use of "they", the statement gets converted as if the subject was plural.

Hello akm,

When we want to speak in general terms and not specify the gender of the person we are talking about, we use 'they' with a plural verb. It is possible to write 'he or she' ('she or he') but this is rather clumsy, especially if we need to repeat it.

In your first sentence, therefore, I would use '...when they are drunk'. The second sentence is perfectly fine. It's quite normal to switch from 'a person' to 'they' in this way.



The LearnEnglish Team