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

MultipleChoice_MTU4MDc=

Subject and object pronouns 2

GapFillTyping_MTU4MDg=

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

GapFillDragAndDrop_MTU4MDk=

he, she and they 2

GapFillTyping_MTU4MTY

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

GapFillTyping_MTU4MTc=

you and they 2

GapFillTyping_MTU4MTk=

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

 

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Hello Adam_new leaner,

That form is usually called the 'base form' or the 'bare infinitive'. After a few verbs (e.g. 'make', 'let' and 'notice'), an object (i.e. a noun or pronoun) + base form structure is commonly used. The base form does not change to agree with the subject.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Andrey_I on Wed, 02/03/2016 - 04:30

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Hello! Help me, please. In this sentence "My name's Matthew and ... am going to be your guide for today. " pronoun "I" could be only "I" not "i"? Why? We use "she, he etc." lower case in the part of sentence. Why we couldn't use "I" also? And this "Have you talked to a lawyer?...can tell you your rights. " could we put "he" or "she"? Written "a lawyer" not "lawyers". Thank you for help in advance!

Hello Andrey_I,

This is simply a question of convention. The first person pronoun is capitalised, while the others are not. Historically, it dates from around the thirteenth century; before that the pronoun was not capitalised.

The pronoun 'they' is used in place of 'he or she' when we do not know the gender of the person. It takes a plural verb even if it is one person:

Look at that person behind the tree. Do you know who they are?

If you have a problem go to a doctor and they will help you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by cristall on Tue, 01/03/2016 - 22:24

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hello i'm loubna from morrocco firstly thank you so much for your Effort it really helpful i have a problem i dont khnow what the difference between them and they

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 02/03/2016 - 06:34

In reply to by cristall

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Hello cristall,

We use 'they' when it is the subject of the verb:

They saw the castle. (It is 'they' who is seeing)

We use 'them' when it is the object of the verb:

I saw them. (I am seeing, and the thing I see is 'them')

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Shiv panda on Thu, 25/02/2016 - 09:04

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We use they and them for many peoples so why are you saying that we use it when we are not sure whether they are man and woman and please sir tell from where I should start learning English?

Hello again Shiv panda,

This is simply the way many people speak. 

I'd suggest you read our Getting started and Frequently asked questions pages for advice on how to use our site and that you look into the possibility of taking a class. There are several British Council centres in India that offer classes if you're interested.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by emirjuve on Wed, 24/02/2016 - 09:05

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Dear , If you could hel me What is correct : Uncompromising diplomacy and sovereignty claims HELP/HELPS leaders to appease nationalist elites and mobilize public support

Hello emirjuve,

The correct verb here would be 'help' as it must agree with the plural noun 'claims'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Seain on Sat, 20/02/2016 - 03:55

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Hi sir, 'I don't know why I invited the Johnsons. They don't really like parties.' about this exercise I don't understand why it should be 'they' not 'him' ? Is it because Johnsons refers to Johnson family ? Thank you Best wishes, Seain

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 20/02/2016 - 13:50

In reply to by Seain

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Hi Seain,

Yes, that is correct. The family name is 'Johnson'; the plural is used because it is about all members of the family.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ammar zehri on Fri, 19/02/2016 - 09:26

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This is really helpful.And a Free Chance To Learn

Submitted by mithiladw on Fri, 19/02/2016 - 05:11

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Please help me. I cannot practice the exercises because I only see white screen on the place.

Hello mithiladw,

Are you by chance using the Firefox browser? Firefox is not displaying our exercises; we're working to fix this, but in the meantime I'd suggest you try a different browser (e.g. Chrome or Internet Explorer) - you will probably be able to see the exercises with them. If not, please let us know.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by syedflexy23 on Thu, 18/02/2016 - 14:53

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This is really helpful.

Submitted by Samir alnasseri on Mon, 15/02/2016 - 10:49

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It is really useful. More exercises are recommended.

Submitted by Shamas Saeed on Mon, 15/02/2016 - 09:13

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In following question, my answer was "him". I wanted to talk to someone in charge and tell "them" how I felt. When we are talking to (someone) why the answer is them instead of him.

Hello Shamas Saeed,

This question has already been answered in the comments here.

When you have a question, it's always a good idea to check the comments first. Often someone else has already asked it!

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Deena Jebry on Sat, 13/02/2016 - 21:56

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In the following sentense(which is the same at the test above) I was not able to understand it (Have you talk to a laywer?they can tell you your rights) why the subject (they) is used instead of (he) or (she) ? because I have noticed the letter (a) before the object(lawyer) and as I know the (a) refers to singel. Thanks Bashar

Hello Deena Jebry,

When we do not know the gender of the person and we do not want to guess, we have two choices. We can say 'he or she' ('he/she'), which is quite clumsy, or we can use 'they', which is the most common option in modern English (though it is quite an old use). A plural verb is used with 'they' even though we are talking about one person.

 


Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ritesh46 on Sat, 13/02/2016 - 18:25

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Hello sir, in fill in the blank of question 10 we can use 'it' because we are talking about bags not man or woman. thank.

Hello ritesh46,

I'm afraid 'it' is not possible in that question because 'bags' is plural, not singular.

 


Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rhye on Sat, 13/02/2016 - 04:22

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This is a good exercise. I scored 100% on my first try. I need something like this to test my memory bank. Thanks a lot :-)

Submitted by Chibidi on Sat, 13/02/2016 - 02:26

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I find this exercise very helpful :) More practice! I just hope it doesn't only show the total score but also the questions I get wrong answers.

Submitted by sradhakrishnann on Tue, 09/02/2016 - 15:55

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excellent exercise. I scored 53% on the first try, was not sure why. Second attempt was 73% , third attempt was 85% and the fourth attempt 100%. Though the answers were the same in all attempt, it was the Correct usage of letters that mattered ( like using capital letter and small letter as appropriate). Thanks for building excellent exercise and feedback system. from a screen usability perspective, please see if the user can do the exercise without having to scroll the screen up & down. Good Job!!!

Hello sradhakrishnann,

Well done on your score! Thanks for the suggestion too - we'll see if it's possible to reduce the size of the window.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Daeiou RK on Thu, 04/02/2016 - 18:25

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Hello Mr.Kirk, Thanks for your reply and guidance. With best regards, Ravikumar

Submitted by Daeiou RK on Wed, 03/02/2016 - 17:55

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Sirs, We were taught in our schools and colleges that we should write the word 'I',the first person singular pronoun in capital letter irrespective of where it comes in a sentence, but we weren't told the reason for this.Can you please tell me what is the reason for this? Thanks in advance. With beat regards, Ravikumar

Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 04/02/2016 - 07:18

In reply to by Daeiou RK

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Hello Ravikumar,

There is an article in the The New York Times that explains this in detail, and I'm sure there are other sources that explain it as well. In summary, when the Old and Middle English pronoun 'ic' or 'ich' (which meant 'I') transformed into 'i', it gradually transformed into 'I' for typographical reasons. Like so much else (if not everything) in language, it is simply a convention.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nuruddin Filan on Wed, 03/02/2016 - 14:46

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My score is very good !!! So happy !!! Well, I have a question what about this sentence "I still believe someday YOU AND ME will find ourselves in love again" please explain it to me why use "YOU AND ME" not "YOU AND I" Thanks a lot. Love From Indonesia.

Hello Nuruddin,

'You and I' is the correct form here, as 'you and I' are the subject of the verb 'will find ourselves', though sometimes people say 'you and me' instead (and it is accepted especially in informal speech). Please note that sometimes 'you and I' is used as an alternative to 'you and me' when they are used as an object of a verb, e.g. 'The teacher is speaking to you and me (or 'you and I'), even though 'you and me' really makes more sense grammatically.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by santara on Fri, 29/01/2016 - 16:58

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Hi, isn't there a mistake in answer to question 12? "Have you talked to a lawyer? They can tell you your rights." - a lawyer => he can tell...

Hello santara,

When we do not know if the person is a man or a woman we can say 'he or she', 'he/she' or 'they'. Generally, 'they' is considered a more elegant option. When we use 'they' it is followed by a plural verb.

This is actually an old use of 'they' in English, dating back to the fourteenth century at least - you can find examples of it in Chaucer and, later, in Shakespeare.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by techtou2014 on Tue, 26/01/2016 - 10:02

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Hello, I'm back again I had a problem with online dictionary of Exford , and I tried to download some of them but they are not accessable with screen reader . And for the exercise how can I know my mestakes to correct them for me I get 87

Hello techtou2014,

There should be a button at the bottom of the exercise marked 'Finish'. When you click this you will see how many questions you got right, and you will have the choice of finishing or trying again. If you choose 'OK' then you will see a total score and you will be able to see the full correct answers via the 'Show answers' button.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by diesorg on Mon, 25/01/2016 - 01:11

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Good evening I wish to report that I have the same problem with the exercise as sadmovie74. I can do only the first item. When I go to the next item, the field to introduce the answer get freezed or is closed. I coudn't finish the exercise. I have windows 7 and used internet explorer and google chrome with the same result. Thank you

Hello diesorg,

We're sorry for the inconvenience, but thanks for reporting this, as the fact that you're having the same problem as sadmovie74 helps us get a sense for the scope of the problem.

While we look into this, could you please tell us if you have the same problem on other pages with a similar exercise, e.g. Task 4 on Elementary Podcasts Series 4 Episode 16? The answers for 1–3 are: 'out of', 'going to' and 'mark' – are you able to get past the first question?

Thanks again for your help with this.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sadmovie74 on Thu, 21/01/2016 - 04:50

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Hi teacher! Why didn't I do exercise. I just do the first sentence and I can't do the second sentence? Program don't permit me to do the second sentence.

Hello sadmovie74,

Did you press the > button near the bottom of the exercise? That should advance you to the next question. If that doesn't work for you, please let us know what kind of device and browser you're using and we'll try to fix this as soon as possible. Thanks!

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by belenwithn on Wed, 20/01/2016 - 23:22

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I love the way you change the page, Thanks for this exercise. You're awesome.

Submitted by chenio on Tue, 19/01/2016 - 18:44

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Hi everybody, This is a good exercise!!! Greetings from Colombia

Submitted by Sukhomlynova S… on Fri, 15/01/2016 - 14:02

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Hello there, Please correct the mistake in the following sentence (number 15): Where is Joanne. There should be a question mark instead of a full stop. Thanks

Hello Sukhomlynova Svitlana,

Thank you for spotting this! I have edited the exercise to correct the error.

 


Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by EREO on Wed, 13/01/2016 - 14:22

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Hi! I like that you have to pay atention in the capital letters when they have to use...

Submitted by Nedim84 on Mon, 11/01/2016 - 14:14

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I like this :) This is familiar to me.

Submitted by surendra kumar on Tue, 05/01/2016 - 01:48

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If I,you and he have been used in a single sentence, what should be their correct order?For example-"You,he and I have been invited to the party." Is this order correct? If not,please explain.