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

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

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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

 

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Hello surendra,

The order in your sentence is good. In general, it is considered more polite to put 'I' last in a series of pronouns, but otherwise there are no particular rules for the order that I'm aware of.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by MoHa-Mo on Sat, 26/12/2015 - 23:26

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Hello Teachers I want to ask a question Please about this warning " If there is no other subject we use it or there. We call this a dummy subject " if i have a sentence which starts with there the verb after there will be ( is or are )

Hello MoHa-Mo,

'There' can be followed by either 'is' or 'are' - it can be singular or plural.

'It' must be followed by a singular verb ('is'); for plurals the equivalent is 'they'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by CalmWhale on Fri, 25/12/2015 - 09:58

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Hi Learn English Team In a sentence is, the speaker the first person pronoun, the listener the second person pronoun and another person referred to in the sentence the third person pronoun. e.g. I (First person) want you (Second person) to tell John (Third person) that he has.... Are there other ways for these pronouns to appear in a sentence? My objective is to know when to use the appropriate verb (first, second, third) for the pronouns. Thank you.

Hello CalmWhale,

It looks to me as if you've got the right idea, as your example sentence and all the sentences you wrote in your comment all use the personal pronouns correctly. As is explained above, these pronouns can be subjects or objects, and can also be singular or plural (e.g. 'I' or 'we'). With verbs, one form that learns sometimes find difficult is the third person singular form, as, for example, in the present simple, an 's' is added to the base form of the verb.

Good luck!

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by samarsekar on Mon, 21/12/2015 - 10:03

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hi ..what about number 1,5,7 can you explain please

Hi samarsekar,

Question 1 is about two people - Sally and Ron, Sally is speaking about both so the pronoun is 'we'.

Question 5 is about John, so the pronoun is 'he'.

Question 7 is about a family or a couple called 'Johnson'; the name is plural ('Johnsons') so we know the speaker is talking about more than one member of the family and the the pronoun is 'they'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Mart1981 on Thu, 17/12/2015 - 18:40

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Have you talked to a lawyer? They They can tell you your rights. -------------------------------- Why not ''he''?

Hello Mart1981,

As it says above:

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'.

Since it's women can be lawyers, 'they' is appropriate here.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Tintien on Mon, 14/12/2015 - 08:25

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Good for practice. ;)

Submitted by Charkhi on Sat, 05/12/2015 - 11:47

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It was simple but the base of gramer.

Submitted by Charkhi on Sat, 05/12/2015 - 11:31

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Thank you we are going a head

Submitted by Gihan Farouk E… on Sat, 05/12/2015 - 10:54

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number 1 please

Submitted by selimrajbari on Thu, 03/12/2015 - 11:20

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Useful and needed more practices.

Submitted by maher2016 on Mon, 30/11/2015 - 20:05

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This is very easy but I need more practes. thank you ...

Submitted by amosbouadou on Fri, 27/11/2015 - 00:32

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thank you so much :) i think that i understood the use of they/them when you don't know if it's man or woman

Submitted by ascales on Wed, 25/11/2015 - 20:41

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Question #12 I got it wrong I used i instead of they but not really why is wrong. Have you talked to a lawyer? .......... can tell you your rights.

Hello ascals,

In English when we do not know the gender (male or female) of a person we use 'they'. In this sentence we do not know if the lawyer is a man or a woman, so 'they' is correct.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

This is the first time to know this information . thank you Mr Petr

Submitted by Ishak Djebary Tahiri on Wed, 25/11/2015 - 00:32

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Thank you so much; it's very interesting

Submitted by quique soriano on Fri, 13/11/2015 - 14:00

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In the sentence: Where do you want these bags? Shall I put THEM over here? I understand that them refers to a people not objects. I inicially thought in it Thanks

Hello quique soriano,

The pronoun 'they' ('them', 'their' and 'theirs') can be used for both objects and people.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Aung Lwin Toe on Fri, 13/11/2015 - 07:51

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This lessons are useful for me. Thank you.

Submitted by Aung Lwin Toe on Fri, 13/11/2015 - 07:41

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Thanks alot for your this lessons.

Submitted by Djibrine on Thu, 12/11/2015 - 16:48

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Thanks u it is very helpfull. I understood when we use they/them

Submitted by Tem Mush on Mon, 09/11/2015 - 12:12

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Thank you for this site..it's very helpfull..

Submitted by Devixox on Wed, 04/11/2015 - 08:20

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Dear sir, in this sentence, " You could go to a doctor. They might help you." what 'could' is referring to ? And where we can use 'could' in a sentence? Thank you!

Submitted by NA7 on Tue, 03/11/2015 - 19:06

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good note about using "them" when we don't know exactly he or she we are talking about. Thank you; that was helpful.

Submitted by Mmustaque95 on Tue, 03/11/2015 - 14:46

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I really like this website.It is a great place to learn.I am looking for some one who can help me in practicing English.My whatsapp number is- xxxxxxxxxx.If any one is interested add me on your whatsapp contact.Thank you.

Hello Mmustaque95,

It's great that you want to practise your English, and it's nice to hear that you like the site. However, please remember that our House Rules ask users to neither ask for nor give personal contact information such as email addresses, Skype names and so on. This is for data protection reasons, as we have some users who may be under 18 years of age.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anita.maria on Sat, 31/10/2015 - 11:10

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excuse me sir. i wanna ask you about the question number 7. it say that I invited the Johnsons and the answer is they, i think this is not suitable answer because Johnsons is the name of person, why we're not use he or we? or what is mean many twins of Johnson? can you explain it? thanks before

Hello anita.maria,

'the Johnsons' refers to a family, which is a group of more than one person. That is why 'they' is the correct answer. Does that make sense?

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by saeed.s on Thu, 29/10/2015 - 14:19

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This is nice start Thank you

Submitted by Taohidul on Thu, 29/10/2015 - 09:56

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at no-13. Can i use this way " We're going to eat something. Do you want to come with us ?" Would you help me ?

Hello Taohidul,

Yes, that's ok, though the sentence in the exercise indicates that 'we' are going out to get something to eat. In your sentence, it could be that 'we' are going to eat something at home.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by emonmahbub on Mon, 26/10/2015 - 18:00

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In the question 12 "Have you talked to a lawyer? They can tell you your rights." Why "They" is correct instead of "He/She"? I need some explanation. Who will help me?
Are you talking about a lawyer... the lawyer can be a woman or a man, you don´t know who will be, for this reason you use they ou them.

Submitted by ahmed5538 on Wed, 21/10/2015 - 21:10

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Thank you Its really useful And i have learn new one from question number 10

Submitted by fatmariyanti on Mon, 19/10/2015 - 08:33

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Hello Peter, I'm still asking about the same question "why we use 'They/Them'?" Could you please refer me to one of written references (books) that explain more about this? Because we've been learned at schools that 'He/Him' to replace Subject Pronoun (singular) that we don't know for sure the subject is. As we know 'They' means plural in number, while 'He' is singular. The sentence above is '...a doctor..'. If you mean "he 'OR' she", still doesn't clear to me, unless you mean "he 'AND' she", so we use THEY/THEM. Please explain more about this, and thank you so much...

Hello fatmariyanti,

Traditionally, 'he' was used when the gender of the person referred to was uncertain, but many regard this as sexist. It's therefore quite common for people to use 'they' to avoid this, and actually this is not something new – you can find examples of 'they' being used in this way in English even before the 20th century.

When 'they' is used to refer to a single person, the verb is still plural, i.e. you say 'They are ...' I hope this helps you.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team