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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Submitted by Sudhagar22 on Mon, 29/12/2014 - 07:22

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Hello sir, His father has just retired. In this sentence the word " his" whom indicate.

Hello Sudhagar22,

'his' refers to the son of the man who just retired.

Best regards,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Abomohab on Sat, 20/12/2014 - 08:50

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Thank you for explain the meaning of clauses,I often find it in grammar with no explaining its meaning thank you very much

Submitted by corina pana on Wed, 03/12/2014 - 19:54

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Hello Can you explain to me please which one is the subject in this clauses: "Talk to a friend.Ask them to help you." It's about the imperative clauses? Thank you very much

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 04/12/2014 - 08:25

In reply to by corina pana

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Hello corina pana,

The imperative form of the verb has no subject. It is used to give an order, command, request (amongst friends) or strong advice.

Although there is no subject, there is an implied subject, which is 'you', as we can see if you include a question tag:

Talk to a friend, will you?

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sachin Hadke on Sat, 29/11/2014 - 20:45

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Hello, In my native language we have pronouns to refer elder and respected person. By chance, does English provides this facility? Thanks in advance --sachin

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 01/12/2014 - 15:46

In reply to by Sachin Hadke

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Hello Sachin Hadke,

In English there is no particular pronoun for this in most contexts. Respect and politeness is conveyed through intonation, body language and facial expression. Sometimes in restaurants or similar settings the waiter will use 'Sir' or 'Madam' effectively as a pronoun (e.g. 'Would Sir like to see the menu now?'), but this is quite rare and only occurs in these limited contexts.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sihabuddin Muh… on Sat, 22/11/2014 - 02:14

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Hello Sir I'm still lack in English. But I want to learn more, so I will be able to advance. And I have no idea what is the difference of British English and American English. Honestly, I prefer to learn British English than American English. Please help me. By the way, I read the admin's comment. And it seems like its always closed by "Best Wishes". what is it mean, and when do we use it?

Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 22/11/2014 - 05:53

In reply to by Sihabuddin Muh…

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Hello Sihabuddin,

There's a wide variety of content here and some great resources. I would suggest that you browse the site to see the options you have, and then just begin working on whatever section you find most useful or interesting.

If you want to practice your speaking in particular, the most important thing to do is speak. Perhaps you can find a conversation group or speak with a colleague or friend who is also learning English. You can also use the transcripts of our audio and video materials (see for example, Big City Small World, Word on the Street, and the How to videos) as models that you can imitate to learn new expressions and improve your pronunciation. Talking to yourself may feel strange at first, but it can really help you develop fluency and build your confidence.

You can find 'best wishes' in our dictionary (see the search box on the right), though please note it is also used with people we don't know well.

Good luck!

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by m_ravan on Fri, 14/11/2014 - 12:21

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Sir, I have copy and pasted the below sentences from examples of They/Them Talk to a friend. Ask them to help you. You could go to a doctor. They might help you. Here you mentioned "Talk to a friend" which means its singular form, next sentence is "Ask them to help you" --its plural form (them means --more friends) same like You could go to a doctor. They might help you. (a doctor -singular form) (They - plural word) Please clarify. Thanks, Ravanan

Submitted by rafika23 on Fri, 14/11/2014 - 20:41

In reply to by m_ravan

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regular; 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.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 15/11/2014 - 07:36

In reply to by m_ravan

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Hello Ranavan,

As rafika23 correctly says, we can use 'they' ('their', 'them' etc) to mean one person when we do not know if it is a man or a woman, or if we do not want to tell anyone if it is a man or a woman. The verb after this always has a plural form, even though we are talking about one person.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Ebeth on Fri, 31/10/2014 - 10:21

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Hello Sir, It’s the first time that I connect to the English course and I’m using grammar exercise, but d I have a problem. When I correct an exercise any possibility (permitted in the exercise) are correct. I don’t know if it’s a computer problem or I need to ‘reset’ the exercise any time … Thank you.

Hello Ebeth,

I was just able to use the exercise without any problems. You must capitalise pronouns when necessary (e.g. sentence 1), but otherwise it worked for me. Have you tried pressing the 'Finish' button? If you do that, the answers are displayed.

If you're still having problems with the exercise, please let us know in more detail exactly what happens.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Adtygrwl on Tue, 28/10/2014 - 14:32

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Hello Sir, I have doubt with usage of "them/they" when we don't know whether the person is a man or a woman. What would happen to the verb in this case. For example, please consider these sentences: a) His teacher is very good. They help him a lot. b) His teacher is very good. They helps him a lot. Which one's correct, please? Also, I have seen that some specific verbs are used with some other words: like MAKE a payment, COOK dinner, MAKE a phone call, DO some sightseeing, etc. Is it possible to learn such stuff somehow? I know this is asking a lot but I need help here. Thanking you in anticipation.

Hello Adtygrwl,

Of the two sentences, a) is grammatically correct, because even though 'they' refers to one person, it requires a plural verb. By the way, this particular sentence strikes me as a bit odd, perhaps because if I know this teacher well enough to know that the teacher is good, I probably would also know whether the teacher is a man or woman.

In general, 'make' implies the creation of something more than 'do', but there are many exceptions to this general rule - still it might help you sometimes. Other than that, I'm afraid I don't know of any easy rule that will help you choose such verbs.  I'd suggest making a list of them that you can study and refer to. Not only will this be a useful reference for you, but just the act of recording the verbs and expressions there will help you remember them.

Good luck!

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Kiki Rizky Agustina on Sat, 25/10/2014 - 11:23

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Hello, So I just watched Modern Family season 6 episode 5 and there was this dialogue: Cam: "We're not saying you're any worse than her." Ms. Plank: "'she.'" Cam: "Ma'am?" Ms. Plank: "'than she', that's proper English. It's too bad Lily won't learn it." Would you kindly explain Ms. Plank's statement? Because from what I'd been taught, I'd also use 'her' like Cam did. I didn't know that it was actually wrong/improper. Thank you. :)

Submitted by Kirk on Sun, 26/10/2014 - 09:33

In reply to by Kiki Rizky Agustina

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Hello Kiki Rizky Agustina,

We generally limit our focus to the materials found on LearnEnglish, but I'll answer your question. The form that is generally considered standard, as you say, is indeed 'than her'. 'than she' is used in a very formal style, but this style is quite uncommon nowadays and so I wouldn't recommend using it.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by iamanubhavsaini on Thu, 30/10/2014 - 06:01

In reply to by Kiki Rizky Agustina

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Hope you have got it by now, if not and for those who still wondering the same thing: When Cam said, "We're not saying you're any worse than her.", she actually meant, "We're not saying you're any worse than she is." On the other hand, "We're not saying you're any worse than her is".

Hello iamanubhavsaini,

Please see my response below - what Cam said is perfectly correct, though it's also true that one could say '...worse than she is.'

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by jprafulla on Wed, 15/10/2014 - 11:04

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In this page above you mentioned Talk to a friend. Ask them to help you. You could go to a doctor. They might help you." Can u please explain for whome we need to use "they and them". Thanks in advance. Joshua

Hello jprafulla,

As it says just above those example sentences, 'When we are not sure if we are talking about a man or a woman we use they/them'. It's just this use of 'they' and 'them' that we see in both the sentence about getting help from a friend (friends can be male and female) and in the sentence about doctors, who can also be male and female.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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Hi nanas,

Have you tried installing Flash on your tablet? If you do an internet search for 'install Flash' with the name of your tablet, perhaps you can find a way to do it. If that doesn't work, the only thing I can say is that at some point we plan to convert much of our Flash content to another form that works on more mobile devices, but I'm afraid we don't know when this will happen.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team