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

 

Take your language skills and your career to the next level
Get unlimited access to our self-study courses for only £5.99/month.

Submitted by nakirisrafil on Wed, 17/09/2014 - 13:42

Permalink
i lose my test but i go ahead...

Submitted by ganeshcharms on Mon, 15/09/2014 - 19:12

Permalink
Hi Peter M, I'd recently asked you about the droping of articles in sentences and you asked me to come up with an example sentence. This is a headline of an article in a newspaper Nearly 700 migrants may have died in two recent shipwrecks off the coast of Libya, the International Organisation for Migration said Monday. Could you explain me why "the" is dropped (shoudn't it be "died in the two recent shipwrecks) and again why ON is dropped (shoudn't it be migration said on monday) thanks :)

Hello ganeshcharms,

Words are often omitted from newspaper headlines to save space. The headline that you cite is actually very long, and in any case, 'the' would probably not be used in it, as the two shipwrecks have presumably not been announced before. If the newswriter expected that the readers would know about the shipwrecks they were referring to, then 'the' would be appropriate, but when the shipwrecks are news, 'the' doesn't make sense, as it refers to information that has already been mentioned.

It's possible to say 'on Monday', though again, in contexts where space is limited, sometimes this preposition is dropped before days of the week.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sari55 on Fri, 12/09/2014 - 02:15

Permalink
Can you give us an example about the -dummy subjet- ?

Submitted by mai.sirichai on Mon, 08/09/2014 - 01:24

Permalink
what a great website to improve your english skills!

Submitted by aaema pirzada on Sun, 31/08/2014 - 14:48

Permalink
This is best site to learn english

Submitted by Deepakshinde on Thu, 28/08/2014 - 18:39

Permalink
Hi guys I would like to do chat woth you and I won't to learn grammer

Submitted by Sarah Nasir on Mon, 25/08/2014 - 21:02

Permalink
I want to improve my spoken English skills but i have no one with whom i can speak in English. What should i do? Is there any such online facility to practice spoken english?

Submitted by raghad.mm on Mon, 25/08/2014 - 08:13

Permalink
HI I'm from syria I want to learn English And I want to speak In English... But I didn't Found anybody who talk with me in English and improve my fault can anybody give some advices please ?

Submitted by haire on Fri, 22/08/2014 - 09:07

Permalink
Wow! It's my first time to join this online learning. I liked every thing. Regards

Submitted by parutae on Wed, 20/08/2014 - 08:12

Permalink
This site is really nice..!!

Submitted by Mohammad Tasni… on Tue, 19/08/2014 - 09:28

Permalink
HI I wannt to learn English Properly. I need you help. And I want to speak In English... But I didn't Found anybody who talk with me in English and improve my fault.

Submitted by fairmind232 on Sun, 17/08/2014 - 08:53

Permalink
How it is possible to get IELTS score 6 in all category ?Can anybody suggest me?

Submitted by Ritu Sehrawat on Sun, 17/08/2014 - 08:35

Permalink
In the sentence.....we are talking about a lawyer....have you talked to a lawyer..then we will use they not he???
because we don't know if a lawyer is a woman or man, then we use they. they talked about that above.

Hello Ritu Sehrawat,

As NadineAbdelQader has said, we often use 'they' in English to mean 'he or she'. It is followed by a plural verb but has a singular meaning. An alternative is to write 'he/she' with a singular verb, but this is often considered clumsy and not good style.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by kimhongga on Sat, 16/08/2014 - 06:31

Permalink
harder than i think

Submitted by nainglintun on Thu, 14/08/2014 - 15:44

Permalink
I really want to improve my English Writing Skill. The problem is don't know whereto start . I am so worried when I am writing English . Please, correct me Thanks

Submitted by mario760 on Wed, 13/08/2014 - 20:56

Permalink
I'm starting again to learn english because I have forgotten almost everything I have learned when I was at university. I'm going to write as much as I can and I hope receive all the corrections you people see in my comments to improve my communication skills. Regards.

Submitted by ayumasrputri on Wed, 13/08/2014 - 05:16

Permalink
Ah this excercise really teach me how to write corectly, I forgot use capslock in fisrt sentence. And I got half score hihi, over all it so interesting. thanks :)

Submitted by KAGINA on Tue, 12/08/2014 - 08:10

Permalink
this is very interesting, i could not imagine to score 66. something percent in Grammar. I think, i will improve my English. God Bless British Council for there good plan unto Nations

Submitted by Sri Mulyati on Fri, 08/08/2014 - 10:33

Permalink
Hello ... please help me to speak in english.I wanna be able to speak in english

Submitted by omaratta on Thu, 07/08/2014 - 08:50

Permalink
Hi all friends i need to help me to learn English

Hi omaratta,

Many of our users have learned a lot by using LearnEnglish by themselves. You are welcome to use the site in any way you wish, and working through the grammar pages is good if you find that useful. I'd like to suggest a different method, but you should do what is best for you.

I'd suggest you try the Elementary Podcasts. Start with series 3 episode 1. First, listen to the one or two sections of the podcast, and then read the transcript (under Instructions & downloads) as you listen. Then do the exercises that correspond to the sections you've listened to.

You should choose some useful phrases from what you've listened to and imitate their pronunciation - repeat those words and phrases many times. Pronounce whole phrases, not just words, because the pronunciation of words in English changes according to context. Repeat these phrases until they're relatively easy to say.

Then try to use these phrases with English speakers that you meet wherever you go. If you don't know anyone who speaks English, you can still say them to yourself to practice.
When you find some grammar that you want to learn more about, consult the grammar pages, but I think you will learn more in general by using the Elementary Podcasts.

Good luck!

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by saipathudut on Tue, 05/08/2014 - 17:23

Permalink
Hello Peter, Don't worry, he's a bit strange sometimes. Just ignore him. This answer is marked as a wrong one. I thought the object pronoun "him" is a correct one as it came as the object of the verb. Isn't it sir? Can you please tell me where I went wrong sir? Regards, saipathudut/srinivasant

Hello saipathudut,

I'm afraid I'm not sure what you are refering to here. Where is this example marked as wrong? The sentence looks fine to me.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter Sir, I am really very sorry. When I took the personal pronoun test three days ago, somehow the answer "him" was marked wrong. It really confused me a lot. But when I keyed in "him" now after seeing your message, it was marked correct. Thanks for your support. Regards, Saipathudu. T

Submitted by mzava on Mon, 04/08/2014 - 23:38

Permalink
Hi Osfen You might be correct,but let hearing from other mate what are their suggestion.

Submitted by davood1355 on Sun, 03/08/2014 - 16:15

Permalink
this is a good way to practice grammar. i need to improve my grammar to translate artistic.

Submitted by npscer on Sat, 02/08/2014 - 22:03

Permalink
You suggest that "When we are not sure if we are talking about a man or a woman we use they/them" But they/them are plural whereas She and He is singular. Is it ok to substitute a singular pronoun with a plural pronoun (this will also impact use of auxiliary verb (is or are, was or were)? Pl. explain. Thanks.

Hello npscer,

'They' is used in both of these ways, but it always has a plural verb even when it is used to mean 'he or she'. For example:

Plural use: 'There are two doctors who I see regularly. They give me advice about my diet.'

He/she use: 'You should see a doctor. They know a lot about diets and healthy eating.'

Both of these uses are common and are perfectly correct.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by samah Elwakeel on Fri, 01/08/2014 - 22:04

Permalink
Good Day I have a question in question 7 why do u use they instead of I ? I don't know why I invited from Johnsons ? ...... don't really like parties thanks alot

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 02/08/2014 - 08:00

In reply to by samah Elwakeel

Permalink

Hello samah elwakeel,

The example is not quite as you have quoted. The correct version is:

I don't know why I invited the Johnsons. They don't really like parties.

We usually invite people to parties who like going to parties, and the speaker is saying that inviting the Johnsons was not a good idea as they don't enjoy going to parties.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by luiz2014 on Tue, 29/07/2014 - 17:09

Permalink
in the sentence " ... have you talked to a lawyer ... " the correct pronoun it would not be "he" ?
Hello Luiz, This question has been asked before - look through the older comments to find the answer. Basically, as it's is not clear whether the lawyer is a man or woman we use they/them. This is one of the grammar rules on this page. Best wishes, Adam The LearnEnglish Team