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 osfen111 on Sat, 26/07/2014 - 09:30

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Hi, in the example above, "Can you help me please?" Instead, can I say, "Can you please help me?. Appreciate if you can advise the difference between the two sentences. Thank you

Hi osfen111,

The sentences mean the same and are both correct. You could also put 'please' at the beginning of the sentence:

'Please, can you help me?'

I don't think there is any difference between the meanings of the different sentences. Some might say that the second of your sentences is more insistent or stronger, but I think intonation and stress is far more important than word order in this regard.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by linhchicago on Fri, 25/07/2014 - 10:52

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Hi I don't understand the grammar in this sentence " Shanghai police say those arrested include the head of the Husi Food Company and its quality manager" Why does two of verb "arrested and include" stand side by side Tks so much

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 26/07/2014 - 07:35

In reply to by linhchicago

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Hi linhchicago,

The word 'arrested' here is actually part of a reduce relative clause. You can think of the sentence this way:

Shanghai police say those [who were] arrested include the head of the Husi Food Company and its quality manager.

It's quite common in English to reduce the relative clause like this. If the verb is passive, as in this instance, then we use a past participle; if the verb is active, then we use a present participle:

Shanghai police say those [who are] facing trial include the head of the Husi Food Company and its quality manager.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish

Submitted by Renaldi Yusuf on Mon, 21/07/2014 - 02:42

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Allo matey, I have a problem with tenth quetions. I have used "It"m and "Them", but didn't work and still wrong. Can u help me, please?

Hello Renaldi,

It seems to be working fine to me. Remember that the answers are case-sensitive, so if you write 'Them' instead of 'them' then it will not be accepted.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by davood1355 on Mon, 21/07/2014 - 01:33

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i use this part for first time. it is good. i wanna practice in this method .

Submitted by VINOTH THUYAMANI on Thu, 17/07/2014 - 15:09

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hello sir, am a newbie to this site. a small doubt how ''them & they'' can be classified as singular.

Submitted by Sekandar on Wed, 16/07/2014 - 22:30

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Hi I want to know more about " what's ... like?" how can i find the link? tnx

Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 17/07/2014 - 16:06

In reply to by Sekandar

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Hello Sekandar,

what's ... like is typically used to ask someone to describe someone or something. For example, if you find out I have a brother you've never met, you could ask me 'What's he like?' This means 'what kind of person is he?', and the answer would usually contain some description of his personality or character. Or if you found out that I'm from Brighton, you could ask 'what's it like?', meaning you'd like to know more about living there.

what and like are also often used as an alternative to how in asking about someone's opinion of or reaction to something. I don't think this is what you meant, but I'm explaining it just in case. For example, you can say 'How was the match?' to ask me about a rugby match I went to see. I could say it was very close, or I didn't enjoy it because my team lost, etc.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by yomlouise on Wed, 16/07/2014 - 09:15

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hi everybody i am new in this site ,i want to improve english.I am having many problems in pronounciation and listening.I need your help.

Hi yomlouise,

Welcome to LearnEnglish! Although it's hard for me to give you specific advice without knowing your English level at the moment, and knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are, I can make some general suggestions that I can make which will help you to improve these areas.

The good news is that listening and pronunciation go hand in hand. Listening to good models is a key part of improving pronunciation, and the natural speech you can find in the audio and video materials here on LearnEnglish will be ideal for providing this. I would recommend our very popular series Word on the Street for this: you will hear different voices in each episode and can use the transcripts to help you practise pronouncing the language yourself.

Aside from listening to models, it is also very important for you to speak English as often as possible.  To do this a partner is very helpful, so think about the people you know and consider if any of them could be a practice partner for you.  It may be that you know someone else who is also learning English and who would like to practise with you, or perhaps you know some people who do not speak your language but do speak English.  However, if you do not have a practice partner it does not mean that you cannot practise because it is possible to practise alone.  Just speaking English to yourself while you are at home, going about your normal daily activities, can help a great deal in making your speech as clear and easily understood as possible.

You can also use the audio and video materials here on LearnEnglish to improve your pronunciation. After doing the exercises, try listening with the transcript (listening and reading). Say the text yourself after the speakers on the recording so you can compare your pronunciation with the original. You can even record yourself so you can compare more easily.

Remember that pronunciation is a skill that we develop gradually over time, improving step by step rather than simply 'fixing' it like a broken engine. Keep going and you will make progress!

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by km2 on Mon, 14/07/2014 - 01:01

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Hi my name's Khalid I'm from Saudi I was speech English as a second language very will but I stop to use this skills more than teen years ago now I tray to remember the grammars and the vocabulary I hope you help me . with my best wishes to you and god bless you all

Hi Khalid,

It can be quite difficult to get back to where you were after a break, and it's important not to get frustrated when you are trying to remember things that once were easy.  The best approach, I think, is to work from listening and reading materials, so you see the language contextualised, which should help you to recall it, and then use the language sections of LearnEnglish to review particular elements as you come across them.

As I said, sometimes it takes a while to get back to where you were, but don't give up! With time and patience you will do it.

Best wishes and good luck,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

thank you Mr. peter I hope we enjoying to talk together and thanks' for good comment brother. I still need more time to remember the words and the spelling of

Submitted by MamaAisha on Sat, 12/07/2014 - 21:00

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Hi..in the above excercise i did the two sentences are contradicting me 1. I wanted to talk to someone in charge and tell....how I felt. I put him but when I checked out the answer was them, my question is why them which is plural instead of him/her which is singular? 2.Santosh I'v also seen those errors I think they are not right, but somebody can help us.

Hi MamaAisha,

The reason 'them' is the correct answer is that 'they/them' are often used to refer to people of indeterminate gender, i.e. a person when we don't know if that person is male or female. In this case, 'them' is actually singular.

If you knew that the person in charge was a woman, you could say 'her' instead of 'them', but since you don't know that in this case, the correct answer is 'them'.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by rahmat17 on Fri, 11/07/2014 - 13:58

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hi, i am new in here, when i see a rules about "don't scare to make mistake, i feel so happy, my english isn't good but i hope i can more better in english :)

Submitted by nour el hoda5 on Thu, 10/07/2014 - 14:41

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Hello everybody, Am new in this website, i want to learn envlish and speak it too. I need ur help. Have a nice date

Submitted by Mme Dory on Wed, 09/07/2014 - 07:17

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hi everybody :D i just join this website, and when they said that i have to don't scare to make mistakes, i was fell so funny >:o I left my university since a long time, and now i'm an engineer, but my English is too bad o.O Hope that i will really not scare in here...

Submitted by bking on Mon, 07/07/2014 - 18:02

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Hi , it is my first message , i have beginner level at english and i hope be better , so i need your help and advice to guid me to the right way for start learning . best wishes

Submitted by Kirk on Tue, 08/07/2014 - 18:02

In reply to by bking

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Hello bking,

Welcome to LearnEnglish! My first recommendation to you is to explore the site. This part, the Grammar Reference, is more of a reference than something to work through page by page. If you follow the links in the menu at the top (Home, Listen & Watch, etc.), you'll get an idea of what is available here.

Many users have told us that they've learned a lot from 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 work through the exercises that correspond to the sections you've listened to.

To work on improving your pronunciation and fluency, 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 varies according to context. Repeat these phrases until they're relatively easy to say.

This is slow work, but you'll be building up a repertoire of phrases that you'll be able to use fluently!

Good luck!

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Syed Burhan ahmed on Wed, 02/07/2014 - 11:51

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can I say ? I`m waiting for my wife . IT is late. in stead of saying SHE is late . :-)

Hi Syed,

You can say both sentences, though there is a slight difference in meaning. "It's late" means that in general, it is late in the day. "She's late" means that it is now past the time that you expected your wife to have arrived.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by santosh (not verified) on Tue, 01/07/2014 - 19:26

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Can you explain why some answer are wrong I am not able to understand please help me. in sentence no . I don't know why I invited the Johnsons.............. don't really like parties. Where do you want these bags? Shall I put.......over here? Have you talked to a lawyer?........ can tell you your rights. I wanted to talk to someone in charge and tell.....how I felt.

Hi santosh,

In the first two sentences you mention, the pronoun you use to complete the sentence (they in the first sentence, them in the second) must be plural, as the nouns the pronoun replaces (the Johnsons, these bags) are plural.

In the second two sentencs you ask about, they and them are the correct answers again since it is not clear whether the person referred to is a man or woman - as is explained above, "When we are not sure if we are talking about a man or a woman we use they/them."

By the way, if you click on the Finish button, the correct answers are displayed - that might help you with these and other exercises.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by santosh (not verified) on Mon, 30/06/2014 - 19:20

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I hope to learn even more better and lot of confusion & doubt in my mind are to be cleared through daily practice.

Submitted by virupakshi.gouda on Sun, 29/06/2014 - 07:44

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I need to improve my writing skills , Please guide me on the same

Hello virupakshi.gouda,

How to write depends upon what kind of writing you want to do, for what purpose you are writing and who the recipient is.  Different kinds of writing require different different language and different ways of organising the text, so I would advise you to take a look at as many different texts as you can.  In general, to improve your writing it's important to read and write as much as you can, so keep an eye out for good examples of letters, articles and so on.  Using the internet to read magazines and newspapers, and other text-types from online media, is a good idea.

If possible, you should get feedback from a teacher or knowledgeable friend on your writing. Unfortunately, we don't have the resources to give users individualised feedback on their writing, but you can still use LearnEnglish to do some work on your own.  You can respond to other users in the comment sections to carry on a written conversation, just as I am responding to you now. Good writers learn from reading other writers' texts, so you could learn a lot about writing from reading the content on the site. The Magazine might be a good place to start if this interests you. You can also of course carry on written conversations there in the comments.  On the other hand, if you are interested in academic writing, then our Writing for a Purpose section might be what you are looking for.

Whatever you do, try to spend at least 15 minutes several days per week reading and/or writing. When you have doubts, ask a friend or teacher, or you're also welcome to ask us periodically here by using the comments sections on each page, and we'll be happy to try to answer your questions.

I hope those suggestions are helpful for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Iris Gonçalves… on Sat, 28/06/2014 - 22:38

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Hi The LearnEnglish Team, Can you explain some doubt?In this statement below Have you talked to a lawyer?They can tell you your rights. Instead to use They.Why not use He. a lawyer is not plural. Thanks and Best Wishes.

Hi Iris,

In English we can use 'they' to refer to one person if we do not know, or do not wish to reveal, the gender of that person. It means the same as 'he or she' and takes a plural verb.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Magnolia white on Sat, 28/06/2014 - 15:52

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Hello there,I learnt English by myself,that's why I need help to improve my skills. Thank's for having me here.

Submitted by subhankar_saha2006 on Sat, 28/06/2014 - 08:56

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I want to speak in English fluently. so, please help me.

Hello subhankar_saha2006,

It's hard for me to give you specific advice without knowing how you speak at the moment.  However, there are some general suggestions that I can make which will help you to improve over time.  The most important thing you can do is to speak English as often as possible.  To do this a partner is very helpful, so think about the people you know and consider if any of them could be a practice partner for you.  It may be that you know someone else who is also learning English and who would like to practise with you, or perhaps you know some people who do not speak your language but do speak English.  However, if you do not have a practice partner it does not mean that you cannot practise because it is possible to practise alone.  Just speaking English to yourself while you are at home, going about your normal daily activities, can help a great deal with your fluency and can help you to feel more confident, which will help you to cut down your hesitating, one of the main problems in developing fluency.

You can also use the audio and video materials here on LearnEnglish to improve your fluency. After doing the exercises, try listening with the transcript (listening and reading). Then try saying the text yourself, and finally try saying it with (and at the same speed as) the recording. This will help you to develop speed in your speech, which is a key component of fluency.  You'll also pick up a lot of language as chunks - words which are often used together in set phrases - which you can use to communicate with less hesitation.

I hope those suggestions are helpful.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by obaid akhtar on Fri, 27/06/2014 - 19:54

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I want to be good writer and speaker in english , but my frist coice in speaking

Submitted by lobsangtenpa on Thu, 26/06/2014 - 22:01

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It is revise the grammar. Thank you very much. However, it is not so user friendly. One can't save the finished section and easily press to the next section. I hope that it will be available in near future. Because saving our finished lesson is helpful to observe and remind mistake and shortcoming of the language and grammar.

Hi Lobsang,

Thanks for your feedback on the exercises. I'm happy to report that we are in the process of revising the English Grammar section, and one of the new features will be a new exercise format. As much as we'd like for users to be able to save their work, I'm afraid that you still won't be able to save your work in the new version.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by zagrus on Thu, 26/06/2014 - 06:58

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Hi, Which of the following sentences is correct: " I, along with my brother, am going to Germany" or " I am, along with my brother, going to Germany" ? Thanks in advance

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 26/06/2014 - 08:53

In reply to by zagrus

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Hi zagrus,

Both of those sentences are correct.  The first one would be the more common, but neither is incorrect.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Felipe Agazzi on Sat, 21/06/2014 - 21:16

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I need to improve my English.

Submitted by anhkhoa on Fri, 20/06/2014 - 15:17

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Thank you for giving me to become a member of LearnEnglish Team, I will investigate more time in here to improve my English.

Submitted by gustavoalv (not verified) on Fri, 20/06/2014 - 15:05

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Hi Learning English. I review the content but I dont get why the sentence: "You could go to a doctor. They might help you." has They subject. I think it should be "You" because is talking about doctor just one not many doctors. Thanks!!!

Hi Gustavo,

It's true that doctor is singular, but as is mentioned above:

When we are not sure if we are talking about a man or a woman we use they/them.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by norhasrina bin… on Thu, 19/06/2014 - 10:00

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for an example of "Where do you want these bags?Shall I put ...... over here." My first answer is wrong because i put 'it' and then i made a correction to 'them' but i just wonder why the answer is 'them'?is it because of 'bags' are plural?am i right?

Hello norhasrina binti mohd idris,

Yes, you are correct.  We use the pronoun 'them' in this sentence because the noun 'bags' is plural.  Well worked out!

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SOILTECH on Wed, 18/06/2014 - 11:58

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Hi The LearnEnglish Team, I'm from Colombia and I'm new user. Could you help me with a question? Is this: When (what situations) I use the object pronouns? What are the object pronouns? Best regards