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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Hi SOILTECH,

The object pronouns are the pronouns in the right column of the first table on this page (above). As is explained above, object pronouns are used as objects of verbs and as objects of prepositions. There are several examples just above the exercise.

If that doesn't help you, please write a couple of sentences in which you try to use object pronouns and we'll check to see if you've used them correctly.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by I am MM. on Wed, 11/06/2014 - 09:11

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I do not know that why the answer is not correct. Ex. I am Sally and this is Ron, My husband. We live near Newcastle. Pl. can I believe these test ?

Hello I am MM.,

That is correct. Did you just put the word "We" in the gap? If you click on Finish instead of Check Answers, it will show you both your answers and the correct answers.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Wild Wind on Wed, 04/06/2014 - 15:33

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Sorry, I don't know why is correct answer in task of grammar of personal pronouns. Task. Have you talked to a lawer? ... can tell you your rights. Correct answer is THEY. Why? Why answer is plural?

Hello Wild Wind,

As is explained just before the first examples on this page, "When we are not sure if we are talking about a man or a woman we use they/them." Since it's unclear whether this lawyer is a man or woman, they is used by many people.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

You are correct that the plural pronoun "they" doesn't make sense when used with a singular noun. It is grammatically incorrect, and was never used this way until the "politically correct" (P.C.) movement, starting with the feminist movement of the 1970's, forced its way into the language. Before, the pronoun "he" was assumed and used: "Have you talked to a lawyer? He can tell you your rights." This raised the ire of the P.C. crowd and the eventual solution was to use an incorrect combination of singular noun + plural pronoun. (Another solution was to use the made-up pronoun construct of "s/he".) Using "they" still grates on the ears of older people, but in another 20 years no one will remember or care, as language is a living thing and changes with common usage. :-)

Hello ligart,

The use of a pronoun for indeterminate gender is not the result of a 'politically correct' 1970s movement.  It is much older, with various forms dating back to Middle English at least, and possibly earlier.  The use of 'they' with singular meaning for indeterminate gender can be found in many texts:

Eche of theym sholde ... make theymselfe redy. (Caxton, Sonnes of Aymon (c. 1489))

There's not a man I meet but doth salute me / As if I were their well-acquainted friend. (Shakespeare, Comedy of Errors)

'Tis meet that some more audience than a mother, since nature makes them partial, should o'erhear the speech (Shakespeare, Hamlet)

The use of 'he' as the only correct form for such references is actually a relatively modern phenomenon, dating to the relatively conservative educational movements of the eighteenth century.  In this context, the modern use of 'they' is a return to a traditional form, not an imposed neologistic use.

You can find more examples, and more information on the relevant wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender-specific_and_gender-neutral_pronouns)

 

Moving away from the historical side of things, our role here on LearnEnglish is to help users to learn modern English as it is currently spoken and written.  As you correctly say, all languages are living systems which constantly evolve and develop and we do not impose value judgements on the changes that occur.  In modern English the use of 'they' as a non-gender specific pronoun is well-established and is considered the norm, and so that is what we explain to our users, without any political or personal value judgement.  It is certainly not an 'incorrect' form in any way but is rather the standard use, deviation from which could be interpreted negatively by some audiences.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for the explanation. It is helpful. I wondered about those two sentences; - I wanted to talked to someone in charge and tell them how I felt. - Have you talked to a lawyer? They can tell you your rights. But now it's quite clear, English is a living language that grows as well as the time goes on. Thank!!!

Submitted by kentrinh92 on Tue, 03/06/2014 - 12:15

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hi i am a new leaner with this site just wonder that how can i correct my grammar and where i can start?

Hello kentrinh92,

You can start anywhere you like - there is no set order for most of the site. You might want to spend some exploring the site using the menu at the top (Home, Listen & Watch, etc.) so that you know what's available.

We are a very small team and LearnEnglish has millions of users, so unfortunately we can't provide individualised feedback to users. If, however, you have a question about a specific sentence, you're welcome to ask us.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Juliet Bravo on Thu, 22/05/2014 - 10:54

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For many years I have thought if one was not sure if it should be 'me' or 'I,' one took the other person out of the sentence. For example, Fred and me went to the shop; so, take Fred out and then it is clear it should be 'I.' However, several of my colleagues say 'thank you for meeting with Sarah and I.' Surely, on the above basis, it should be 'thank you for meeting me?'

Hello Juliet Bravo,

In the past a sentence such as 'Fred and me went to the shop' would have been considered incorrect as the pronoun is, grammatically speaking, the subject and not the object of the verb.  However, this rule has become less stringently followed over the years and many people now use 'me' in such sentences.  Similarly, grammatically we would say that after a preposition ('with') we need an object, and so 'me' is needed and 'I' is incorrect.  Again, however, the rule is not necessarily followed in modern English, even though many would consider it incorrect to use 'I'.

I hope that answers your question.  Rules are often broken in all languages, and this leads to changes in those rules over time as part of the natural evolution of the language.  For what it is worth, personally I would always say 'Fred and I went to the shop' and 'Thank you for meeting Sarah and me'.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by gentleman128 on Wed, 21/05/2014 - 23:48

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english clauses mean english phrases,right :)?

Hi gentleman128,

This is explained in some detail on our clause, phrase and sentence page. Technically, a clause is differerent from a phrase because a clause has a subject and a verb, whereas phrases do not. On this page where it says "English clauses always have a subject", it's just pointing out that conjugated verbs in English always have a subject noun or pronoun. This is because in many languages, for example, Spanish or Tibetan, the subject is frequently omitted.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by HPIO on Mon, 19/05/2014 - 14:11

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Hello guys Lets work together.

Submitted by Analiza on Mon, 19/05/2014 - 10:13

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hello guys i m Analiza want to go Canada therefore spend time on British council site hope you guys help me

Submitted by aziz ur rehman on Sun, 18/05/2014 - 14:21

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hey guys im new here need ur help..

Hello aziz ur rehman,

What exactly do you need help with?  The more specific you can be, the more helpful we will be able to be...

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by vasanthkali05 on Wed, 14/05/2014 - 07:42

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Hi Kirk, I recently came to know and joined. I am very happy, that i can learn basic grammar. I started with pronouns. I am bit confused about 'Subject Pronoun' & 'Object Pronoun' Please correct me if i am wrong. 1) Can you help me please? 'Can' is subjective Pronoun & 'me' is Objective Pronoun 2) I can see you. 'I' is subjective Pronoun & 'you' is Objective Pronoun 3) She doesn’t like him. 'She' is subjective Pronoun & 'him' is Objective Pronoun 4) I saw her in town today. 'I' is subjective Pronoun & 'her' is Objective Pronoun 5) We saw them in town yesterday, but they didn’t see us. 'We' is subjective Pronoun & 'them' is Objective Pronoun 'they' is subjective Pronoun & 'us' is Objective Pronoun As per my understanding before verb is Subjective pronoun & after verb is Objective Pronoun. Thanks, B Kali Vara Prasad.

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 15/05/2014 - 14:39

In reply to by vasanthkali05

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Hello vasanthkali05,

The subject is the person or thing which perform the action of the verb; the object is the person or thing which the verb acts upon.

1) 'Can' is a verb, not a pronoun; 'me' is the object pronoun; 'you' is the subject pronoun.

2) 'I' is the subject pronoun & 'you' is the object pronoun

3) 'She' is the subject pronoun & 'him' is the object pronoun

4) 'I' is the subject pronoun & 'her' is the object pronoun

5) 'We' is the subject pronoun & 'them' is the object pronoun; 'they' is the subject pronoun & 'us' is the object pronoun

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by comet on Wed, 14/05/2014 - 05:54

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Explanation and exercise are very useful for beginner. Thanks a lot !

Hello ahmadlavasani,

The House Rules prohibit users from sharing personal information such as email addresses or Skype IDs, so I'm afraid at present you cannot do this here. We are working on a solution to this, however, so please look for it here in the future.

You can still learn a lot on your own. Many of users have reported that they've managed to improve by using the Elementary Podcasts. Start with the first episode of one of the series. 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.

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 in your speaking!

Good luck!

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by rishi.singh on Tue, 13/05/2014 - 11:35

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It is very use full.

Submitted by piyush1154 on Sun, 11/05/2014 - 17:59

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Exercise is good to do!!!

Submitted by HARENDRA SINGH BISHT on Tue, 06/05/2014 - 06:08

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Hello Team, First off all thanks to all of you. You guys are doing great work and I feel blessed to be learning from you. I have few questions kindly let me know which of the following is correct sentence and which is not. 1.Tom or Tina forgot her book. 2. Tom or Tina forgot his book. 3. Either Tom or Tina forgot her book. 4. Either Tom or Tina forgot his book. 5. Either Tom or Students forgot his book. 6. Either Tom or Students forgot their book. The question is does personal pronoun agrees with closest subject??

Hi Harendra,

I suppose that when you ask about "personal pronouns", you are asking about the words "her", "his" and "their". In this case, they are not pronouns, but rather act as a kind of adjective, since they are modifying the word "book".

"her" would refer to Tina, "his" would refer to Tom, and "their" would refer to both of them - it's not that these adjectives refer to the closest subject, they refer to a subject of a specific gender and/or number. Therefore, depending on what you mean, your use of these adjectives is correct in all of the sentences, though they sound very strange. This is because, for example in sentence 1, "her" clearly refers to Tina, so mentioning Tom does not make sense. I'd recommend either "Tina forgot her book" or "Either Tom or Tina forgot their book".

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by prince khan on Tue, 06/05/2014 - 04:54

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good its very usful for all

Submitted by sanve on Mon, 05/05/2014 - 10:11

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Hi everybody!! This is my first time and I hope to learn a lot and improve my english

Submitted by krehman on Fri, 02/05/2014 - 08:40

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A new comer. My 1 great learning lesson ... only number twelve was confusing ))

Submitted by Nguyên Cát on Wed, 30/04/2014 - 04:43

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Thank British Council for the first lesson of mine :) . Can you explain me the exercise numbered 12? Why is the correct answer is "they" instead of "he or she"? Thank you.

Hello Nguyên Cát,

In English we use 'they' ('them', 'their' etc.) when we do not know the gender of the person.  It effectively means 'he or she'.  In the sentence in the exercise we do not know if the lawyer is a man or a women, so 'they' is the best alternative.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by adam13 on Mon, 28/04/2014 - 19:51

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Its very very usefull

Submitted by tejani on Fri, 25/04/2014 - 19:35

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hello...Muszkatel first of all thank to me advice and i am surly watch those video. but i have some question about i have attend first prepositions test, i have face some problem like i have given anwser and fill samall (i) but anser is wrong and i have fill CAPITAL (I) that is true what is deference between them so i have little confuse please tell me

Submitted by Muszkatel on Sun, 20/04/2014 - 13:24

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Hello to Everyone! I love this webside! Thanks for doing it! Today I stuck with the ... "motorboat". I know about the ship we have to say "she". - John bougth new ship. She is wondrful!! What about : John bought new motorboat! She? it? is wonderful! + ......... new yacht . She or it??? Many thanks!

Hello Muszkatel,

Thanks for your feedback - it's always great to hear that people find LearnEnglish useful!

"she" is often used to refer to any kind of ship, though you can also use "it". It doesn't matter whether it's a small rowboat, a cruise ship or a motorboat - you have the same two options ("she" and "it") for all of them.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sunita ohri on Sat, 19/04/2014 - 11:36

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hello i am new student

Submitted by kiyara19 on Fri, 18/04/2014 - 15:22

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hii, i'm new here, my name Hendrik , i'm from in Indonesia, first time my answer correct 13 % , my english skill really bad :(

Submitted by Satria Danu Wibowo on Tue, 15/04/2014 - 10:18

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hai guru is it my english is enough good ?? or still bad ?? i'm Satria from Indonesia. it's really nice to join study english here nice to meet you all

Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 18/04/2014 - 08:13

In reply to by Satria Danu Wibowo

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Hello Satria Danu Wibowo,

Welcome to LearnEnglish!  I'm afraid I don't really have any way to say how good your English is, but I can say that if you study hard and regularly then it will improve.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by art-nashwa on Tue, 15/04/2014 - 01:18

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Oh, I failed to answer 50% write.

Submitted by mjd_93 on Mon, 14/04/2014 - 20:37

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I need to learn conjunction how I get the lesson ?

Hi mjd_93,

There is a list of common conjunctions on our sentence structure page - you'll also see some examples of them in use there. After you've worked through that, if you'd like to work on more, then please let us know.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team