Personal Pronouns - Rules and Examples

What are Personal Pronouns? 

I love cats. He loves dogs. We love animals.

In the sentences above, what are the italicized words? They’re personal pronouns!

A personal pronoun is a word that stands in for another noun in a sentence.

For example, let’s say our names are Emily and Persephone. So, we could say “Emily and Persephone love animals.” Or, we could say “We love animals.”

As another example, let’s talk about Pablo. Pablo loves dogs. Pablo also loves horses. If we wrote “Pablo loves dogs, and Pablo also loves horses,” that would sound  a bit strange. Instead, we can say “Pablo loves dogs, and he loves horses.”

personal pronoun examples

Personal pronouns can replace any noun in a sentence, but there are a few different rules to follow. These have to do with person and case, which we’ll describe below.

The complete list of personal pronouns in English:

  • I, me
  • you (singular)
  • he, him
  • she, her
  • it
  • we, us
  • you (plural)
  • they, them

Person

There are three “persons” in grammar, and this tells us something about who is speaking or being spoken to in a sentence. 

Here are the options:

  • First person: the person who is speaking
  • Second person: the person who is spoken to
  • Third person: anyone else besides the first two, or the person who is being spoken about

You probably already know this without realizing you do. For example, it’s the difference between these sentences:

  • I go to school. (I am the person speaking or doing the action. The sentence is from my point of view.)
  • You go to school. (I am talking to you, the person who is doing the action of the sentence.)
  • She goes to school. (The person who does the action isn’t part of this conversation. She is the one I’m talking about.)

Also, the “person” doesn’t have to be a human. It could be an animal or thing, such as a piece of furniture or a profession. 

Each of these “persons” can be divided into 2 categories: singular and plural. For example, first person can be one speaker or a group that includes that one person. The same goes for second and third person. 

Here are the pronouns associated with these different “persons”: 

  • First person: 
    undefinedundefined
  • Second person: you (singular and plural)
  • Third person: 
    undefinedundefined

Cases: Subject and Object

Another feature of personal pronouns is case. And this refers to the role the pronoun plays in a sentence. 

If the pronoun is the subject of a sentence, then it is the thing doing the action in that sentence. And we say that this pronoun is a subject pronoun, or a pronoun in the nominative case

The subject pronouns in English are these:

  • I, you (singular), he, she, it, you (plural), they

If the action in the sentence is happening to someone, we say they are the object of that sentence. In this case, we use an object pronoun, or a pronoun in the objective case

The object pronouns in English are these:

  • me, you (singular), him, her, it, us, you (plural), them

Personal Pronoun Examples

First Person Singular

Subject Pronoun: I

  • I want to go to the movies.
  • Tomorrow, I will go to school at 9am.
  • Instead of broccoli, I want spinach for dinner.

Object Pronoun: Me

  • What do you want me to do?
  • Molly gave me a homemade cookie.
  • Charles didn’t tell me about the test.

First Person Plural

Subject Pronoun: We

  • We never arrive late.
  • Yesterday, we went swimming at the pond.
  • Although it’s hard, we like to play chess.

Object Pronoun: Us

  • Please tell us if you need to leave the exam early.
  • It doesn’t matter to us if Nikolette misses class.
  • Will you send us a letter from Somalia?

Second Person Singular

Subject Pronoun: You

  • You eat ice cream every day.
  • You have explored many places.
  • Without water, you would die.

Object Pronoun: You

  • Ms. Rockville gave you the assignment?
  • What did the doctor tell you?

Sienna asked you for advice.

Second Person Plural

In many sentences you can’t tell whether “you” is singular or plural – you need to understand that from context.

Sometimes people say or write “you all” or “y’all” if it’s plural. However, this is generally not accepted in formal or academic writing.

Subject Pronoun: You (all)

  • You (all) can see the dolphins if you look over the side of the boat.
  • You (all) have a biology test on Monday, so please don’t be late.
  • After class, you (all) need to go straight to the cafeteria.

Object Pronoun: You (all)

  • I’m jealous of you (all)! You don’t have to take English this year!
  • Has Cindy talked to you (all) about the meeting?
  • I know Mr. Leo made you (all) hate math, but it’s actually a fun subject.

Third Person Singular

He and she are used for people, and often we use it for animals, too. He is for males and she is for females.

People sometimes use it for animals, but we mainly use it for anything that isn’t a human or animal, such as plants, objects, or concepts.

Subject Pronoun: He, She, It

  • He loves his new sneakers.
  • Look at that giraffe! He’s so tall!
  • Last year he traveled to Switzerland.

  • She won the spelling bee two years ago.
  • Every Sunday, she visits her grandmother.
  • I love Carlotta’s new puppy. She’s so cute!

  • This new computer is so frustrating. It doesn’t work like my old one!
  • Did you see the superhero movie last year? It was really exciting.
  • Look at that flower! It is so beautiful.

Object Pronoun: Him, Her, It

  • When did you see him?
  • My brother had dinner with him last week.
  • There’s a new kid at school. He’s really nice, and I like him a lot.

  • Did you meet the iguana named Joy? I love her!
  • Roderick spoke with her yesterday, but the meeting didn’t go well.
  • Have you talked to her since Monday?

  • Why do you like Monopoly? I hate it.
  • My new computer program confuses me because I don’t know how to use it.
  • I grew zucchini in my garden, and Dad fried it for dinner.

Third Person Plural

Subject Pronoun: They

  • At parties, they never talk to me.
  • My cat had a litter of kittens, and they are adorable.
  • Have you been to amusement parks before? They are so much fun!

Object Pronoun: Them

  • Why don’t you sit with them? They look like nice people.
  • Chickens are entertaining. I love to watch them flap their wings.
  • Plastic containers are a nuisance because I can never store them properly.

Singular “They”

Who are they? 

Most of the time, they is a plural word. But you can use it as a singular pronoun in a very specific situation. 

When you’re talking about a person or an animal and you don’t know the gender, you can use they/them. Since we don’t use it for people, they is the appropriate non-gendered personal pronoun. 

For example: 

  • I haven’t introduced myself to the new student yet because they’re always surrounded by people. 
  • That coat looks great on them
  • I haven’t met your new partner. Will you invite them to brunch?

Practicing Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns are a really important part of the foundation of English. And you probably already use them every day!

There are a few tricky things, such as figuring out the correct gender and number. Also, you need to know whether to use a subject or object pronoun.

But once you master these pronouns, your sentences will come together easily.

I promise you.

If you enjoyed this article, check out the other pages on our site. There are lots of great grammar topics to explore!


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