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Personal Pronouns

What is a Personal Pronoun?

A personal pronoun is a pronoun that is associated primarily with a particular person, in the grammatical sense.

When discussing “person” in terms of the grammatical, the following rules apply:

  • First person, as in “I”
  • Second person, as in “you”
  • Third person, as in “It, he, she”

Personal pronouns may take on various forms depending on number (singular or plural for the most part). They may also take different forms depending on case, gender, or formality. It is important to note that personal pronouns may refer to objects, animals, or people.

Personal pronouns provide us with the following information:

  • The person – Who is speaking?
  • The number – Is the pronoun plural or singular?
  • The gender – Is the pronoun feminine, masculine, or neuter?

Examples of Personal Pronouns

The word “he” is an example of a personal pronoun. He is third person (because he is the person being spoken about), singular, and masculine. The word “we” is another example of a personal pronoun. We is first person (because we are speaking as a group), plural, and neuter.

In the following examples, personal pronouns are italicized.

  1. You need to stop lying to me.
  2. We would love for you to join us.
  3. Come look at my cat! He has climbed to the top of that tree.

Personal Pronouns as Subject Pronouns

When a personal pronoun takes the place of a noun as the subject of a sentence, it is both a personal pronoun and a subject pronoun. What is a subject pronoun? In essence, it’s any pronoun that is used to replace a common or proper noun as a sentence’s subject.

If you are using a personal pronoun to talk about a person, animal, place, or thing that also happens to be the subject of a sentence, then it is classified as both a personal pronoun and a subject pronoun.

Personal Pronouns as Object Pronouns

When a personal pronoun is the direct or indirect object of a verb, or when it is used as the object of a preposition, it is called an object pronoun. What is an object pronoun? It’s any pronoun that is affected by the action the subject of the sentence takes.

The personal pronouns that are used as object pronouns are different than the personal pronouns that are used as subject pronouns, but they are just as important. There are seven object pronouns that also happen to be personal pronouns: me, you, him, her, it, us, and them.

How Are Subject Pronouns and Object Pronouns Related to Personal Pronouns?

Like all personal pronouns, subject pronouns and object pronouns are used to eliminate repetition within sentences. Additionally, they are always associated with a specific person, group, animal, or inanimate object.

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between subject and object pronouns. It can be helpful to remember that a subject is what a sentence is about, while an object is affected by the action of the subject.

Just like other personal pronouns, subject pronouns and object pronouns can take on different forms depending on number, i.e. whether they are singular or plural. Additionally, they can be used with any of the three grammatical persons, i.e. first-person, second-person, or third-person.

Finally, subject pronouns and object pronouns are related to one another and all other personal pronouns in that the words used may differ depending on the natural or grammatical gender of the words they refer to.

Examples of Sentences Containing Both Subject Pronouns & Object Pronouns

  1. I want you to read this book.
  2. You are the fastest runner on the team, and we’re depending on you.
  3. They talked to me about acting in the play.
  4. We enjoyed hearing her sing.

Comparing Subject and Object Pronouns

Use the following table to compare subject and object pronouns. Notice that some subject pronouns are identical to certain object pronouns.

Subject Pronoun Object Pronoun
It It
You You
What What
I Me
He Him
She Her
We Us
Who Whom
They Them

 

Personal Pronoun Exercises

The following exercises will help you gain greater understanding about how personal pronouns work. Choose the best answer to complete each sentence.

  1. __________ often reads until late at night.
    1. He
    2. Alan
    3. Mary
    4. They
  2. __________ is running up and down the stairs.
    1. The cat
    2. She
    3. My brother
    4. You
  3. __________ is from Ireland.
    1. Rory
    2. My friend
    3. He
    4. This souvenir
  4. Have __________ got a dog, Mary?
    1. Anyone
    2. They
    3. Someone
    4. It
  5. We enjoy the roses so much. __________ really liven up the garden.
    1. They
    2. Its
    3. Someone
    4. Flowers
  6. Melissa isn’t an architect; __________ is an engineer.
    1. He
    2. They
    3. It
    4. She
  7. Are __________ friends or not?
    1. He
    2. She
    3. We
    4. It
  8. My doctor was born in Germany. __________ teaches language lessons in his spare time.
    1. They
    2. It
    3. She
    4. He
  9. All of my teachers are Americans. __________ come from all over the country.
    1. She
    2. We
    3. They
    4. Them
  10. Our friends are athletes. All of __________ are either strong, fast, or both.
    1. We
    2. They
    3. Them
    4. You

Answers:

  1. A – He often reads until late at night.
  2. B – She is running up and down the stairs.
  3. C – He is from Ireland.
  4. B – Have they got a dog, Mary?
  5. A – We enjoy the roses so much. They really liven up the garden.
  6. D – Melissa isn’t an architect; she is an engineer.
  7. C – Are we friends or not?
  8. D – My doctor was born in Germany. He teaches language lessons in his spare time.
  9. C – All of my teachers are Americans. They come from all over the country.
  10. C – Our friends are athletes. All of them are either strong, fast, or both.

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