What are Personal Pronouns?
Personal Pronouns are short words that replace or substitute nouns. Their main purpose is to avoid repetition and act similarly to nouns. Personal pronouns specify the gender and number of their antecedents or the nouns they replace: I, you, he, she, it, we, and they. They are also categorized according to points of view such as the first, second, and third-person points of view. The word “personal” may refer to people, but these pronouns can also be used to substitute animals, objects, places, and ideas. Personal pronouns are considered the base forms of other types and usage of pronouns. Their forms vary according to the three types of information they provide:
- Person – indicates who is spoken about
- Number – indicates how many people are being referred to
- Gender – indicates if the noun replaces is male, female, or neutral
Here are examples of personal pronouns in sentences:
- The group was exhausted after they practiced the dance all afternoon.
- Hubert should take his car to the car wash after driving through muddy terrain.
- The building is old and its design echoes the Spanish Revival style of the 1900s.
- Thelma wanted to go out so she took her children to the park near a café.
- You should delegate more tasks to me; I am usually already finished by lunch.
Personal Pronouns Rules
The following table is a comprehensive guide of rules followed by the different types and forms of pronouns:
|Personal Pronouns POV||A personal pronoun changes form according to points of view: the first, second, and third person.|
First Person: I, me, my, mine, myself, we, us, our, ours, ourselves
Second Person: You, your, yours, yourself, yourselves
Third Person: He, she, it, him, her, his, her, its, hers, himself, herself, itself, they, them, their, theirs, themselves
|Singular and Plural Personal Nouns||Personal Pronouns change form according to their number.|
Singular Pronouns: I, me, my, mine, myself, you, your, yours, yourself, he, she, it, him, her, his, hers, its, himself, herself, itself
– I was surprised by her bravery.
– Harry caught himself staring out his window.
– My dog chased its own tail around in circles.
Plural Pronouns: We, us, our, ours, ourselves, you, your, yours, yourselves, they, them, their, theirs, themselves
– Let’s prove to ourselves that we can achieve our goals with determination.
– Look inside yourself to improve your attitude.
– They themselves couldn’t believe that they made it to the peak.
|Subjective Case and Objective Case of Personal Pronouns||As a replacement for nouns, personal pronouns can assume the same functions as subjects and objects of sentences and clauses. They must follow their correct forms in these roles.|
Subjective Case: I, we, you, he, she, it, they
– The See family is rich. They own several factories.
– Can you ask Lydia if she wants to order the bag?
– Paul is asking if he should report to the flagship store tomorrow.
Objective Case: Me, us, you, him, her, it, them
– We should give them the benefit of the doubt.
– Have you talked to her about the broken equipment?
– Tae-jin handed the keys to me.
|Possessive Determiners and Possessive Pronouns||As possessives, pronouns change form according to the nouns they replace. As possessive pronouns, they replace the objects or things that are owned. As possessive determiners, they replace the owners.|
Possessive Determiners: My, our, your, his, her, its, their
– It’s their job to monitor the contractors.
– Is Miss Abad still in her office?
– Our son is becoming difficult to discipline.
Possessive Pronouns: Mine, ours, yours, his, hers, its, theirs
– Those are Killian’s shoes; these are mine.
– After I finish these requests, I will entertain yours.
– It’s not your mistake, Bob. It’s hers.
|Reflexive and Intensive Pronouns||As reflexive and intensive pronouns, personal pronouns add the suffixes –self or –selves after them.|
Reflexive and Intensive Pronouns: Myself, ourselves, yourself, yourselves, himself, herself, itself, themselves
– Thom made all the travel arrangements himself.
– I myself am a little bit conflicted about his proposal.
– The manager herself stepped in to deal with the difficult customer.
Examples of Personal Pronouns
1. As subjects
- Roella is not in a good mood. She had a small accident in the parking lot.
- My son is crying because he scraped his knee on the concrete.
- They aren’t seeing anybody at this time.
- Where did we go wrong in the campaign process?
- You should follow up on the repair request to make sure it’s expedited.
2. As objects
- Those are very cute dresses. Where did you buy them?
- You should call Jessa immediately and tell her the good news!
- Let me ring up the suit. Do you want to any alterations to it?
- They have done their part, so the next steps are up to us.
- I gave him the promotion because his annual sales are double the rest.
3. As possessives
- It’s their duty to man the desks at all times.
- You should step away because that decision is his to make.
- These are my paintings but I’m afraid every single one is already sold.
- I’m worried about the cat and its strange eating habit.
- Why do they think they have a say in the property? It’s ours.
4. As reflexive/intensive pronouns
- Samson is always taking himself seriously.
- Lisa herself went to the head office to complain.
- I talk to myself sometimes and I don’t find it weird.
- The members themselves know that they messed up.
- There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself once in a while.
Personal Pronouns Exercises with Answers
Exercise on Personal Pronouns
Complete each of the following sentences by choosing the best answer.
1. Marcella’s son Jabidah is so active. __________ likes to run all the time.
a. My son
2. Carl and his wife Dianne are from the same town. __________ were almost neighbors.
3. My brother Ray is a bookworm. __________ often reads until the wee hours.
b. My Brother
4. So, Talia, do __________ have any pets?
5. Kyle and I quit the company last year. __________ now run a firm together.
1. b: Marcella’s son Jabidah is so active. He likes to run all the time.
2. b: Carl and his wife Dianne are from the same town. They were almost neighbors.
3. a: My brother Ray is a bookworm. He often reads until the wee hours.
4. a: So, Talia, do you have any pets?
5. d: Kyle and I quit the company last year. We now run a firm together.
Personal Pronouns List
Let’s look at the comprehensive table below that lists personal pronouns and all their various forms:
|Person||Subjective Case||Objective Case||Possessive Determiner||Possessive Pronoun||Reflexive Case|
|1st Person Singular||I||Me||My||Mine||Myself|
|1st Person Plural||We||Us||Our||Ours||Ourselves|
|2nd Person Singular||You||You||Your||Yours||Yourself|
|2nd Person Plural||You||You||Your||Yours||Yourselves|
|3rd Person Singular||He/She/It||Him/Her/It||His/Her/Its||His/Hers/Its||Himself/Herself/Itself|
|3rd Person Plural||They||Them||Their||Theirs||Themselves|
Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners
|Use Grammar Lists||As you’ve seen in this article, English language learning tools such as lists, tables, and charts are helpful guides. They can’t substitute for books. But they trim down complex grammatical concepts into simplified tidbits that are easy to use for comparisons and quick reviews. Still, the critical way to benefit from this method is to fashion your own lists from your English lessons. Your materials will be personalized according to your own study habits and preferences. Creating lists also affords you more time with whatever grammar subject you’re studying, which promotes better retention.|
|Use Audio-Visual Resources||Independent learning is a vital part of studying languages because you can’t rely exclusively on English classes. Unless you’re studying, say, 3 hours a day 5 days a week, you won’t achieve fluency within any set timeframe. To enjoy the maximum benefits of self-directed instruction, you should use the right tools, and English media is one of them. By integrating your favorite TV shows, social media channels, films, and podcasts into your daily study schedule, you’ll be exposed to how English speakers, both native and non-native, use the language in any context: social, academic, and professional. This will dramatically increase your vocabulary and sentence construction skills provided that you use them with the intention of learning language elements (useful expressions, humor, wordplay, specific vocabulary, and so on) from the material.|
|Practical Use||If you use the majority of your time on books but don’t spend substantial a period on actual English conversations, you could reach advanced levels in grammar but still have a hard time talking at length. The only real way of using what you’ve learned is to apply it. Unluckily for most English language learners, they live or study in places where English isn’t widely used. If you find yourself in this position, remember that there’s always a way to make an environment for yourself where you can explore the English language with others who share your goals. You can organize a discussion group with your classmates and friends; and whenever possible, build and nurture friendships with both native and non-native speakers. Not only will you be helpful to each other’s English learning, but you’ll also develop social and cultural intelligence. Consistent practice is important. It will improve your proficiency in ways that aren’t possible with books alone.|
Common Errors Made by English Learners
|Subject-verb agreement||Since pronouns replace nouns, they also fall under the same rules, the most important of which is subject-verb agreement. Singular pronouns must use singular verbs and plural pronouns must use plural verbs. For example:|
– She is my cousin.
– He runs fast.
– They are employees of the firm.
– They work efficiently.
With possessive pronouns, you must apply subject-verb rules to the antecedents. Let’s look at how they’re used as subjects:
– For a startup company, theirs is quite successful. (the antecedent “startup company” is singular)
– She planted so many flowers and all of hers bloomed beautifully. (the antecedent “flowers” is plural)
|Subjective and Objective Case||A common error in using personal pronouns is using the wrong case. Make sure that you use the right one as pronouns functioning as subjects can’t be used as objects. Subjective pronouns are also not used as objects of prepositions. The subjective pronoun “I” is usually the recipient of this mistake. Here are some incorrect expressions:|
– after I and my brother
– between you and I
– greetings from I and my family
The pronoun “you” is a chameleon as it has the same subjective and objective forms. It can also be singular and plural and can refer to all genders.
|Punctuation||While it’s true that apostrophes are used to show possession with nouns (e.g., Mom’s lasagna, Gerald’s car, Harriet’s store, and so on), you can’t use them with possessive pronouns. Ever. Pronouns with apostrophes are contractions and not possessives.|
Learning Strategies and Best Practices with Personal Pronouns
The following list includes points to remember when studying personal pronouns:
- In writing, it’s standard practice to mention an antecedent before using a personal pronoun. In speaking, if the people involved in a conversation are privy to the subject (nouns) they’re talking in reference to, antecedents aren’t required. Most sentence examples in grammar guides (like this article) use sentences without antecedents for a more straightforward presentation, but always with the assumption that the antecedents have been previously mentioned. Also, it has to be stated that the rule of antecedents doesn’t generally apply to the pronouns I, me, and you as they refer to obvious subjects (the person speaking or writing or the people being spoken to or written for).
- It’s ironic to say that there is no singular neutral personal pronoun, unlike the masculine “he” and the feminine “she”. You certainly can’t use “it” even if it is neutral. However, we have been using “their” to serve that purpose. For example, the sentence “One person in the choir is anxious and they want to have more practice.” Since “one person” is neither masculine nor feminine, we use “they” as a substitute.
- Don’t use “myself” when giving an order. As a reflexive pronoun, the word “myself” should reflect back to its subject. When you give an order or a request, it’s clear that “you” (the person you’re talking to) is the subject, so the word “yourself” would be the correct one to use. “Write Jonah or myself if you have a question” is wrong. The correct way is “Write Jonah or me if you have a question.”
Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand possessive pronouns and types of pronouns.
Personal Pronouns Frequently Asked Questions
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