Personal pronouns in English


The following pronouns make a group of personal pronouns:

  • Singular
  • my
  • your
  • his
  • her
  • its
  • Plural
  • our
  • your
  • their

Number

All personal pronouns are used both in the singular and in the plural. The meaning of the first person plural pronoun we differs from the meaning of any plural noun, as e.g. girls denotes 'more than one girl'. The pronoun we donetes 'I and one or more others'.
We may either exlude the person spoken to:
Are we (Tom and I) satisfied? (i.e. '1st and 3rd person')
or
Are we (you and I) well-dressed? (i.e. '1st and 2nd person').

Gender

For the third person singular we distiguish three genders: masculine (h2), feminine (she), and neuter (it). The same goes for both possessive and reflexive pronouns.

Case

Personal pronouns distinguish three cases: subjective (I), objective (me), and genitive (my, mine):

Subjective case Objective case Genitive case
I me my, mine
you you your, yours
he him his, his
she her her, hers
it it it, its
we us our, ours
you you your, yours
they them their, theirs

Function

Personal pronouns function as substitutes of co-referential nouns in neighbouring clauses:
When Tom fell ill, he had to stay one month at home.
or When he fell ill, Tom had to stay one month at home.

Use

The subjective case is used in the following:
a. As subjects of a verb:
I want to buy a new car.
She will never get promoted

b. As subjective complements (i.e. complements of the verb to be): It is I
It was she who broke the window.

c. When there is a feeling that it is a real active subject of the sentence:
Let us make a deal, you and I.
Why don't we go to the cinema, I and she?

d. After as and then (conjunctions):
I study as hard as he (does).
I earn more than he (does).

e. After such as if the verb to be can be supplied:
I don't like such people as he ( = he is).
There is a variation if a preposition is used:
I don't want to sell my car to such a man as he/him.

f. In written language after but and except (conjunctions): All but he escaped.
There was no one except I who bought a rabbit.

The objective case
The objective case is preferred in the following:
a) As direct objects: e.g. I like him.
I don't intend to meet her.
b) As prepositional complements:
Yesterday, I spoke to them for at least an hour.
I don't want to go out with him.

c. As subjective complements (it is chiefly used in informal language):
It was him who broke the vase.

d. As subjects of sentences without a verb functioning a predicate:
Who failed the driving test? Me.
Who broke the window? Him.

e. After as and than (prepositions): I work as hard as him.
I earn more than her.

In spoken langauge after as and than:
He is taller than us.
She is more beautiful than them.

In written language after as and than if they are used with all and both
He is stronger than us all
She is smarter than them both.

After but, except
Everybody has read this book except me.
Everybody went to the gym but him.

The pronoun it

The pronoun it is used in the following cases:
1. As a substitute for things, animals or persons:
Where did you find this CD? I found it in the Internet.
What a nice cat! I guess it is yours.
How old is this child? It is four years old.
Who is it? It is Tom.

2. In expressions of time, distance, weather, etc.:
It is six o'clock.
How far is it to London? It is about 600 miles.
It is raining today.

3. As a substitute of an infinitive or an infinitival phrase at the beginning a sentence:
instead of:
To learn a foreign language is necessary nowadays.
we say:
It is necessary to learn a foreign language nowadays.

4. As a substitute of a clause at the beginning of a sentence:
e.g. instead of:
That he will swim across the river is certain. we say:
It is certain that he will swim across the river.

5. As a substitute of an -ing clause:
Do you like shopping? No, I hate it.
I don't enjoy reading detective stories. Tom, on the other hand, enjoys it.

6. As a subject of impersonal verbs:
It appears that you were right.
It seems that he will never come again.

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