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Personal Pronouns

Personal Pronouns

You're probably aware of the term pronoun by now. But did you know there are multiple different types of pronouns? There are personal, possessive, and demonstrative pronouns, to list just a few.

Today, we will look at personal pronouns and how they can be categorized into different types. We'll look at plural and singular personal pronouns, the three cases of personal pronouns, and subject personal pronouns. All of these will be accompanied by examples, so you'll be able to identify and analyze different types of personal pronouns when conducting language analysis.

Personal Pronouns: Pronouns

So, what is a pronoun?

A pronoun is a small word that can be used to replace nouns or noun phrases. Pronouns can be used to refer to people, animals, or objects.

There are several different types of pronouns. These are:

  • Personal pronouns (I, you, them, we)
  • Relative pronouns (who, whom, which, that)
  • Reflexive pronouns (myself, himself, ourselves, themselves)
  • Indefinite pronouns (somebody, each, fewer, most)
  • Demonstrative pronouns (this, that, those, these)
  • Interrogative pronouns (what, whose, which, who)
  • Reciprocal pronouns (each other, one another)
  • Possessive pronouns (mine, yours, ours, theirs)

In this article, we'll consider possessive pronouns as a type of personal pronoun.

Personal Pronouns person with case StudySmarter

Fig 1. Pronouns can be used to replace nouns when referring to people, animals, or objects.

Today, we're looking specifically at personal pronouns.

Personal Pronouns List

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of personal pronouns, let's first have a look at a list of examples.

  • I
  • we
  • you
  • they
  • she
  • it
  • him
  • hers
  • mine
  • yours

These are some examples of personal pronouns and can be separated into different categories of personal pronoun. We'll have a look at the different types now.

Types of Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns differ from other pronouns in that they are used specifically to refer to a person, animal, or multiple people in speech or writing. This means that pronouns such as this, that, and which are not personal pronouns.

Personal pronouns can be used to show a range of grammatical functions:

  • Person (e.g., first person I, second person you, third person he)

  • Number (e.g., plural us or singular I)

  • Gender (e.g., he or she)

  • Case (e.g., nominative he, possessive his, objective him)

These can be confusing terms but don't worry, we'll come on to each in turn after looking at some examples of personal pronouns.

Personal Pronouns and Grammatical Person

In grammar, pronouns and verbs can be referred to as being in the first, second, or third person.

Grammatical person refers to the distinction between the speaker, listener, and others, i.e., who is talking. The grammatical person of a piece of text or speech can be shown through the pronouns and verbs used.

First Person

The first person is used when the speaker is referring to themselves.

For example:

I see the birds.

We ran to the shore.

Second Person

The second person is used when the reader is being directly addressed.

For example:

You see the birds.

You ran to the shore.

Third Person

The third person is used when a character or person is being referred to indirectly.

For example:

She sees the birds.

They ran to the shore.

Personal Pronouns and Number

By number, we are referring to whether a pronoun is singular or plural. The only pronouns that don't change depending on number are you and your which remain the same when referring to both singular people and multiple people.

Personal Pronouns Group of people StudySmarter

Fig 2. Personal pronouns can differ depending on how many people are being referred to. For example she for one person and they for three people.

Here is a list of singular and plural pronouns:

Singular

Plural

Iyouhe / she / ithim / hermemyyourhis / hersweyoutheythemusoursyourtheirs

Personal Pronouns and Gender

Pronouns can be used to show gender. The gendered personal pronouns are he, she, him, her, his, and hers. These are all singular pronoun forms. When a group of people of mixed genders is being referred to or if the gender is unknown, the pronouns them or they are used.

Them and they are interesting pronouns as although they are typically used as plural forms, they can be used as singular forms as well. This use is usually adopted when referring to someone who doesn't wish to identify as a specific gender.

For example, if someone was born the female sex but doesn't want to identify as female, they may wish to be referred to as they or them instead of she or her.

The Three Cases of Personal Pronouns

As we said earlier, personal pronouns can be split into three different cases - nominative, objective, and possessive.

Grammatical case lets us know how the pronouns link with the other words in a sentence.

For example, is the pronoun the subject or the object of the sentence? Or is the pronoun being used to show possession or belonging?

We'll now have a look at what each of these is.

Subject Personal Pronouns

Subject personal pronouns (aka nominative personal pronouns) are used when speaking in the nominative case.

If the pronoun is functioning as the sentence's subject, then you're using the nominative case.

The pronouns used in the nominative case are: I, you, he, she, it, we, and they.

Here are some examples of the nominative case being used:

She ate the cake.

You were late.

They ran the marathon.

In these examples, the subject personal pronouns are in bold.

In these examples, the verbs are active, so the subject personal pronoun is doing the action.

The subject of the sentence doesn't always have to be carrying out an action.

Think of the sentence "She is happy."

Here, she isn't carrying out an action but is still the subject. This example can help us to understand that subjects can either carry out an action or be something (such as an emotion).

Personal Pronouns Subjective and objective StudySmarter

Fig 3. If you can identify the subject and object of a sentence, then you'll be able to identify any nominative pronoun forms.

Object Personal Pronouns

Object personal pronouns are used when speaking in the objective case.

The objective case is used when the pronoun is one of the following:

  • the direct object
  • the indirect object
  • the preposition object

In the example, "Give the menu to her," the object of the preposition is her.

The pronouns used in the objective case are: me, you, him, her, it, and them.

Here are some examples of the objective case being used:

She'd had a terrible evening, so I gave her a ride home.

Jim needed to tell them about the race.

Yana requested the flowers be sent to him at his home.

The objective personal pronouns are indicated in bold.

Possessive Personal Pronouns

Possessive personal pronouns are used when writing or speaking in the possessive case. The possessive case can also be referred to as the genitive case.

If pronouns are being used to show possession or ownership, they're being used in the possessive case.

The pronouns used in the possessive case are: my, mine, our(s), his, her(s), their(s), its, and your(s).

Here are some examples of possessive personal pronouns being used in sentences:

I put the documents in my case.

Carlos didn't know the fault was yours.

Audrey had her cake and ate it.

The possessive personal pronouns are shown in bold.

In the first example, what other type of personal pronoun is being used?

In these examples, possession is shown of the case, the fault, and the cake.

Personal Pronouns House StudySmarter

Fig 4. Possessive personal pronouns are used when showing ownership or possession, such as my in "that's my house."

Personal Pronouns Examples

Let's now look at some examples of personal pronouns in sentences.

They were over the moon about the news.

You all danced through the night.

The news didn't sound good to me.

The plan was meant to be a secret. Samira gave it away.

The money was mine to give away.

The scholarship was rightfully theirs, even though they didn't get it.

These examples are split into nominative, objective, and possessive cases - can you identify which is which?

Personal Pronouns Chart

Let's summarise everything we've learned about personal pronouns by looking at some examples for each type in a chart.

The personal pronouns are arranged by case and number. The grammatical person is indicated in color: first person in black, second person in pink, and third person in blue.

Nominative

Objective

Possessive

Singular

Iyouhesheitmeyouhimheritmemineyour(s)hisher(s)its

Plural

weyoutheyyouthemour(s)your(s)their(s)

Personal Pronouns - Key takeaways

  • A pronoun is a word that can replace a noun or a noun phrase.
  • A personal pronoun is used specifically to refer to a person, group of people, or animal.
  • Personal pronouns can also be used to show the following grammatical functions: person, number, gender, and case.
  • Grammatical case lets us know how the pronouns relate to the other words in a sentence.
  • Personal pronouns have three cases: nominative, objective, and possessive.

Frequently Asked Questions about Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns are words used as substitutes for proper nouns. Personal pronouns can be used to show grammatical functions such as grammatical person, number, gender, and grammatical case.

Personal pronouns can be used to show gender. These pronouns are he, she, him, her(s), and his.

Personal pronouns can be split into three different grammatical cases. These are nominative (I, you, he, she, it, we, they), objective (me, you, him, her, it, them), and possessive (my, mine, our(s), his, her(s), their(s), its, your(s)).

There are 12 singular personal pronouns that can be used to represent a singular person. These are: I, you, he, she, it, him, her, me, my, your, his, and hers.

Personal pronouns can be used in sentences in place of proper nouns. Personal pronouns can also be used to show grammatical functions such as belonging or possession. These are: my, mine, our(s), his, her(s), their(s), its, and your(s).

Final Personal Pronouns Quiz

Question

What would you use a pronoun for?

Show answer

Answer

A pronoun can be used as a substitute for a proper noun or noun phrase.

Show question

Question

What can pronouns be used to refer to?

Show answer

Answer

All of these

Show question

Question

Which of these aren't personal pronouns?

Show answer

Answer

those

Show question

Question

What is a personal pronoun?

Show answer

Answer

A personal pronoun is a type of pronoun used specifically to refer to people or multiple people.

Show question

Question

Which of these are grammatical functions that can be shown through personal pronouns?

Show answer

Answer

person

Show question

Question

What is meant by grammatical person?

Show answer

Answer

Whether you're referring to someone in the first, second, or third person.

Show question

Question

When the speaker is referring directly to the audience, which grammatical person is being used?

Show answer

Answer

The second person

Show question

Question

Which of these pronouns are in the third person?

Show answer

Answer

him

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Question

True or false: The following personal pronouns are all in the singular form.

you    he    her    it    them    yours    us

Show answer

Answer

False, them, yours, and us can all be plural forms.

Show question

Question

True or false: All personal pronouns show gender.

Give examples for your answer.

Show answer

Answer

False - some personal pronouns (he, she, him, and her) show gender while others (I, you, it, and them) don't.

Show question

Question

How many grammatical cases are there for personal pronouns?

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Answer

3

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Question

What is grammatical case?

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Answer

Grammatical case refers to how pronouns relate to other words in a sentence.

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Question

Which of these isn't a grammatical case?

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Answer

Reflexive

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Question

When the nominative case is used, what is the pronoun?

Show answer

Answer

The subject of the sentence

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Question

Which form are these personal pronouns in?

I    you    he    she    it    we    they

Show answer

Answer

Nominative

Show question

Question

True or false: me, you, him, her, and them are all possessive personal pronouns.

Show answer

Answer

False - these are objective personal pronouns.

Show question

Question

In this sentence, what is the objective personal pronoun?

She requested the flowers be sent to him at his home.

Show answer

Answer

him

Show question

Question

In this sentence, what is the nominative personal pronoun?

He needed to tell them about his race.

Show answer

Answer

he

Show question

Question

What does this describe?

A personal pronoun that shows belonging or ownership.

Show answer

Answer

Possessive personal pronoun

Show question

Question

Which of the following aren't possessive personal pronouns?

Show answer

Answer

she

Show question

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