Personal pronouns are words that we use to refer to people or things without using their proper names. In English, we have subject pronouns and object pronouns, both of which we’re focusing on today. Personal pronouns can stand in for all types of nouns in a sentence.
Common personal pronouns in English are: “I,” “you,” “he,” “she,” “it,” “we,” “they,” “me,” “you,” “him,” “her,” “it,” “us” and “them.” Let’s learn more about the difference between subject and object pronouns and see some examples of how to use them.
- Subject pronouns
- Object pronouns
- Personal pronouns chart
- Gender-neutral pronouns
- Animals and pets
- Common errors
Subject pronouns are pronouns that are used as the subject of a sentence. We use them to replace the name of the person or thing that is performing the action in the sentence. The seven subject pronouns are “I,” “you,” “he,” “she,” “it,” “we” and “they.” Here are some example sentences:
- Aline went to the store. → She went to the store.
- Fred works in New York. → He works in New York.
- Ben and Bill love gardening. → They love gardening.
- I often have eggs for lunch.
- Do you like learning English?
- We are going to be late!
Object pronouns stand in for the object of a verb or preposition. We use them to replace the name of the person or thing that is receiving the action in the sentence. Some common object pronouns in English include “me,” “you,” “him,” “her,” “it,” “us,” and “them.” Here are some example sentences:
- Catch the ball! → Catch it!
- I saw Dennis yesterday. → I saw him yesterday.
- Please give the flowers to Elena. → Please give them to her.
- Are you talking to me?
- The teacher told you to stop talking.
- Mary asked us to feed the cat while she was away.
Personal pronouns chart
Here is a personal pronouns chart showing the English subject and object pronouns.
|Subject pronoun||Object pronoun|
|Second-person singular and plural||you||you|
Gender-neutral pronouns are becoming more common in English. You will often hear one person being referred to as “they” or “them,” which are traditionally plural subject pronouns. Make sure you use the correct form of the verb if you use “they.”
- Henry is coming. → They are coming.
It’salso becoming common to use “they” to avoid identifying someone by gender. This can be especially useful when you don’t know someone’s gender. This is less common in very formal writing.
- Please look for your teacher in the hall. They will be waiting for you.
Animals and pets
Lots of English learners are not sure which personal pronoun to use for animals. Generally, we use “it” to talk about animals.
- Look at that mouse! It is eating cheese.
However, if we’re talking about a pet, particularly a dog or cat that we love, we often use “he,” “she,” “him” or “her.”
- I adore my dog Charlie. He’s my best friend.
- My cat Penny is so cuddly. She loves falling asleep on my knee.
A common error involves confusing English first-person pronouns. This is a mistake that even native speakers make very often. It involves using “me” instead of “I” or “I” instead of “me.” It usually happens when there is more than one subject or object in a sentence.
Consider the following sentences. The first sentence is incorrect, and the second is correct:
- Me and Sally want to go shopping this afternoon. (incorrect) → Sally and I want to go shopping this afternoon. (correct)
- You can help Matt and I later (incorrect). → You can help Matt and me later. (correct)
To ensure you don’t make this mistake, just remove the second subject. You’ll immediately notice that the incorrect first-person pronoun sounds weird:
- Me want to go shopping this afternoon.
- You can help I later.
These sentences are clearly incorrect when Sally and Matt are removed.
Using personal pronouns
Do you feel more confident about using personal pronouns now? You can use the English pronouns chart in this article to remember which are the subject pronouns and which are the object pronouns. Remember that subject pronouns can replace the noun that performs the action in a sentence, and object pronouns can replace the noun that receives the action. And don’t make the common mistake of mixing up your first-person pronouns!