Pronouns: personal (I, me, you, him, it, they, etc.)
We use personal pronouns in place of noun phrases. We often use them to refer back to people and things that we have already identified (underlined):
Peter complained to the chef about the meal. She wasn’t very helpful so he spoke to the manager. (she = the chef, he = Peter)
Where’s the knife? I can’t find it.B:
It’s in the drawer. (it = the knife)
Personal pronouns show person and number. He, she, him and her show gender. They have different subject and object forms (except you, it and one which have only one form):
singular or plural
Subject and object pronouns
Personal subject pronouns act as the subject of a clause. We use them before a verb to show who is doing the verb. We do not usually leave out the pronoun:
She loves playing basketball.
loves playing basketball.
They don’t finish the lesson until four o’clock.
It’s getting late.
We use personal object pronouns in all other positions, such as after the verb or after a preposition:
Paula’s coming to visit us in September. (us = object)
Thanks again for everything you did for me. (for me = prepositional phrase)
We also use personal object pronouns as complements of the verb be:
That’s him. That’s the man I was talking about. (him = complement of be)
We can use some object pronouns (me, him, her, us and them) as short answers, particularly in informal speaking:
Who ate all the biscuits?B:
Me. (or more formally: I did.)
We use I and me to refer to the speaker or writer. I is the subject form and me is the object form:
I can’t come on Friday. I’m working.
I am writing to apply for the position of …
Helen asked me to get some milk.
It’s me. Can you open the door? I haven’t got my key. (It is I. is not often used. It is very formal.)
We sometimes hear me used as a subject in informal speaking after another subject + and:
My friends and me went on holiday to a little town on the south coast. (or Me and my friends went on holiday …; My friends and I went … is considered to be more correct.)
We sometimes use us to refer to me in informal speaking:
Pass us an orange, will you?
We use you to refer to the listener or reader. It is both the subject and the object form. You can refer to one person or more than one person. It is usually clear from the context whether you is singular or plural:
Paul, do you need any help? (refers to one person, Paul)
[coach to team]
The match starts at 10.30. I need you to be here at 10. (refers to a group of people)
We sometimes use you all to address everyone in a group:
What would you all like to eat?
In informal contexts, we also use you to refer to people in general, not someone specific:
You get a pension if you’re a man over the age of 65 or a woman over 60.
He, him; she, her
He, him, she and her are singular third person pronouns. He and him are the masculine forms. She and her are the feminine forms:
Have you seen Johnny Roberts recently?B:
Yes I saw him in town last week. He’s looking really well.
She didn’t like the way he spoke to her.
Traditionally, he and him were used to refer to both genders in formal writing:
If anyone has any evidence to oppose this view, let him inform the police immediately.
Nowadays, we often see gender neutral forms (e.g. he or she, he/she, s/he, (s)he, they and him or her, him/her, them) when we do not know if the person referred to is male or female:
The bank manager could help with your problem. He or she will probably be able to give you a loan. (or … he/she will probably be able to … or … they will probably be able to …)
Go to a hairdresser. Ask him or her to come up with a style that suits you, your hair, your lifestyle. (or … ask him/her to come up with a style … or … ask them to come up with a style …)
When you get into the building, go to the person on the desk in the reception area. They can tell you where to go. (or He or she can tell you where to go.)
We use it to refer to things:
My computer isn’t working. It’s crashed again. Can you have a look at it?
We use it as an empty pronoun, also known as a ‘dummy’ subject, where there is no other subject to put in the subject position, particularly when referring to the weather or time:
It’s so lovely to see you.
It’s already ten o’clock.
We usually use it to refer to countries, vehicles and machines. In some traditional styles, she was sometimes used, but this is now considered inappropriate by many people:
We spent three weeks in Malaysia. It’s a beautiful country.
Three hours after the ship sailed, it developed engine trouble. (or, more traditionally: … she developed engine trouble.)
We use we and us to refer to different groups of people, but always including the speaker. We and us can refer to the speaker + the listener, or the speaker + other people but not the listener, or people in general including the speaker:
We could go and see a film tonight. What do you think? (we = speaker + listener)
Gerald asked us if we’d drive to London and get you. (us/we = speaker + others but not listener you)
Changing diet, rather than dieting, is a healthier alternative. There are changes we should all make. (we = speaker + listener + all other people)
We use they and them to refer to specific groups of people, things and animals:
The kids are getting on my nerves. They’re making so much noise. Can you tell them to be quiet? I’m trying to work.
Have you seen my keys? I never remember where I’ve left them.B:
They’re by the front door.
We also use they and them to refer to institutions or authorities, and groups of people in general:
I heard they’re going to publish a new edition of ‘War and Peace’.
They’re opening the new motorway tomorrow.
(“Pronouns: personal ( I, me, you, him, it, they, etc.)” aus English Grammar Today © Cambridge University Press.)
- Adjectives and adverbs
Easily confused words
- Above or over?
- Across, over or through?
- Advice or advise?
- Affect or effect?
- All or every?
- All or whole?
- Allow, permit or let?
- Almost or nearly?
- Alone, lonely, or lonesome?
- Along or alongside?
- Already, still or yet?
- Also, as well or too?
- Alternate(ly), alternative(ly)
- Although or though?
- Altogether or all together?
- Amount of, number of or quantity of?
- Any more or anymore?
- Anyone, anybody or anything?
- Apart from or except for?
- Arise or rise?
- Around or round?
- Arouse or rouse?
- As or like?
- As, because or since?
- As, when or while?
- Been or gone?
- Begin or start?
- Beside or besides?
- Between or among?
- Born or borne?
- Bring, take and fetch
- Can, could or may?
- Classic or classical?
- Come or go?
- Consider or regard?
- Consist, comprise or compose?
- Content or contents?
- Different from, different to or different than?
- Do or make?
- Down, downwards or downward?
- During or for?
- Each or every?
- East or eastern; north or northern?
- Economic or economical?
- Efficient or effective?
- Elder, eldest or older, oldest?
- End or finish?
- Especially or specially?
- Every one or everyone?
- Except or except for?
- Expect, hope or wait?
- Experience or experiment?
- Fall or fall down?
- Far or a long way?
- Farther, farthest or further, furthest?
- Fast, quick or quickly?
- Fell or felt?
- Female or feminine; male or masculine?
- Finally, at last, lastly or in the end?
- First, firstly or at first?
- Fit or suit?
- Following or the following?
- For or since?
- Forget or leave?
- Full or filled?
- Fun or funny?
- Get or go?
- Grateful or thankful?
- Hear or listen (to)?
- High or tall?
- Historic or historical?
- House or home?
- How is …? or What is … like?
- If or when?
- If or whether?
- Ill or sick?
- Imply or infer?
- In the way or on the way?
- It’s or its?
- Late or lately?
- Lay or lie?
- Lend or borrow?
- Less or fewer?
- Look at, see or watch?
- Low or short?
- Man, mankind or people?
- Maybe or may be?
- Maybe or perhaps?
- Nearest or next?
- Never or not … ever?
- Nice or sympathetic?
- No doubt or without doubt?
- No or not?
- Nowadays, these days or today?
- Open or opened?
- Opportunity or possibility?
- Opposite or in front of?
- Other, others, the other or another?
- Out or out of?
- Permit or permission?
- Person, persons or people?
- Pick or pick up?
- Play or game?
- Politics, political, politician or policy?
- Price or prize?
- Principal or principle?
- Quiet or quite?
- Raise or rise?
- Remember or remind?
- Right or rightly?
- Rob or steal?
- Say or tell?
- So that or in order that?
- Sometimes or sometime?
- Sound or noise?
- Speak or talk?
- Such or so?
- There, their or they’re?
- Towards or toward?
- Wait or wait for?
- Wake, wake up or awaken?
- Worth or worthwhile?
Nouns, pronouns and determiners
- about nouns
- common nouns
- noun phrases
- Each other, one another
- Everyone, everybody, everything, everywhere
- No one, nobody, nothing, nowhere
- One and one’s
- Pronouns: indefinite (-body, -one, -thing, -where)
- Pronouns: one, you, we, they
- Pronouns: personal (I, me, you, him, it, they, etc.)
- Pronouns: possessive (my, mine, your, yours, etc.)
- Pronouns: reflexive (myself, themselves, etc.)
- Questions: interrogative pronouns (what, who)
- Relative pronouns
- Someone, somebody, something, somewhere
- question words
- uncountable nouns
Prepositions and particles
- Among and amongst
- At, in and to (movement)
- At, on and in (place)
- At, on and in (time)
- Beneath: meaning and use
- By + myself etc.
- For + -ing
- In front of
- In spite of and despite
- In, into
- Near and near to
- On, onto
- Prepositional phrases
- Words, sentences and clauses
- Using English
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