The words I, me, he, him, you, she, her, it, they, them, we and us are usually called the personal pronouns. One is also used as a personal pronoun. Who is an interrogative personal pronoun.
Personal pronouns are used when it is not necessary to use or repeat more exact noun phrases.
- Alice sings well. She has a sweet voice. (NOT Alice sings well. Alice has a sweet voice.)
- The children went on a picnic. They had a nice time. (NOT The children went on a picnic. The children had a nice time.)
Subject and object forms
I, he, she, they and we are used mainly as subjects before verbs. Me, him, her, them and us are used as objects.
- I need help.
- Can you help me?
- Who needs help?
- It is me.
- They have been invited.
- We have invited them.
Standard modern English uses you for both singular and plural. But note that separate forms exist in certain dialects. Many Americans use you guys (to both men and women) as an informal second-person plural. You all is another familiar form.
- Hi everybody. How are you all doing?
Note also the expressions you people/you guys/you lot/you two/you three etc.
- What are you guys doing tonight?
It, they and them
It, they and them are used to refer to things as well as people.
- Where is my book? Have you seen it?
We use it to refer to a person when we are identifying him or her.
- It was John I gave the book to, not Harry.
- Is that your sister? No, it isn't.
In questions tags, we use it to refer to nothing, everything and all.
- Everything is all right, isn't it?
- Nothing happened, did it?
It is also used as a meaningless subject with expressions that refer to time, weather, temperature, distances etc.
- It is raining.
- It is six o'clock.
- It is a cold day.
Whom in questions
Whom is not often used in informal English. We prefer to use who as an object, especially in questions.
- Who did you invite?
- Who did you go with?
In a more formal style, we use whom; and we must use whom after a preposition.
- Whom did you invite? (formal)
- With whom did you go? (NOT With who did you go?)
Common errors with adverbs New!
Common errors with conjunctions New!
Expressing a condition
Expressing a concession or contrast
Common errors with adjectives
Common errors with pronouns
Common errors with nouns and noun phrases
Causative use of Have