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.
You as a singular and a plural pronoun
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?)
Pronouns | Number and Person
Look at the following sentences:
- I love him.
- We have invited them.
- She visited us.
- We have decided to buy it.
The words in bold letters are examples of personal pronouns.
Personal pronouns belong to three categories: first person, second person and third person.
The pronouns I, my, mine, me, we, our, ours and us are called first person pronouns.
The pronouns you, your, yours are called second person pronouns. Note that the archaic words thou, thine, thee and ye are also second person pronouns. They are, nevertheless, seldom used except in poetry.
The pronouns he, his, him, she, her, hers, they, their, theirs, them, it and its are called third person pronouns.
A personal pronoun can be in three case forms: nominative case, objective case and possessive case.
The pronouns I, you, he, she, it, they and we are said to be in the nominative case (subject form).
The pronouns my, mine, your, yours, his, her, hers, its, our, ours, their and theirs are said to be in the possessive case. The pronouns me, you, him, her, it, us and them are said to be in the objective case (object form).