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What is a Personal Pronoun?

Personal pronouns are used instead of repeating a name multiple times in one sentence or sentences that are close to each other. Although the term ”personal” indicates that the pronouns are used to refer to a specific name, pronouns such as ”it” and ”they” can be used to refer to objects, places, and ideas. Below is a list of personal pronouns that can be used in place of a name, object, place, or idea.

I He Him Her
It Me She Them
They Us We You

Personal pronouns are sorted into a few different categories based on factors like a point of view and quantity. These categories include first-person, second-person, third-person, singular pronouns, and plural pronouns. It is also important to note that pronouns can, in some cases, vary from the usual rule. For example, the word ”they” is typically used in a plural context, but ”they” can be used as a singular pronoun to reflect gender-neutral usage.

First-Person Pronouns

First-person pronouns are used when a writer or speaker is referring to themselves in a narrative. A first-person pronoun will not typically replace a noun, as it is understood that the pronoun is in reference to the speaker or writer individually or within a group that includes themselves.

There are several reasons why a writer or speaker may use first-person pronouns in their writing or speech. One common reason is to sound natural to the audience. It is natural for one to want to use first-person pronouns when talking about something they have done, are planning to do, or explaining their thoughts to another. It also contributes to smoother sentence structure. For example, a woman named Natalie would naturally say ”I went to the grocery store yesterday” instead of saying ”Natalie went to the grocery store yesterday.” Another reason to use first-person is to create an immersive point of view. This is commonly seen in literary works when a narrator wants an audience to see the main character’s actions through that character’s eyes.

Below is a list of first-person pronouns:

I Me We Us
Mine Ours Myself Ourselves

Second-Person Pronouns

Second-person pronouns are used to address a person or people directly. The pronoun ”you” is a second-person pronoun. Unlike first and third-person pronouns, second-person pronouns do not refer to the speaker or writer themselves, nor do they refer to anyone that the speaker or writer is not addressing directly. Although the second-person point of view is said to be the trickiest to use of the three different points of view (first, second, and third-person), there are instances where using second-person pronouns is appropriate. One instance is when a speaker or writer is giving a command, giving advice, or providing direction. For example, someone may say ”You should drive down the road and make a left at the second stop sign” to someone they are providing directions to. Another example could involve a parent saying to their child ”You are going to clean your room today,” giving a command.

Another instance where second-person pronouns are used is when speaking to an audience. A writer or speaker will use second-person pronouns to create a connection between themselves and the audience as well as when trying to persuade or make an argument. For example, the sentence ”I hope to see you all at the party” adds a personal connection between the speaker and the audience while also serving to persuade the audience to attend the function.

Below is a list of second-person pronouns:

You Yours Yourself Yourselves

Third-Person Pronouns

Third-person pronouns are used by a speaker or writer to refer to someone other than themselves and whomever they are currently speaking with. Additionally, third-person pronouns are the only pronouns that are used to refer to objects.

Like the other personal pronouns, there are specific instances where a speaker or writer may want to use a third-person pronoun. One instance is when talking about inanimate objects or referring to abstract ideas. For example, when describing a new car, one might say ”It is bright blue with a gold trim.” The pronoun ”it” is used to refer to the car. A second instance is when stating facts. For example, when talking about the weather, one might say ”It will be hot and humid outside today.” Again, the pronoun ‘it’ is used to refer to an object: the weather. The final instance is when a speaker or writer is presenting a third-person narrative. When using a third-person point of view in a narrative, the narrator provides an outsider’s point of view of the events in the story. For example, when describing the actions of the main character, the narrator may say ”She rode on horseback to the top of the mountain to fight the dangerous dragon.”

Below is a list of third-person pronouns.

She Her Hers Herself
He Him His Himself
It Its Itself They
Them Theirs Themself Themselves

Examples of Personal Pronouns

The following are examples of each personal pronoun when used in a sentence:

First-person pronouns

  • I am a teacher at XYZ elementary. Pronoun: I
  • James took the blanket from me. Pronoun: me
  • We should get dinner after work. Pronoun: we
  • Grandma is going to make cookies for us. Pronoun: us

Second-person pronouns

  • You should get the orange popsicle. Pronoun: you
  • Do something nice for yourself today. Pronoun: yourself

Third-person pronouns

  • She volunteers at the museum once a month. Pronoun: she
  • He takes swimming lessons twice a week. Pronoun: he
  • The car is old. It gets too loud. Pronoun: it
  • Her eyes are dark brown. Pronoun: her
  • His sister is a doctor. Pronoun: his
  • They went to the park to play frisbee. Pronoun: they
  • The teacher gave them a warning. Pronoun: them

When using personal pronouns in written or verbal communication, it is important to note that some pronouns have different forms when used as a subject or an object. Subject pronouns replace the subject in the sentence and object pronouns replace the object. Object pronouns typically follow the action in the sentence.

For example:

  • I am a teacher at XYZ elementary. The subject pronoun in this instance is ”I,” which is first-person singular and precedes the action.
  • James took the blanket from me. The object pronoun in this instance is ”me,” which is first-person singular and follows the action.

Lesson Summary

Personal pronouns are used in written and verbal communication to replace the name of a person, place, object, or idea. Instead of repeating the name, a personal pronoun can be used in its place to create a smoother sentence.

I He Him Her
It Me She Them
They Us We You

There are three types of personal persons that are used in language. First-person pronouns (I, me, we, us) are used to refer to oneself individually or within a group the speaker belongs to. Second-person pronouns (you, your, yourself, yourselves) are used to address a person or group of people directly. Third-person pronouns (he, she, her, him, it, they, them) is used to refer to people other than the speaker and whomever they are currently speaking with. Pronouns can be used as either as subject or object pronouns. Subject pronouns (I, you, he, she, it, they, we) are used to replace the subject of a sentence. Object pronouns (me, you, him, her, it, them, us) will follow the action in the sentence and replace the object.

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