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Personal Pronouns

Pronouns are words that take the place of nouns. The English personal pronouns are:

First PersonIwe
Second Personyouyou
Third Personhe, she, itthey

Notice that you is both singular and plural. When speaking to one person, say you. When speaking to two or more persons, say you:

  • Tim, you are a very good student.
  • Bruno and Rene, you have to study more.

Just as nouns have gender, pronouns also do. Iwe, and you can be used by males or females. He is always masculine, she is always feminine, and it is always neuter. The plural of the third-person pronouns is always they, whether masculine, feminine, or neuter. And just like nouns, pronouns can be used as:

  1. the subject of a sentence
  2. a direct object
  3. an indirect object

But when used as a direct object or indirect object, some of the pronouns change:

SubjectDirect ObjectIndirect Object
you (plural)youyou

If a pronoun replaces a noun in the sentence, it must have the same characteristics as the noun: the same number (singular or plural), the same gender (masculine, feminine, or neuter), and the same use in the sentence (subject, direct object, or indirect object). Look at these examples where the pronoun replaces the italicized noun:

Joseph is a hard worker. (singular masculine noun/subject)He is a hard worker. (singular masculine pronoun/subject)
Do you know the girls? (plural noun/direct object)Do you know them? (plural pronoun/direct object)
We gave Mrs. Jones some flowers. (singular feminine noun/indirect object)We gave her some flowers. (singular feminine pronoun/ indirect object)

Notice that the nouns and pronouns are in the third person. This is true when a pronoun replaces a noun. But when a noun or pronoun is combined with the first-person singular pronoun I, it is replaced by the first-person plural pronoun we:

  • You and I have work to do. ➞ We have work to do.
  • He helps the girls and me. ➞ He helps us.

When you change a direct object noun to a direct object pronoun, you must add to or for before the indirect object noun or pronoun. The indirect object becomes the object of the preposition to or for. Place the prepositional phrase after the direct object. For example:

  • I gave Jay a book. ➞ I gave it to Jay.
  • We buy her flowers. ➞ We buy them for her.

Nouns or pronouns can be used to complete a prepositional phrase. That is a phrase made up of a preposition and a noun or a pronoun. Here are some of the most commonly used prepositions:

  • after, behind, between, for, from, in, near, on, of, through, to, with, without

Look at these sample prepositional phrases:

after the concertbehind me
between the girlsfor you
from a friendin him
near the cityon it
of a bookthrough her
to a studentwith us
without the moneywithout them

In a prepositional phrase, use the same form of the pronoun that is used as a direct or indirect object:

Subject PronounDirect or Indirect ObjectPrepositional Phrase
Imeafter me
youyoubehind you
hehimfor him
sheherfrom her
ititin it
weusbetween us
theythemnear them

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