The English Pronoun System

The Personal Pronouns

Read the lesson on the right. Then copy each sentence into the box below it, replacing the italicized word or words with pronouns that will make sense and sound right. This may sometimes mean replacing verbs as well as nouns. Thus, "The person speaking to you is hungry" becomes "I am hungry."

The Pronoun System

      English has a large number of pronouns: words standing for (pro) nouns. Some of these words serve to clarify the communication situation: "I" refers to the speaker, "you" refers to the person or persons spoken to, and all other pronouns refer to persons or things outside this intimate group. Thus, "I see you" refers to just the speaker-audience group, while "I see him," although spoken to an audience, refers to someone else, not the audience being addressed. In talking about grammar, we refer to these three basic roles in the communication situation as

    the first person (speaker)
    the second person (hearer)
    the third person (spoken about, outside of speaker and hearer)

      Like nouns, pronouns have different forms for singular and plural as well as a special form for the possessive, but unlike nouns, some pronouns also have one form when used as a subject and another when used as an object.

Subject Pronouns: Singular / Plural

    First Person: I / we
    Second Person: you / you
    Third person: he, she, it / they

Object Pronouns: Singular / Plural

    First Person: me, myself / us, ourselves
    Second Person: you, yourself / you, yourselves
    Third person: him, himself, her, herself, it, itself / them, themselves

Possessive Pronouns: Singular / Plural

    First Person: mine / ours
    Second Person: yours
    Third person: his, hers, its / theirs

      For completeness, we must also include the forms that these pronouns take when used as adjectives, to modify a noun. Thus "theirs" is used as a pronoun in "This car is theirs," but "their" is used as an adjective in "This is their car."

Possessive Adjectival Pronouns: Singular / Plural

    First Person: my / our
    Second Person: your
    Third person: his, her, its / their