Caleb S.
Caleb S.

Personal Pronouns | Types, Definitions, And Examples

16 min read

Published on: Jun 29, 2024

Last updated on: Jul 4, 2024

personal pronouns

Imagine if every time you wanted to say something about your friend Alex, you had to keep saying “Alex did this” and “Alex did that” – it would get pretty tiring, right? 

That’s where personal pronouns come in! 

Personal pronouns in English are words we use to replace specific names of people, making our sentences smoother and less repetitive. They help us talk about ourselves, the people we're talking to, and other people or things. 

The most common personal pronouns list includes "I," "you," "he," "she," "it," "we," and "they."

According to Personal Pronouns Definition

“A personal pronoun is a pronoun that stands in place of and acts as a noun phrase. It is associated primarily with a particular grammatical person – first person (as I), second person (as you), or third person (as he, she, it, they).”

These pronouns can also reflect different numbers (singular or plural) and genders.

Personal Pronouns Example:

"Mary is a skilled architect. Mary designed the new office building downtown. Mary's designs are known for their innovative use of sustainable materials and Mary's work has received multiple awards for architectural excellence."

Using personal pronouns, this paragraph becomes much easier to read.

"Mary is a skilled architect. She designed the new office building downtown. Her designs are known for their innovative use of sustainable materials, and they have received multiple awards for architectural excellence."

Factors Indicating Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns are guided by four factors that determine their correct usage in sentences. These factors include person, number, gender, and case.

Person

Personal pronouns are termed "personal" not because they exclusively refer to people, consider "it," for instance. But because they denote a grammatical characteristic known as “person”.

There are three possibilities:

  • First Person: I, me, my, mine, we, us, our, ours.
  • Second Person: You, your, yours.
  • Third Person: He, him, his, she, her, hers, it, its, they, them, their, theirs.

Number 

Personal pronouns vary based on whether they refer to singular or plural entities:

  • Singular: Refers to one person or thing.
    • I, me, my, mine, you, your, yours, he, him, his, she, her, hers, it, its.
  • Plural: Refers to more than one person or thing.
    • We, us, our, ours, you, your, yours, they, them, their, theirs.

Gender 

Personal pronouns indicate the gender of the person being referred to, or they show the absence of gender when referring to objects and concepts.

  • Masculine: Refers to males.
    • Examples: He, him, his.
  • Feminine: Refers to females.
    • Examples: She, her, hers.
  • Neuter or Inanimate: Used for objects, animals, or entities without a specific gender.
    • Examples: It, its.

Gender-neutral: Increasingly adopted to refer to individuals regardless of gender, promoting inclusivity and respect for diverse gender identities. The singular "they" is widely used in both casual and formal contexts.

  • Examples: They, them, their.

Case

Personal pronouns change form based on their grammatical function within sentences:

  • Subject Case: Pronouns used as the subject of a sentence or clause. They perform the action of the verb.
    • Examples: I, you, he, she, it, we, they.
  • Object Case: Pronouns used as the object of a verb or preposition, receiving the action.
    • Examples: Me, you, him, her, it, us, them.
  • Possessive Case: Pronouns indicating ownership or possession. They are further divided into possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns.
    • Possessive Adjectives: My, your, his, her, its, our, their.
    • Possessive Pronouns: Mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, theirs.
  • Reflexive Case: Pronouns reflect the subject of the sentence and are used for emphasis or to indicate that the action of the verb affects the subject itself.
    • Examples: Myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves.

Personal Pronouns According to Different Perspectives

Personal pronouns vary according to different perspectives: first person (the speaker), second person (the listener), and third person (others). These perspectives determine how individuals are referenced in the communication. 

First Person Perspective

In the first person perspective, the speaker refers to themselves or a group that includes themselves. This perspective uses pronouns such as:

Type

Singular

Plural

Subject Pronouns

I

we

Object Pronouns

me

us

Possessive Pronouns

mine

ours

Reflexive Pronouns

myself

ourselves

First-person pronouns ("I/me/my/mine") do not vary based on gender but do change based on number and case. The first-person singular subject pronoun "I" is distinctive in English for always being capitalized. 

Examples:

  • I am going to the store.
  • We decided to go hiking, and I packed snacks for all.
  • This book is mine.

Second Person Perspective

The second-person perspective addresses the listener or listeners directly. Pronouns used in this perspective include:

Type

Singular

Plural

Subject Pronoun

you

you

Object Pronoun

Possessive Pronoun

yours

yours

Reflexive Pronoun

yourself

yourselves

Second-person pronouns also do not vary based on gender. Only the reflexive form varies based on number, while the subject and object forms remain the same. This uniformity makes them the least variable set of personal pronouns. 

Examples:

  • You are invited to the party.
  • I will help you with your homework.
  • You can do it!

Third Person Perspective

The third-person perspective refers to individuals or groups outside of the conversation. Pronouns in this perspective include:

Type

Singular

Plural

Subject Pronouns

he/she/it

they

Object Pronouns

him/her/it

them

Possessive Pronouns

his/her/its

their

Reflexive Pronouns

himself/herself/itself

themselves

The third-person pronouns are much more variable than the first- and second-person pronouns, as they change form based on gender, number, and case. In addition to forms for the masculine and feminine, there is also a neuter (or inanimate) form used to refer to things other than people (e.g., ideas, objects, animals).

Examples:

  • We saw them at the park.
  • Is this her book?"
  • He hurt himself while playing.

Types of Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns are categorized based on their role in the sentence: subject pronouns, object pronouns, possessive pronouns, and reflexive pronouns.

Subject Pronouns

Subject pronouns are used when the pronoun is the subject of the sentence, performing the action.

  • Singular: I, you, he, she, it
  • Plural: we, you, they

Object Pronoun

Object pronouns are used when the pronoun is the object of a verb or preposition.

  • Singular: me, you, him, her, it
  • Plural: us, you, them

Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns show ownership or possession without the need for a noun following them.

  • Singular: mine, yours, his, hers, its
  • Plural: ours, yours, theirs

Reflexive Pronouns

Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject and the object of a sentence are the same.

  • Singular: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself
  • Plural: ourselves, yourselves, themselves

Personal Pronouns vs Impersonal Pronouns

Personal pronouns refer to specific people or things directly involved in a conversation. They indicate who is speaking (first person), who is being spoken to (second person), or who or what is being spoken about (third person). 

On the other hand:

Impersonal pronouns do not refer to specific persons or things. They are used to make general statements or to refer to unspecified people or things. 

Common impersonal pronouns include:

  • Singular: Refers to unspecified persons or things (e.g., one, someone, something).
    • One should always strive for excellence.
  • Plural: Refers to unspecified groups or things (e.g., they, them).
    • They say it's going to rain tomorrow.

Other Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns in English go beyond the commonly used forms to include some less standard or archaic versions. These pronouns may be seen in historical texts, regional dialects, or informal speech. 

Here are some notable examples:

1. Archaic Second-Person Pronouns 

In earlier stages of the English language, pronouns such as "thou," "thee," "thy," and "thine" were used to address individuals directly. These forms have largely fallen out of everyday use but remain important in understanding historical and literary texts.

2. Nonstandard Second-Person Plural Pronouns 

In many regional dialects, especially in the Southern United States, "y’all" is used as a plural form of "you." Other nonstandard forms include "you all," "youse," and "yinz," which serve similar functions in various dialects across English-speaking regions.

  • "Y’all are invited to the barbecue."

3. “Ourself” 

"Ourself" is a less common reflexive pronoun used to refer to a group or institution that the speaker is part of. It is rare and often considered nonstandard but can be seen in formal or institutional contexts.

  • "We must prepare ourself for the upcoming challenges."

4. “Hisself,” “Theirselves,” and “Theirself” 

"Hisself," "theirselves," and "theirself" are nonstandard reflexive pronouns occasionally used in place of "himself," "themselves," and "themself." These forms are typically found in informal speech and certain dialects.

  • "He did it all by hisself."

5. ’Em

"’Em" is an informal contraction of "them," commonly used in casual speech. This form reflects spoken English and is frequently found in dialogue to convey a conversational tone.

  • "I saw ’em at the store."

All in all, understanding personal pronouns is essential for clear communication in English. These pronouns replace specific names to reduce repetition and streamline sentences. 

Recognizing both common and less standard pronouns, including archaic forms also enhances comprehension and usage. 

If you want to ensure precision in your writing, try our Grammar checker today! 

But if you want the help of AI for easy and quick content creation, try out our essay generator - free AI essay writer!

Continue Learning

If you want to learn more about academic writing, grammar, and related concepts, check out these blogs.

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Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

Should personal pronouns be capitalized?

Yes, the first-person singular pronoun "I" should always be capitalized. Other personal pronouns are not capitalized unless they appear at the beginning of a sentence.

In religious contexts, pronouns referring to deities or religious figures are often capitalized as a mark of reverence.

Should you use personal pronouns in an essay?

Yes, personal pronouns can be used in essays, especially in narrative, reflective, or argumentative writing to enhance clarity and engagement. However, their usage should be appropriate to the context and style of writing.

List some personal pronouns for KS2.

For KS2 (Key Stage 2, typically ages 7-11), common personal pronouns include:

  • Singular: I, you, he, she, it
  • Plural: we, you, they
Caleb S.

WRITTEN BY

Caleb S. (Mass Literature and Linguistics)

Caleb S. is an accomplished author with over five years of experience and a Master's degree from Oxford University. He excels in various writing forms, including articles, press releases, blog posts, and whitepapers. As a valued author at MyEssayWriter.ai, Caleb assists students and professionals by providing practical tips on research, citation, sentence structure, and style enhancement.

Caleb S. is an accomplished author with over five years of experience and a Master's degree from Oxford University. He excels in various writing forms, including articles, press releases, blog posts, and whitepapers. As a valued author at MyEssayWriter.ai, Caleb assists students and professionals by providing practical tips on research, citation, sentence structure, and style enhancement.

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