Personal Pronoun:

The word ‘personal’ means belonging to a particular person. Similarly, personal pronouns are used in place of those specific nouns which are person, thing, or group. Personal pronouns help in avoiding the repetition of names of a person or thing which is already mentioned before.

Examples:

  • Garima wants to learn to dance. So, Garima is searching for a good dance teacher.
  • Garima wants to learn to dance. So, she is searching for a good dance teacher.

(here, Garima is the noun that is the name of a person. And pronoun she is used to replace Garima)

  • This is an exceptionally beautiful sight. Everyone feels blessed to witness the sight.
  • This is an exceptionally beautiful sight. Everyone feels blessed to witness it.

(here, sight is a noun which is a noun living thing and thus is replaced with it.)

  • Jacksons are popular. Jacksons are often in the news.
  • Jacksons are popular. They are often in the news.

(here, the noun talked about is a group of people referred by their last name ‘Jacksons’.  ‘They’ is used to replace this noun and to avoid repetition.)

Personal pronouns vary depending on the gender of noun, the person of noun, noun number, and the case of noun. Let us look at the following table to understand this better.

PERSON SUBJECTIVE CASE OBJECTIVE CASE POSSESSIVE CASE

SINGULAR

PLURAL

SINGULAR

PLURAL

SINGULAR

PLURAL

FIRST PERSON

I
We
Me
Us
My, Mine
Our, Ours

SECOND PERSON

You
You
You
You
Your, Yours
Your, Yours

THIRD PERSON

He, She, It
They
Him, Her, It
Them
His, Her, Hers, Its
Their, Theirs

The above table mentions all the personal pronouns. In order to use them correctly, we need to know their dependence on the gender of noun, the person of noun, noun number, and case of noun.

Ø Classification of Personal Pronouns based on GENDER

We know that nouns have four genders: masculine, feminine, common, and neuter.

Now when a pronoun replaces a noun, the gender of the noun is also considered. Thus, pronouns also have these four genders and are used accordingly.

MUSCULINE FEMININE COMMON NEUTER

SUBJECTIVE

He
She
They
It

OBJECTIVE

Him
Her
Them
It

POSSESSIVE

His
Her, Hers
Their, Theirs
Its

Pronouns I, We, Me, Us, Mine, My, Our and Ours (pronouns of first person) are gender independent and are used for oneself.

Similarly, You, Your and Yours (pronouns of second person) are also independent of gender as these are used for anyone who is a listener or speaker’s audience.

Ø Classification of Personal Pronoun based on PERSON

Before learning the dependence of pronoun on the person, let us understand what Person in English grammar is.

Usually, in a sentence, we have two different nouns acting as the subject and the object. But when we want to replace these nouns with pronouns, we find that we have only a handful of pronouns for all innumerable unique nouns. Thus, to distinguish subject and object, we need ‘person’ in grammar.

Also, like nouns and pronouns, verbs have a dependence on ‘Person’ too. A verb should agree with the number and person of its subject.

Grammar had three  Person: First, Second and Third.

First Person: The first person is the speaker. It is usually us when we talk about ourselves. The pronouns of first person are I, We, Me, Us, My, Mine, Our and Ours.

Examples:

  • Mathew said, ” I am scared of the dark.”

(here, I is used for replacing noun Mathew, the speaker, and is talking about himself. Thus, he is first person and so, we have used  a first person pronoun.)

  • John said, ”The teacher has asked me to organize the quiz.”

(here, me is used for replacing noun John, the speaker and is talking about the work given to him. Thus, he is first person and so, we have used  a first person pronoun.)

Second Person: The second person is the listener or the addressee or to whom the speaker is talking to. The pronouns of second person are You, Your and Yours.

Examples:

  • Mathew said to Sammy , ” You should complete your graduation.”

(here, You is used for replacing noun Sammy, the listener. He is the audience to Mathew. Thus, he is second person and so, we have used  a second person pronoun.)

  • John said to Chris, ”The teacher has asked you to organize the quiz.”

(here, You is used for replacing noun Chris, the listener. He is the audience to John. Thus, he is second person and so, we have used a second person pronoun.)

Third Person: The third person is the one other than the speaker and listener. It is usually the person who is being talked about by the speaker. The pronouns of third person are He, She, It, Its, His, Her, Him, Hers, They, Them, Their and Theirs.

Examples:

  • Mathew said to Sammy , ” Cassy is my sister and she loves to paint.”

(here, she is used for replacing noun Cassy, who is the neither the speaker nor the listener. She is the person about whom the speaker is talking. Thus, she is third person and so, we have used  a third person pronoun.)

  • John said, ”They has asked me to organize the quiz.”

(here, John is the speaker and the listener is unknown. John is talking about some other people other than him and the listener. Thus, those people are third person and we use They as a pronoun.)

Ø Classification of Personal Pronoun based on CASE

We are familiar with cases of nouns. Similarly, pronouns also have cases. To replace a noun with a pronoun, we need to use a pronoun of the correct case. If the noun is subjective, then only a pronoun of the subjective case replaces it. Similarly, for the rest of the cases.

Pronoun of SUBJECTIVE case:

When a noun or a pronoun behaves as the subject of a verb in a sentence, it is said to be in the nominative or subjective case.

Singular: I, You, He, She, It         Plural: We, You, They

Examples:

  • Anita has mastered the art of cooking.
  • She has mastered the art of cooking.

(Noun Anita in the first sentence is the subject of the sentence. Anita is the doer of the action. Also, Anita is a feminine noun and singular. Hence, to replace it, we need a singular pronoun of the subjective case and feminine gender, which is She.)

 

  • Mohan’s friends have organized a surprise birthday party for him.
  • They have organized a surprise birthday party for him.

(here, noun Mohan’s friends in the first sentence is the subject of the sentence. Mohan’s friends do the action of organizing. Also, ‘Mohan’s friends’ is a plural noun and belongs to the common gender. Hence, we use a plural pronoun of the subjective case and common gender, They)

 

  • Taj Mahal is one of the seven wonders of the world.
  • It is one of the seven wonders of the world.

(Taj Mahal is a singular noun and belongs to the neuter gender. In the first sentence, it is the subject. Thus, It is used to replace it, which is singular, subjective and of neuter gender)

Pronouns of OBJECTIVE case:

Singular: Me, You, Him, Her, It         Plural: Us, You, Them

Examples:

DIRECT OBJECT-

  • Gupta has promoted Krishna to the post of project manager.
  • Gupta has promoted him to the post of project manager.

(Krishna is the object in this sentence and experiences the verb promoted. Hence, Krishna is in objective case. To replace it with a pronoun, we need a singular masculine pronoun of the objective case, which is him.)

INDIRECT OBJECT-

  • The shopkeeper gave the children complimentary candies.
  • The shopkeeper gave them complimentary candies.

(Children are the indirect object in this sentence and experiences the verb gave second, after ‘candies’ which are direct object. Hence, children are in objective case. To replace it with a pronoun we need a plural pronoun of common gender and objective case, which is them.)

OBJECT OF A PREPOSITION-

  • Should we talk to Reena about this problem?
  • Should we talk to her about this problem?

(Reena is the object of the preposition ‘to‘ in this sentence. Hence, Reena is in objective case. To replace it with a pronoun we need a singular feminine pronoun of objective case, which is her.)

Pronouns of POSSESSIVE case:

When a noun or pronoun shows its possession or authority over something, it is said to be in the possessive case. The possessive case of a pronoun has two forms, namely: Possessive Pronouns and Possessive Adjectives. Possessive adjectives are sometimes also known as Pronominal Adjectives.

PERSON POSSESSIVE PRONOUNS POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVES

SINGULAR

PLURAL

SINGULAR

PLURAL

FIRST PERSON

Mine
Ours
My
Our

SECOND PERSON

Yours
Yours
Your
Your

THIRD PERSON

His/Hers/Its
Theirs
His/Her/Its
Their

Possessive Pronouns behave purely like pronouns; they replace nouns. But Possessive Adjectives act like both pronouns and adjectives. They replace a noun and also qualify another noun. Like adjectives, possessive adjectives are used just before nouns they qualify.

Examples:
  • This problem is yours. (Possessive Pronoun)
  • This is your  problem. (Possessive Adjective)

  • The cafe at the end of the street is favorite place of theirs. (Possessive Pronoun)
  • The cafe at the end of the street is their favourite place.  (Possessive Adjective)

  • This nation is ours and we are proud citizens of its. (Possessive Pronoun)
  • This is our Nation and we are its proud citizens. (Possessive Adjective)

Ø Pronoun classification based on NUMBER

In the top tables, we have already seen that personal pronouns have both singular and plural form depending on the case and person. So, we replace a noun with the pronoun depending on its case, gender, person, and number.

Singular: I, Me, My, Mine, You, Your, Yours, He, She, It, Him, Her, Hers, His, Its

Plural: We, Our, Us, Ours, You, Your, Yours, They, Them, Their, Theirs.

Where to use Pronoun ‘IT’?

 For things without life:

Nouns that are lifeless or noun that belongs to neuter gender are replaced using the pronoun ‘it’.

  • Court has passed a new privacy law. It was really the need of the hour.
  • My nephew broke the flower vase. It was an antique.
  • She sold her old car as it was just standing in her parking lot for years.
For animals when we do not clearly specify their gender:

When someone specifically talks with reference to the gender of an animal, then we use gender-specific personal pronouns. But when an animal is referred to in general, we use the personal pronoun ‘it’ which is used for the neuter gender.

  • We found a tiny cat crying in our backyard, it was all wet in the rain.
  • That is her favorite horse to ride on, it is very strong.
  • Our dog crashed into the car and hit its
 For young child or babies when we do not specify their gender:
  • The child started crying: it is scared of the clown.
  • Her baby is sick: it caught a cold.
 Used as OBJECT to refer to an already stated action or information (to refer to the previous sentence):

Many times, we state something, usually an action or information. And then we wish to restate the same action or information later to some other person.  We can use ‘it’ for the phrase talking about that information to avoid repetition.

  • Lilly spilt the milk, and she is sorry about it.
  • I told my mother about the theft, but she already knew it.
  • Don’t call him now. We have already discussed it.
 Used as temporary SUBJECT in passive sentences when real subject follows:
  • It was appreciated that the entire nation stood together in the atrocity.
  • It is advised to exercise daily.
  • It is easy to blame others.
 Used before a NOUN or PRONOUN to emphasise on it:

Sometimes, we want to emphasise or highlight the noun or pronoun. This is done by adding ‘it’ followed by a ‘to be‘ verb and that noun or pronoun.

  • It was I who called you.
  • It was in Mumbai, where the event took place.
  • It is he who won the championship twice.
Used as SUBJECT of Impersonal Verbs:

Impersonal Verbs is the verb, that has no definite subject. For these verbs, subject is not explicit though the subject is quite comprehensible. For such verbs ‘it’ is used as subject and here it is known as Impersonal Pronoun.

  • It is extremely hot today. (the weather)
  • It rained quite heavily. (the rain rained heavily)
  • It is 12 o’clock in the afternoon. (the time is 12 o’clock)

Where to use Pronoun YOU?

‘You’ is used in the second person, both for the subjective and the objective case. And it is both singular and plural noun. This might create a bit of confusion. Also, remember, ‘you‘ always takes a plural verb irrespective of being used for singular or plural noun.

Examples:

  • You must inform about the updates to the boss. (subjective case – singular)
  • Sam and Ricky, you are called by the principal. (subjective case – plural)
  • He has always considered you his best friend. (objective case – singular)

Sometimes, ‘You‘ is used in a general sense to refer to everyone. These are sentences where we make announcements or state rules.

Examples:

  • The meeting will start at 10:30 am, so you should reach the office by 10 am. (this statement is for the entire staff in a general sense)
  • You should not talk in the library. (this is a general rule for everyone)
→ When we want to make a general statement for everyone (third person) and the gender is not known:

In this case, we have three ways to write the sentence. Either we can refer to both genders using the conjunction ‘or’. Or else, we can use the masculine gender, which refers to both men and women. Or we can use neuter gender ‘they’.

Examples:

  • Inform the students, he or she must attend the seminar tomorrow.
  • Inform the students, he must attend the seminar tomorrow.
  • Inform the students, they must attend the seminar tomorrow.

#KEY-NOTES:
  • Personal pronouns are used for particular individuals, things or groups.
  • They depend on the gender of noun, the person of noun, noun number and case of the noun.
  • Possessive case of pronoun has two forms, namely: Possessive Pronouns and Possessive Adjectives.
  • Pronoun ‘It’ is used for non-living things or neuter gender. Its is also known as Impersonal Pronoun.

#SUMMARY:
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