Personal Pronouns

an icon showing three peoplePersonal pronouns are what most people think of when they see the word pronoun. Personal pronouns include words like heshe, and they. The following sentences give examples of personal pronouns used with antecedents (remember, an antecedent is the noun that a pronoun refers to!):

  • That man looks as if he needs a new coat. (the noun phrase that man is the antecedent of he)
  • Kat arrived yesterday. I met her at the station. (Kat is the antecedent of her)
  • When they saw us, the lions began roaring (the lions is the antecedent of they)
  • Adam and I were hoping no one would find us. (Adam and I is the antecedent of us)
Note: Pronouns like Iwe, and you don’t always require an explicitly stated antecedent. When a speaker says something like “I told you the zoo was closed today,” it’s implied that the speaker is the antecedent for I and the listener is the antecedent for you.

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

  • Jason hurt himself. (Jason is the antecedent of himself)
  • We were teasing each other. (we is the antecedent of each other)

This is true even if the subject is only implied, as in the sentence “Don’t hurt yourself.” You is the unstated subject of this sentence.


Read at the following sentences. Should the reflexive pronoun be used? Why or why not?

  1. Aisha let (her / herself) in when she arrived.
  2. Feel free to let (you / yourself) in when you get here!
  3. Andrés asked Jada if she would let (him / himself) in when (she / herself) arrived.

Pronouns may be classified by three categories: person, number, and case.


Person refers to the relationship that an author has with the text that he or she writes, and with the reader of that text. English has three persons (first, second, and third):

  • First-person is the speaker or writer him- or herself. The first person is personal (I, we, etc.)
  • Second-person is the person who is being directly addressed. The speaker or author is saying this is about you, the listener or reader.
  • Third-person is the most common person used in academic writing. The author is saying this is about other people. In the third person singular there are distinct pronoun forms for male, female, and neutral gender.
Person Pronouns
First I, me, we, us
Second you
Third Male he, him
Female she, her
Neutral it, they, them


Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence.

  1. Sandra often put other people’s needs before her own. That’s why people loved (her / me) so much.
  2. Amelia and Ajani still haven’t arrived. I should make sure I texted (her / them).
  3. I told Frank (he / it) will need three things in order to be successful: determination, discipline, and dexterity.


There are two numbers: singular and plural. As we learned in nouns, singular words refer to only one a thing while plural words refer to more than one of a thing (I stood alone while they walked together).

Person Number Pronouns
First Singular I, me
Plural we, us
Second Singular you
Plural you
Third Singular he, him
she, her
Plural they, them


English personal pronouns have two cases: subject and object (there are also possessive pronouns, which we’ll discuss next). Subject-case pronouns are used when the pronoun is doing the action. (I like to eat chips, but she does not). Object-case pronouns are used when something is being done to the pronoun (John likes me but not her). This video will further clarify the difference between subject- and object-case:


Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence.

  1. I don’t know if I should talk to (he / him). (He / Him) looks really angry today.
  2. Enrico and Brenna are coming over for dinner tomorrow night. (They / Them) will be here at 6:00.
  3. Melissa loves music. (She / Her) listens to it when I drive (she / her) to work.

Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns are used to indicate possession (in a broad sense). Some occur as independent phrases: mine, yours, hers, ours, yours, theirs. For example, “Those clothes are mine.” Others must be accompanied by a noun: my, your, her, our, your, their, as in “I lost my wallet.” His and its can fall into either category, although its is nearly always found in the second.

Both types replace possessive noun phrases. As an example, “Their crusade to capture our attention” could replace “The advertisers’ crusade to capture our attention.”

This video provides another explanation of possessive pronouns:


Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence.

  1. Hey, that’s (my / mine)!
  2. Carla gave Peter (her / hers) phone number.
  3. Remember to leave (their / theirs) papers on the table.


The table below includes all of the personal pronouns in the English language. They are organized by person, number, and case:

Person Number Subject Object Possessive
First Singular I me my mine
Plural we us our ours
Second Singular you you your yours
Plural you you your yours
Third Singular he him his his
she her her hers
it it its its
Plural they them their theirs