English personal pronouns
The personal pronoun
Personal pronoun
Personal pronouns are pronouns used as substitutes for proper or common nouns. All known languages contain personal pronouns.- English personal pronouns :English in common use today has seven personal pronouns:*first-person singular...

s in the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

can have various forms according to gender
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

, number
Grammatical number
In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, and adjective and verb agreement that expresses count distinctions ....

, person
Grammatical person
Grammatical person, in linguistics, is deictic reference to a participant in an event; such as the speaker, the addressee, or others. Grammatical person typically defines a language's set of personal pronouns...

, and case
Grammatical case
In grammar, the case of a noun or pronoun is an inflectional form that indicates its grammatical function in a phrase, clause, or sentence. For example, a pronoun may play the role of subject , of direct object , or of possessor...

. Modern English
Modern English
Modern English is the form of the English language spoken since the Great Vowel Shift in England, completed in roughly 1550.Despite some differences in vocabulary, texts from the early 17th century, such as the works of William Shakespeare and the King James Bible, are considered to be in Modern...

 is a language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

 with very little noun
In linguistics, a noun is a member of a large, open lexical category whose members can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause, the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition .Lexical categories are defined in terms of how their members combine with other kinds of...

 or adjective
In grammar, an adjective is a 'describing' word; the main syntactic role of which is to qualify a noun or noun phrase, giving more information about the object signified....

In grammar, inflection or inflexion is the modification of a word to express different grammatical categories such as tense, grammatical mood, grammatical voice, aspect, person, number, gender and case...

, to the point where some authors describe it as analytic, but the Modern English system of personal pronoun
In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun is a pro-form that substitutes for a noun , such as, in English, the words it and he...

s has preserved most of the inflectional complexity of Old English and Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....


Unlike other nouns, which are undeclined
In linguistics, declension is the inflection of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and articles to indicate number , case , and gender...

 for case except for possession (woman/woman's), English pronouns have a number of forms, which are named according to their (supposed) grammatical role in a sentence:
  • a subjective case (I/we/etc.), used as the subject
    Subject (grammar)
    The subject is one of the two main constituents of a clause, according to a tradition that can be tracked back to Aristotle and that is associated with phrase structure grammars; the other constituent is the predicate. According to another tradition, i.e...

     of a verb
    A verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word that in syntax conveys an action , or a state of being . In the usual description of English, the basic form, with or without the particle to, is the infinitive...

  • an objective case (me/us/etc.), used as the object
    Object (grammar)
    An object in grammar is part of a sentence, and often part of the predicate. It denotes somebody or something involved in the subject's "performance" of the verb. Basically, it is what or whom the verb is acting upon...

     of a verb or preposition. The same forms are also used as disjunctive pronouns.
  • a reflexive
    Reflexive pronoun
    A reflexive pronoun is a pronoun that is preceded by the noun, adjective, adverb or pronoun to which it refers within the same clause. In generative grammar, a reflexive pronoun is an anaphor that must be bound by its antecedent...

    form (myself/ourselves etc.). This typically refers back to a noun or pronoun (its antecedent) within the same clause (for example, She cut herself). This form is also sometimes used optionally in a non-reflexive function, as a substitute for a non-reflexive pronoun (for example, For someone like myself, . . ., This article was written by Professor Smith and myself), though some style guides recommend avoiding such use. The same reflexive forms also are used as intensive pronoun
    Intensive pronoun
    - In English :An intensive pronoun is a pronoun used to add emphasis to a statement; for example, "I did it myself." While English intensive pronouns use the same form as reflexive pronouns, an intensive pronoun is different from a reflexive, because the pronoun can be removed without altering the...

    s (for example, She made the dress herself).
  • two possessive
    Possessive pronoun
    A possessive pronoun is a part of speech that substitutes for a noun phrase that begins with a possessive determiner . For example, in the sentence These glasses are mine, not yours, the words mine and yours are possessive pronouns and stand for my glasses and your glasses, respectively...

     forms, used to indicate the possessor
    Possession (linguistics)
    Possession, in the context of linguistics, is an asymmetric relationship between two constituents, the referent of one of which possesses the referent of the other ....

     of another noun. The first group (my/our/etc.) are used as determiners (possessive determiners, also called possessive adjective
    Possessive adjective
    Possessive adjectives, also known as possessive determiners, are a part of speech that modifies a noun by attributing possession to someone or something...

    s), and the second (mine/ours/etc.) as pronouns or predicate adjectives.

Basic personal pronouns of modern English

The basic personal pronoun
Personal pronoun
Personal pronouns are pronouns used as substitutes for proper or common nouns. All known languages contain personal pronouns.- English personal pronouns :English in common use today has seven personal pronouns:*first-person singular...

s of modern English are shown below.

Full list of personal pronouns

The following table shows the full list of English personal pronouns and possessive determiners, including archaic and dialectal forms. Nonstandard, informal and archaic forms are in italics.
| personal pronoun | possessive
| possessive
subjective objective reflexive
first-person | singular I me myself mine my
mine (before vowel)
me (esp. BrE)
plural we us ourselves
ours our
second-person | singular standard (archaic formal) you you yourself yours your
archaic informal thou thee thyself thine thy
thine (before vowel)
plural standard you
you all
you all
yourselves yours your
archaic ye you yourselves yours your
nonstandard or informal y'all
etc.Other variants include: yous, you/youse guys, you/youse gals, you-uns, yis, yinz; possessives: you(r) guys's, you(r) gals's, yous's
y'all's selves y'all's y'all's
third-person | singular | masculine he him himself
his his
feminine she her herself hers her
neuter it it itself its its
generic/epicene (formal) one one oneself one's
generic/epicene (nonstandard) they them themself
theirs their
plural they them themselves
theirs their

For further archaic forms, and information on the evolution of the personal pronouns of English, see Old English pronouns.


The only common distinction between singular and plural you is in the reflexive and emphatic forms. You and its variants can sometimes be used in a generic sense. See Generic you
Generic you
In English grammar and in particular in casual English, generic you or indefinite you is the pronoun you in its use in referring to an unspecified person, as opposed to its use as the second person pronoun.-In English:...



Historically, you was an object pronoun, and ye was its subject counterpart; today, you fills both roles in Standard English, though some dialects use ye for the two roles, and some use ye as an apocopated
In phonology, apocope is the loss of one or more sounds from the end of a word, and especially the loss of an unstressed vowel.-Historical sound change:...

 or clitic
In morphology and syntax, a clitic is a morpheme that is grammatically independent, but phonologically dependent on another word or phrase. It is pronounced like an affix, but works at the phrase level...

 form of you.


Between 1600 and 1800, the various second-person singular forms of thou began to pass out of common usage in most places, except in poetry
Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning...

, archaic-style literature, public prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

, and descriptions of other languages' pronouns. Thou refers to one person who is familiar, as in a friend or family, and also for a person who is being insulted or disrespected (since the formal form implies a degree of respect). Also, as in other European languages, the familiar form is used (presumably as for family and intimates) when speaking to God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 in prayer. Almost all forms of thou have disappeared from Standard Modern English, although a few dialects retain them. Thou
The word thou is a second person singular pronoun in English. It is now largely archaic, having been replaced in almost all contexts by you. It is used in parts of Northern England and by Scots. Thou is the nominative form; the oblique/objective form is thee , and the possessive is thy or thine...

still exists in parts of England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, and in some Christian
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 religious communities
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...


Other second person pronouns

While formal Standard English uses you for both singular and plural, many dialects use various special forms for the plural, such as y'all
Y'all is a contraction of the words "you" and "all". It is used as a plural second-person pronoun. Commonly believed to have originated in the Southern United States, it is primarily associated with Southern American English, African-American Vernacular English, and some dialects of the Western...

(short for "you all"), you guys, yinz
Yinz is a second-person plural pronoun used mainly in southwest Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh, but it is also found throughout the Appalachians....

(short for "you ones"), and yous (also spelled youse). Corresponding reflexive and possessive pronouns are often used as well.

In Scotland, yous is often used for the second person plural (particularly in the Central Belt
Central Belt
The Central Belt of Scotland is a common term used to describe the area of highest population density within Scotland. Despite the name, it is not geographically central but is nevertheless situated at the 'waist' of Scotland on a conventional map and the term 'central' is used in many local...

 area). However, in some parts of the country, ye is used for the plural you. In older times and in some other places today, ye is the nominative case and you is the accusative case. Some English dialect
The term dialect is used in two distinct ways, even by linguists. One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors,...

s generalized ye, while standard English
Standard English
Standard English refers to whatever form of the English language is accepted as a national norm in an Anglophone country...

 generalized you. Some dialects use ye as a clipped or weak
Weak form and strong form
In the phonology of stress-timed languages, the weak form of a word is a form that may be used when the word has no stress, and which is phonemically distinct from the strong form, used when the word is stressed. The strong form serves as the citation form or the isolation form when a word is...

 form of you.

Third person singular

It and its are normally used to refer to an inanimate object or abstract concept.

The masculine pronouns, he and his are used to refer to male persons, while the feminine pronouns, she and her are used to refer to female persons; however babies and young children of indeterminate sex may sometimes be referred to as it (e.g. a child needs its mother).

Though animals are often referred to as it, he and she are sometimes used for animals when the animal's sex is known and is of interest, particularly for higher animals, especially pets and other domesticated animals. Inanimate objects with which humans have a close relationship, such as ships, are sometimes referred to as she. Countries considered as political, rather than geographical, entities are sometimes referred to as she. This may also be extended to towns.

One is used in formal English to refer to an indeterminate person; in informal usage, English speakers often use you instead of one; for example "If one is kind to others..." becomes "If you're kind to others...".

Third person plural

Historically the forms they, their, and them are of Scandinavian origin (from the Viking invasions and settlement in northeastern England during the Danelaw
The Danelaw, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , is a historical name given to the part of England in which the laws of the "Danes" held sway and dominated those of the Anglo-Saxons. It is contrasted with "West Saxon law" and "Mercian law". The term has been extended by modern historians to...

 period from the 9th to the 11th centuries).

The third person plural form 'em is believed to be a survival of the late Old English form heom, which appears as hem in Chaucer, and has apparently lost its aspiration due to being used as an unstressed form. The forms of they are also sometimes used with grammatically or semantically singular antecedents
Antecedent (grammar)
In grammar, an antecedent is a noun, noun phrase, or clause to which an anaphor refers in a coreference. For example, in the passage "I did not see John because he wasn't there", "John" is the antecedent of the anaphor "he"; together "John" and "he" are called a coreference because they both refer...

, though it is a matter of some dispute whether and when such usage is acceptable. When this is the case, they takes a plural verb, but themselves with a singular sense is often changed to themself.

Although some usage writers condemn the use of the "singular they
Singular they
Singular they is the use of they to refer to an entity that is not plural, or not necessarily plural. Though singular they is widespread in everyday English and has a long history of usage, debate continues about its acceptability...

" when the gender is unknown or unimportant, this is often used, both in speech and in writing (e.g. "If a customer requires help, they should contact..."). In fact, a consistent pattern of usage can be traced at least as far back as Shakespeare, and possibly even back to Middle English. It avoids awkward constructions such as he or she. This usage is authorised and preferred by the Australian Government Manual of Style for official usage in government documents. See Singular they
Singular they
Singular they is the use of they to refer to an entity that is not plural, or not necessarily plural. Though singular they is widespread in everyday English and has a long history of usage, debate continues about its acceptability...

. The use of the "singular they" can often be avoided by thinking ahead and rephrasing the whole sentence (e.g. "For assistance, customers should contact...").

Case usage in English

The term case refers to inflectional forms of a noun or pronoun that have an – albeit complex – relation to syntactic function. While most case distinctions have been lost and, in modern English, nouns exhibit only two cases, plain, or common, case and genitive, a few pronouns still retain other cases. However, the relationship between the form of a pronoun and its syntactic function is complex.
In both written and spoken standard English, the nominative, or subjective, case is used exclusively when a single noun is used as the subject of an explicit verb (for example I kicked him, We did it). Use of the accusative, or objective, case as the subject of a verb is normally seen as non-standard or dialectal (e.g. Who said us Yorkshiremen are tight?)

The accusative, or objective, is usually Exceptions include than (which can be regarded as a preposition) in formal English. required for the (single) direct or indirect object of a verb or the object of a preposition , (e.g. He kicked me, She gave me the book, This is for them)

In other functions, use of the accusative (objective) or nominative (subjective) varies, sometimes depending on the level of formality. In the role of a subjective predicative complement, the accusative (objective) case is used predominantly (Is that them at the door?, This [in the photograph] is us at the Mardi Gras), and the use of the nominative (subjective) is normally regarded as very formal (It is she) , pedantic (Who's there?, It is I), or even intuitively recognized as ungrammatical (Is that we in the photograph?). Use of the nominative (subjective) in this role is more likely (in formal English) when followed by a relative clause (It is we who sent them to die).

Following than, the accusative (objective) is also predominant in informal English (They are older than us). Than can be considered a preposition. In formal English, however, than is often followed by the nominative (subjective), than being analysed as a conjunction, with an implicit verb (He is taller than I).

In formal English, no distinction is normally made between single pronouns and pronouns forming a coordinative construction together with a noun or another pronoun; so the nominative (subjective) is used in the subject role and the accusative (objective) is used in the object role. However, a distinction may be made intuitively between single subjects and cordinative constructions (two nouns/pronouns joined by and); so in informal style, though frowned upon and possibly non-standard, the accusative (objective) form of the pronoun may occur in a coordinative subject (The neighbours and us are having a little get-together). Conversely, in coordinative constructions, the nominative (subjective) may also be found where a single pronoun would normally be in the accusative (objective); this is sometimes seen as a hypercorrection. Example: This is another chance for you and I to discuss the problems and opportunities facing Oregon.

See also

  • Disjunctive pronoun
  • Generic antecedents
  • Gender-neutral pronoun
    Gender-neutral pronoun
    A gender-neutral pronoun is a pronoun that is not associated with any gender. It designates two distinct grammatical phenomena, the first being pronouns/periphrastics that have been assigned nontraditional meanings in modern times out of a concern for gender equity, and the second being genderless...

  • Gender-specific pronoun
    Gender-specific pronoun
    A language has 'gender-specific pronouns' when personal pronouns have different forms according to the gender of their referents.The English language has three gender-specific pronouns in the 3rd. person singular, whose declined forms are also gender-specific: he , she , and it...

  • Old English pronouns
  • One (pronoun)
    One (pronoun)
    One is a pronoun in the English language. It is a gender-neutral, third-person singular pronoun, commonly used in English prose...

  • Personal pronoun
    Personal pronoun
    Personal pronouns are pronouns used as substitutes for proper or common nouns. All known languages contain personal pronouns.- English personal pronouns :English in common use today has seven personal pronouns:*first-person singular...

  • Wiktionary table of personal pronouns
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