Personal Pronouns

A personal pronoun stands in for a person or a thing.

This type of pronoun is almost indistinguishable from the too personal pronoun, which asks you deeply intimate things about your colon health, your love life, and your relationship with your mother.

Oh, wait. We're mistaking our roommate for a pronoun.

A personal pronoun is actually pretty impersonal. So what is it, exactly?

A personal pronoun comes in two forms:
- Subjective
- Objective

Use the subjective form (think: subject) for pronouns that perform the action in a sentence. Use the objective form (think: object) for pronouns that receive the action in a sentence.

Some pronouns only work as subjects while some only work as objects. Below is a mini reference guide for you to memorize (yep, memorize). Notice that the word you can basically be whatever it wants—singular, plural, subject, or object. It must be nice to have that kind of freedom.

Subject singular: you, I, he, she, it, they

Subject plural: you, we, they

Object singular: you, me, him, her, it, them

Object plural: you, us, them

 

Examples

" Jeff can't start his day without caffeine, so he drinks three cans of Mountain Dew every morning for breakfast. "

He is a substitute for Jeff. He's the undoubtedly jittery subject of the sentence who does the drinking. And that way, the sentence does read like this: "Jeff can't start his day without caffeine, so Jeff drinks three cans of Mountain Dew every morning for breakfast." Not quite as tidy.

Did you know there are 17 different varieties of Mountain Dew? Our favorite is Passionfruit Frenzy, which you can only get in New Zealand.

" After I lost my pet lizard, Mitch took me out for pizza to make me feel better. "

I is the subject of the sentence; it stands in for the name of the absentminded pet owner who lost a pet. Me is the object of the sentence. It stands in for the name of the person who also received a free slice from Mitch, the best friend ever.

" Manchester United played their first match of the season yesterday afternoon, and they won by an astonishing nine goals. "

They replaces Manchester United, which is the subject of the sentence because they did the winning. They always do the winning. Maybe that's why they can count Justin Timberlake, Megan Fox, and Orlando Bloom among their famous fans.

Common mistakes

 

What if you're faced with more than one subject at a time? Things… stay exactly the same. So what's the problem? Just that people tend to forget that.

When you come up against this issue, think about how you would write the sentence with each part individually. Would you say me went to Comic Con? Uh, not unless you wanted to sit in the corner wearing the Grammar Dunce cap.

Just remember: I is for subjects and me is for objects. I do something, and something is done to me.

Same goes for he/him, she/her, we/us, and they/them.

Examples:

"Check out this picture of Sinbad and I at an Atlanta Braves baseball game."

or

"Check out this picture of Sinbad and me at an Atlanta Braves baseball game."

Which one's right? Well, take out Sinbad out of the first option, and you're left with "Check out this picture of I…" Not great. "Check out this picture of me"? Much better.

"Him and I never got past the big argument we had over the pot pie incident."

or

"He and I never got past the big argument we had over the pot pie incident."

Just follow the rules here. He = subject; him = object. Since we're looking for a subject in this case, we're gonna go with he. (Him didn't do anything, folks.)

P.S. Pot pie incident? Tell us more.

 

Who doesn't love correcting someone when they say, "Harry and me grabbed a tuna melt at the deli"?

It's "Harry and I," groans the crowd.

But this common mistake sometimes makes us hypercorrect from me to I, even when it's not necessary. Don't fall for it.

One of the more common examples is when people say something should stay "just between you and I." It should be "between you and me," but our brains see "and me" and run screaming in the other direction.

Pro tip: just change it to us. It'll save you some hassle.

Example:

"The break up wasn't easy for him and I."

or

"The break up wasn't easy for him and me."

Door number two is the winner. Think about it: does "the break up wasn't easy for I" sound right? Not so much. Make sure each pronoun fits in the sentence on its own ("the break up wasn't easy for me") and you're good to go.

 

Starting a sentence with a phrase like When a hyper person drinks coffee brings about an awkward situation. Which pronoun do you use as the subject of your sentence? Using just he or she can be viewed as sexist, and using one sounds way too archaic.

People are moving towards accepting they as a singular pronoun in these situations. Grammarians are finally beginning to realize what we've all known since the third grade: using he or she sounds crappy. But using they as singular is still a bold move, so only use it in more informal settings or when you're prepared to defend yourself.

If none of these options work for you, rewrite the sentence to avoid the problem entirely. For example, When people who are hyper drink coffee, they tend to bounce off walls.