English Grammar Review
Nouns and Pronouns

Personal Pronouns

A pronoun is used to "stand for" a noun. Personal pronouns are chosen to match the grammatical person in the sentence:

first person (writer): I collected the data in Brazil.

second person (reader): You analyzed the results for Sao Paulo.

third person (others): He understands the implications for the Amazon.

This is how personal pronouns are chosen when the pronoun is the subject of a sentence or a clause:

But things change for personal pronouns when the grammatical person is not the subject of a sentence or a clause.

first person (writer): Antonio asked me yesterday.

second person (reader): Maria will invite you later.

third person (others): Jose saw them and asked about them.

This is how personal pronouns are chosen when the pronoun is the object of a verb or the object of a preposition:

Note: When you use a personal pronoun in a comparison that uses the word than or the word as, be careful!

Ms. Silva writes better than me. [bad]
Ms. Silva writes better than I. [correct, but sounds awkward]

Mr. Sousa is not as skilled as me. [bad]
Mr. Sousa is not as skilled as I. [correct, but sounds awkward]

Play it safe: use words that complete the thought. You will be correct and clear, and your writing will not sound awkward.

Ms. Silva writes better than I write. [okay]
Ms. Silva writes better than I do write. [a bit awkward]
Ms. Silva writes better than I do. [good]

Mr. Sousa is not as skilled as I am skilled. [a bit awkward]
Mr. Sousa is not as skilled as I am. [good]

If you do that tiny bit of extra work, you will always be correct and clear, and your sentences will not sound awkward.

Some personal pronouns are used in a possessive form. Possessive personal pronouns that are next to a noun are spelled one way, and those that are apart from the noun are spelled a different way.

Possessive personal pronouns next to (preceding) the noun:

first person (writer): My chair is comfortable.

second person (reader): Your desk is sturdy.

third person (others): Her office is close.

Possessive personal pronouns apart from the noun:

first person (writer): That book is mine.

second person (reader): The email? Yours was clear.

third person (others): The decision had to be hers.

Note: Some people are tempted to include an apostrophe in the possessive personal pronouns. Do not do that!

The choice should be ours. [good]
The choice should be our's. [bad]

The presentation? Yes, yours is last. [good]
The presentation? Yes, your's is last. [bad]

I am a friend of hers. [good]
I am a friend of her's. [bad]

Some possessive forms of pronouns, when combined with the words self or selves create "compound" personal pronouns. English teachers call these compound personal pronouns reflexive and intensive.

Reflexive: These pronouns are used to make the action of the verb turn back to the subject.

He tried it himself!

We enjoyed ourselves.

Intensive: These pronouns are used to emphasize a noun.

I myself heard the explosion.

The factory itself suffered no damage.

Note: Natural speech easily adopts compound personal pronouns, but when a regular pronoun would suffice, try to stick with that in your writing at work.

Ana and myself were not the only ones there. [not so good]
Ann and I were not the only ones there. [good]

Lesson: Personal Pronouns
Module: Nouns and Pronouns
Course: English Grammar Review