Personal Pronouns for Subjects

A personal pronoun is used as a substitute for a person or people previously mentioned, their antecedent. Personal pronouns have number, person, gender, and case. English has both singular and plural pronouns. It uses first, second, and third person. Only the third person singular has gender (masculine, feminine, neuter, and neutral). Different sets of pronouns are used for the subjective, objective, and possessive cases. 

When teaching personal pronouns keep in mind that some languages have masculine, feminine, and neuter forms for each person, singular and plural. Whereas other languages have only one form for third person singular without a gender.

Personal Pronouns for Subjects

The most basic personal pronouns are the subject pronouns. A subject pronoun always functions as a subject.  The table below shows the number and person. 




First Person


Second Person


Third Person

he (m)

she (f)

it (n)

they (n)


    Here are examples of these pronouns used in a sentence.

    • I am eating.
    • You can eat an apple.
    • He is watching a video. (m)
    • She is watching a video. (f)
    • It is running up a tree. (n)
    • They are studying. (n)
    • We are waiting for the bus.
    • You are eating supper.
    • They are playing.

    Here are examples of subject pronouns used in questions.

    • Am I next in line?
    • Can you help Todd?
    • Is he watching a video?
    • Has she finished her homework?
    • Where is it?
    • Are they home?
    • Are we going to the park?
    • Are you going to the library?
    • Are they going to school?


    When introducing subject pronouns, demonstrate with yourself and students in the class. This can be lots of fun and everyone is actively involved.

    First, pantomime by performing different actions or displaying different emotions. Say and write corresponding sentences on the board. Students should practice by making statements about themselves. 

    • I am sitting.  Ms. Smith is sitting.
    • I have a blue shirt. Ms. Smith has a blue shirt.

    Next, indicate a student and describe them. (Pointing is offensive in some cultures.) Again, write corresponding sentences on the board. Let the students practice making sentences about yourself. 

    • You are learning English. Javier is learning English.
    • You are from China. Mei is from China.

     Choose a male student and say a sentence about them. Repeat this process and soon the class will recognize that 'he' refers to males. Write sentences on the board. Have students practice making sentences about their male classmates. Learning third person masculine, feminine and neuter is challenging for students whose first language does not use gender.

    • He is a student. Victor is a student.
    • He is from Thailand. Re is from Thailand.

    Repeat this process with female students.

    • She has brown hair. Madeline has brown hair.
    • She speaks Spanish. Juanita speaks Spanish.

    Lastly, repeat the process with objects around the room to teach third person singular.

    • It is a book.
    • It is a chair.

    If a gender-neutral student is present or your school has gender requirements, 'they' should be introduced. The neutral third person singular 'they' is often taught to advanced students for writing purposes as an alternative for 'one'.

    • They are from India. Haji is from India.
    • They have black pants. Jane has black pants.

    Ask students to teach participate when teaching plural pronouns. You and a student can perform actions together. Say and write sentences on the board. Encourage students to create their own sentences.

    • We are walking. I and Anna are walking. 
    • We are reading. I and Mohammad are reading.

    When teaching plural 'you' be sure to indicate two or more students. Demonstrate, say, write sentences, and have students practice making their own sentences.

    • You are from Mexico. Jorge, Jose, and Maria are from Mexico.
    • You have brown eyes. Yoshi and Huda have brown eyes.

    Lastly, teach 'they' with different groups of students using the same methods above. You can have lots of fun by asking students to dance or sleep. 

    • They are dancing.
    • They are sleeping.

    Older students who know language terms of number, person, and gender can be taught using the chart above. Again, demonstrate using each pronoun and have students practice making their own statements.

    Worksheets and writing reinforce using subject pronouns.

     Happy Teaching!

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