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Practice with the exercises:
Exercise 1

1. The subject of a sentence

The subject of a sentence is that person, animal or thing which performs the action expressed by the verb, so that a relationship of concordance is established between the two elements.

My parentss work v
in a publishing house.
You s
have v
an e-mail.
In English a sentence must always have a subject and this can be a noun (person, animal or thing) or be replaced by a personal pronoun.

2. When are personal pronouns used?

Personal pronouns are those words that we use when we want to substitute the subject.

Mary is a teacher. / She is a teacher.
My friends are Japanese. / They are Japanese.

In these examples the subjects Mary and my friends are nouns and noun phrases and have been replaced by the personal pronouns she and they, respectively.

IIn addition, the personal pronouns indicate the person (first, second or third), and the number (singular or plural) as well as the gender (masculine or feminine) of the subject.

3. How do the personal pronouns work?

  • Directly, without replacing a noun mentioned before.
    I play the violin every afternoon.
    We go to the cinema.
  • Substituting a noun previously mentioned.
    Sue is in the kitchen. She is making a cake.
    My children are painting. They love it.

In short, when we use a personal pronoun instead of a noun it's because we always know what or who we refer to.

4. Structure of personal pronouns

Personal pronouns Number Examples
I     1st person singular I am from Italy
You     2nd person singular You are my best friend.
He    Male 3rd person singular He is my husband.
She    Female She is my grandma.
It    Animal or object It is my book.
We     1st person plural We are going to the cinema.
You     2nd person plural You are my guests.
They   People, animals and objects 3rd person plural They are my friends.

5. Things to be taken into account

  • The personal pronoun I is always written in capital letters.
  • The personal pronoun you is used in both singular and plural. To know which one is being referred to, will depend on the context.
  • There is no gender difference between personal pronouns except in the case of he/she.
  • The personal pronoun it is not only used to substitute a subject formed by an object or animal, but can also be used to refer to concepts or abstract ideas such as time or other aspects like space, weather, temperature, distances, etc. 
It's 3 o'clock.
It is raining.
In In the case of animals, we can also refer to them as he/she as long as it is a specific animal (our pet) or it is known to the speaker.

6. Common mistakes

Personal pronouns are used to substitute the subject, that is to say the person, animal or object that performs the action of the verb; therefore, one can never appear either immediately before or after the other.

(Mary) She is my friend.

Remember!

In English we always have to use a subject.

 

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