Definition of Personal Pronoun
A personal pronoun represents a particular person, a thing, a place, an animal, or a group. Its purpose is to avoid repetition of a noun in the sentence, or in the text.
It appears in the form of I, you, he, she, it, they, and we. It is typically used for backward or anaphoric reference; however, it may be used as a forward reference. For instance, “Among naturalists, when a bird is seen well beyond its normal range, it is called an accidental.” (The Waterworks by E.L. Doctorow). In this line, the author has used forward reference, where “it” refers to a bird.
Everyday Use of Personal Pronoun
- He has bought a new android mobile phone.
- Can you pay a visit to the patient?
- Honestly, I believed she would accept the offer.
- She pulled the curtains down.
- Will you go with us?
- Take them to the library.
Types of Personal Pronoun
- Subjective Personal Pronoun
This type of personal pronoun works as a subject, for instance:
- They are happy.
- You have done great.
- Objective Personal Pronoun
This personal pronoun works as an object, either indirect or direct, or as an object of a preposition. It can appear in the form of me, you, it, her, him, them, and us. For instance:
- Robert knows her.
- Robert gave them a letter.
- Robert went with her.
In the first example, the personal pronoun is serving a direct object, while in the second example, it is serving an indirect object, and in the third example, it is serving as an object of a preposition.
Examples of Personal Pronoun in Literature
Example #1: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (by Lewis Carroll)
“They told me you had been to her,
And mentioned me to him:
She gave me a good character,
But said I could not swim.
He sent them word I had not gone
(We know it to be true):
If she should push the matter on,
What would become of you?”
The passage is an excellent example of personal pronouns in use. Carroll has used both subjective personal pronouns, they, you, I, he, she, it, and you, shown in italics; and objective personal pronouns, me and her, shown as underlined.
Example #2: Notes from a Small Island (by Bill Bryson)
“[M]ake the board of directors of British Telecom go out and personally track down every last red phone box that they sold off to be used as shower stalls and garden sheds in far-flung corners of the globe, make them put them all back, and then sack them no, –kill them. Then truly will London be glorious again.”
In this excerpt, the author has made use of both subjective and objective personal pronouns. They have replaced two nouns: “directors of British Telecom,” and “phone box.”
Example #3: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (by J.K. Rowling)
“The Dursleys knew that the Potters had a small son, too, but they had never even seen him. This boy was another good reason for keeping the Potters away; they didn’t want Dudley mixing with a child like that…”
Rowling has substituted a noun, “Dursleys,” with a subjective personal pronoun, “they,” and the Potters’ son with objective personal pronoun, “him.” These pronouns give smooth flow in writing and reading the text.
Example #4: If Tomorrow Comes (by Sidney Sheldon)
“I feel like a princess in a fairy tale, Mother,” Tracy said. “I never believed anyone could be so happy. Tomorrow night I’m meeting Charles’s parents.” She deepened her voice as though making a pronouncement. “The Stanhopes, of Chestnut Hill,” she sighed. “They’re an institution. I have butterflies the size of dinosaurs.”
In this example, the subjective personal pronouns are I, they, and she; and the objective pronoun is her. Sheldon has used a personal pronoun as a forward reference, with “I” replacing the noun “Tracy.”
The main role of a personal pronoun is to replace a noun within a sentence. It can function as either a subject or an object in a text or speech, and helps avoid repetition of particular nouns. Thus, the personal pronoun is used as a helpful tool to ease the flow of sentences and words in a speech or writing. They also smooth thoughts, and help engage the readers.