He vs. His

'He' and 'his' are two examples of gender-specific words in the English language. One is a personal pronoun, the other is a possessive determiner and pronoun.

"He" vs. "His" in the English Grammar

Main Difference

'He' and 'his' are both pronouns, with a slight difference. 'His' can also be a determiner.

Subject Pronoun

'He' is the subject pronoun that represents the masculine person or animal or an unidentified person who does the action of the verb.

Male Person or Animal

'He' is the third person singular subject pronoun. As the name suggests, subject pronouns represent a male person already mentioned that does the action of the verb.

This is Brian. He's my roommate.

Instead of repeating the noun 'Brian', we used 'he' to avoid repetition.

'He' can also refer to a male animal especially with pet animals that the speaker wants to show a deeper connection to the animal.

This is my dog, Rover. He is my best friend.

Person with Unidentified or Unknown Gender

'He' can refer to a person in general, either we don't know male or female or we don't want to specifically state their gender.

He who loves to sleep, will soon meet poverty.

Every student must register, otherwise he cannot attend the classes.

Gender Specific Pronouns

In the past, 'he' was used to refer to both men and women. But now, many consider this unacceptable. The better choice is to use the singular 'they' after everybody, everyone, anybody, anyone, somebody, someone, etc.

God

'He' written with the capital letter 'H', refers to God in religious texts.

He is The Compassionate The Merciful.

Possessive Determiner and Possessive Pronoun

The possessive form of 'he' is 'his'. It talks about a thing, idea, etc. that belongs to a male person or animal who has already been mentioned or is easily identified.

James loves his car.

My dog loves chasing his tail.

Call him on his cell phone.

God

'His' with a capital letter 'H' can also refer to God in some religions.

Trust in His ultimate Wisdom.

Possessive Pronoun

When we have a noun following 'his', 'his' is a determiner. But when 'his' comes alone in the sentence and there's no noun following it, 'his' is a pronoun. Look at the examples:

The car was his.

His was a particularly rude comment.

Gender Neutrality

'His' is often used to refer to a person that we're not sure is a male or female, or we do not want to express their gender. This happens mostly in formal or written English. But now, many consider this unacceptable. The better choice is to use the singular 'they' after everybody, everyone, anybody, anyone, somebody, someone, etc.

Somebody left his jacket.

It's better to say, 'somebody left their jacket.'

Honorific Titles

'His' is used in addressing someone with authority to show courtesy or respect for the person in a higher position or rank.

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is going to give a speech.

His Grace is at the meeting right now.

of + His

When 'his' is preceded by the preposition 'of', it means something that belongs to or is connected with a male person or animal.

I'm a friend of his.

This car of his is the most unusual car I've ever seen.

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