Impersonal Pronouns for intermediate learners

An impersonal pronoun does not refer to a specific person or thing. These pronouns help us talk about a thing or person without mentioning what or who.

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"Impersonal Pronouns" in English Grammar

What Are Impersonal Pronouns?

Impersonal pronouns are used to talk about people in general without mentioning who they are without identifying them.

English Impersonal Pronouns

We have three impersonal pronouns in the English language:

One

We use 'one' to talk about people in general or for unidentified/unknown things.

We use 'one' for singular nouns and 'ones' for plural nouns:

When Do We Use 'One'?

We use 'one' and 'ones' after:

Matthew is the one sitting next to Joe.

Which one do you prefer?

Matthew is the fat one and Joe is the thin one.

You

When we use 'you' to refer to people in general in informal contexts, it is called 'impersonal you' or 'generic you.' It refers to anyone or everyone. In these cases, 'you' has the same meaning as 'people':

If you want success, you must work very hard for it.

In this example, 'you' has the same meaning as 'people.'

They

We use 'they' to talk about a group of people, such as an authority, an institution, a company, etc. In these sentences, 'they' refers to people in general.

They are ruining the environment.

When we do not want to mention the gender of a person, we use the third-person plural pronouns 'they'. It is called singular they.

If a person finds some money on the ground, what would they do?

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