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.

"Impersonal Pronouns" in English Grammar

What Are Impersonal Pronouns?

Impersonal pronouns are used to refer to people in general, without specifying their identity or identifying them.

English Impersonal Pronouns

There are three impersonal pronouns in English:


'One' is used to talk about people in general or about unidentified/unknown things.

'One' is used for singular nouns while for plural nouns 'ones' is used:

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.


When 'you' is used 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.


'They' is used 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 pronoun 'they'. It is called singular they.

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


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