Object Pronouns

Pronouns that can take the place of an object are called object pronouns. In this article, you will get to know different kinds of object pronouns.

Object Pronouns in the English Grammar

What Are Object Pronouns?

Object pronouns (or objective pronouns) are used when we want to substitute a noun that has the role of the object in a sentence. The object in a sentence is the receiver of the action.

English Object Pronouns

There are seven main object pronouns:

Singular Object Pronouns Plural Object Pronouns
first-person me us
second-person you you
third-person him/her/it them

Take a look at these examples:

I saw Jane today. → I saw her today.

In this example, Jane is a third-person singular and can be replaced by pronoun 'her.'

He gave his food to his friend. → He gave it to him.

In this example, 'his food' (an object) and 'his friend' (a male person) are substituted with pronouns 'it' and 'him.'

Object pronouns are used instead of nouns, usually because we already know what the object is. It makes the sentence easier to read and understand and avoids repetition. We normally use object pronouns:

  • for the object of a verb
  • after a preposition (including after phrasal verbs)
  • after 'be' (In very formal English, the subject pronoun is sometimes used here, but this is very old-fashioned and unusual.)
  • with short answers
  • after 'as' and 'than' for comparison
  • after 'but' and 'except'

Object Pronoun 'You'

Second Person Singular and Plural

The second-person object pronoun 'you' has the same form when singular or plural and it does not change when we are addressing one person or several people.

Hey! I'm talking to you!

Generic or Impersonal 'You'

'You' can also be used as an 'impersonal pronoun.' In this case it does not necessarily address someone, but it shows a general law or situation. Look at these examples:

I told you not to smoke here.

In this example, it has been told to the person not to smoke in the area (the action of telling happened to the pronoun 'you').

using object pronouns in a sentence

Third-Person Singular Pronouns

Third-person singular has three forms in object pronouns: 'him,' 'her,' and 'it.' This is one of the only cases in the English language in which gender plays a role in grammar.
In English, the grammatical gender of a noun is usually the same as its natural gender, which means a man is male in grammar and a woman is female; however, there are some important exceptions:

Third-person Pronoun 'Her'

1. 'Her' is generally used to refer to a girl or a woman. It is also used to refer to a car or a ship. For animals, we can use 'her' if the gender is known, especially when we want to emphasize the gender of the animal. Take a look at these examples:

This is my ship, I won't let them take her.

'Her' here refers to a ship.

My country is my pride and I love her.

Mia is my cat. You can pet her if you like.

Third-person Pronoun 'It'

When referring to the weather, temperature, time, an inanimate object or a child or animal of undetermined gender, the neuter form “it” can be used.

Third-person Pronoun 'Him'

2. 'Him' is used to refer to a boy or a man, but it can also be used to refer to God. 'Him' has the same rules for animals as 'Her.' Take a look at the following examples:

I couldn't keep up with him.

My cat is really lovely. I can't imagine anything happening to him.

Third-person Plural Pronoun 'Them'

Impersonal 'Them'

'Them' is a generic pronoun that refers to a group of people in general. For example:

This will help them expand their resources.

We can also use 'them' for authorities like police, government, etc. For example:

She called the police and asked them to help her.

Using 'Them' to Avoid Gender

We use 'singular them' for non-binary people with unknown/irrelevant gender, for generic 'him' and 'her' and with indefinite antecedent. Have a look at the following example:

Sara is a good student, I know them.

Review

Object pronouns are used as alternatives for objective nouns. Check out the table of object pronouns.

First person Second person Third person
Singular me you him/her/it
Plural us you them

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