First, Second and Third Person Pronouns

First person, second person and third person – Does this ring a bell somewhere? Yes, you guessed it right. They refer to pronouns. This article will introduce you to the first, second and third person pronouns, and show you how they behave in sentences and how the rest of the sentence behaves when they are used.

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What are First, Second and Third Person Pronouns? – Meaning and Definition

Pronouns, in English grammar, are classified into three types – the first person, the second person and the third person pronouns. The classification mainly reflects different perspectives and points of view of the people involved. In simple terms, it can be said that the first person is used to refer to oneself/ourselves, the second person to refer to the person one is talking to, and the third person to refer to the other person, people or things.

Let us look at some dictionary definitions to have a clearer understanding of what each type of pronoun is. According to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, the first person is defined as “a set of pronouns and verb forms used by a speaker to refer to himself or herself, or to a group including himself or herself”; the second person as “​the form of a pronoun or verb used when addressing somebody” and the third person as “a set of pronouns and verb forms used by a speaker to refer to other people and things”.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary’s definitions of the first, second and third person pronouns are as follows. The first person is defined as “a set of linguistic forms (such as verb forms, pronouns, and inflectional affixes) referring to the speaker or writer of the utterance in which they occur”; the second person as “a set of linguistic forms (such as verb forms, pronouns, and inflectional affixes) referring to the person or thing addressed in the utterance in which they occur” and the third person as “a set of linguistic forms (such as verb forms, pronouns, and inflectional affixes) referring to one that is neither the speaker or writer of the utterance in which they occur nor the one to whom that utterance is addressed”.

Using First, Second and Third Person Pronouns in Sentences – Verb Conjugation

Pronouns, as we already know, are used in the place of a noun to avoid the repetition of the same noun over and over again. According to the noun they substitute, they are classified into three types – the first person, the second person and the third person. These terms, as discussed earlier, also indicate the point of view from which something is said or written.

Apart from being classified into three, they are further classified based on their number as singular and plural. The following table will help in understanding this. Check it out.

Pronoun

Person

Number

I

First person

Singular

We

First person

Plural

You

Second person

Singular/Plural

He

Third person

Singular

She

Third person

Singular

It

Third person

Singular

They

Third person

Plural

The usage of these pronouns is fairly easy; the only factor you have to focus on is the conjugation of the verb with respect to the pronoun used as the subject in the sentence. Let us look at how each of them are conjugated.

Rule 1

When the primary verb in the sentence is a regular verb or an irregular verb, the conjugation of the verb when representing the simple present tense changes according to the pronoun used. This does not apply to the simple past or simple future tenses as they have the same verb form irrespective of the pronoun acting as the subject. Take a look at the following table to understand.

Pronoun

Person (SIngular/Plural)

Verb (SIngular/Plural)

Example

I

First person singular

Plural verb

I like chocolates.

We

First person plural

Plural verb

We like chocolates.

You

Second person singular/plural

Plural verb

You like chocolates.

He

Third person singular

Singular verb

He likes chocolates.

She

Third person singular

Singular verb

She likes chocolates.

They

Third person plural

Plural verb

They like chocolates.

It

Third person singular

Singular verb

It works well

Rule 2

Verbs such as ‘to be’, ‘do’ and ‘have’ are conjugated in their various forms in accordance with the pronouns in the sentence. Here is a table to make it easier for you to comprehend.

‘To be’ Form of Verbs in the Simple Present Tense

Pronoun

Verb

Example

I

am

I am a nurse.

We

are

We are seventh grade students.

You

are

You are amazing.

He

is

He is clever.

She

is

She is an architect.

They

are

They are in the lobby.

It

is

It is exactly the way you described.

‘To be’ Form of Verbs in the Simple Past Tense

Pronoun

Verb

Example

I

was

I was a pilot.

We

were

We were at the park yesterday.

You

were

You were wonderful.

He

was

He was sad.

She

was

She was excited for her brother’s graduation.

They

were

They were exhausted.

It

was

It was completed last week.

When the forms of the verb ‘be’ are used as auxiliary verbs to form the present continuous, past continuous and future continuous tenses, make sure you follow the same conjugation rules.

The table below shows you how different forms of ‘have’ are used with each pronoun. The ‘have’ verb, when used in the present perfect tense, follows the same conjugation rules.

Forms of ‘Have’ in the Simple Present Tense

Pronoun

Verb

Example

I

have

I have a dog.

We

have

We have pasta from Rolling Dough Cafe.

You

have

You have someone waiting for you.

He

has

He has a brother.

She

has

She has a pet hamster.

They

have

They have all the documents.

It

has

It has a nice touch.

Below is a table to help you learn how the ‘do’ is conjugated when used with different pronouns.

Forms of ‘Do’ in the Simple Present Tense

Pronoun

Verb

Example

I

do

I do all the baking in the kitchen.

We

do

We do it regularly.

You

do

You do look like your father.

He

does

He does all the work by himself.

She

does

She does everything sincerely.

They

do

They do the work given to them without any hesitation.

It

does

It does feel good to be here.

The past and future tense forms of both ‘do’ and ‘have’ remain the same for all pronouns. The past forms of ‘do’ and ‘have’ are ‘did’ and ‘had’ respectively. Also remember that when these verbs (‘to be’, ‘have’ and ‘do’) are used as helping verbs, they have to follow the rules of conjugation. One added characteristic of ‘do’ is that they are used to make negative sentences when other verbs are used as main verbs. Even when this is done, you will have to use the appropriate forms of ‘do’ with respect to the pronoun used.

For example:

  • I do not like spicy dishes.
  • We do not like spicy dishes.
  • You do not like spicy dishes.
  • He does not like spicy dishes.
  • She does not like spicy dishes.
  • They do not like spicy dishes.
  • It does not look good.

Sentence Examples of First, Second and Third Person Pronouns

Here are a few more examples for you. Check them out.

  • Beena cooks for her family.
  • I am on my way to the theatre.
  • They have everything they need.
  • We do not know how to finish this experiment.
  • Sindhu works as a cyber security analyst in Attos, Bangalore.
  • He is reading ‘The God of Small Things’.
  • She has finished all her work.
  • Veena and Reena are participating in the quiz competition.
  • The cat drinks milk.
  • The teacher does not let us into the class unless we complete our homework.

Check Your Understanding of First, Second and Third Person Pronouns

Go through the following sentences and fill in the blanks with the right conjugated form of the verb given in brackets in accordance with the noun/pronoun used as the subject.

1. Harini __________ (keep – simple present tense) her brother happy.

2. Everyone __________ (like – simple present tense) people who talk freely.

3. Jai, Deekshitha and Andrew __________ (play – present continuous tense) table tennis.

4. The landlord __________ (agree – present perfect tense) to let us pay the rent after the fifth of this month.

5. All the students __________ (to be – simple past tense) excited to see which teacher would win the lemon and spoon race.

6. Rachel __________ (work – past continuous tense) as a waitress at Central Perk earlier.

7. My mom __________ (appreciate – simple present tense negative) me going out with my friends every now and then.

8. The ambulance driver __________ (make – simple present tense) sure he reaches the spot within five to ten minutes when called.

9. Your nails __________ (look – simple present tense) great.

10. We __________ (miss – present perfect tense) you.

11. Benny __________ (do – simple past tense) this.

12. Nandita said that she __________ (see – past perfect tense) you yesterday at the bus stand.

13. My sister __________ (to be – simple present tense) on a strict diet.

14. This game __________ (seem – simple present tense negative) to interest me at all.

15. Riya __________ (visit – present perfect tense) all the seven wonders of the world.

Here are the answers. Check to see if you have conjugated the verbs correctly according to the noun/pronoun.

1. Harini keeps her brother happy.

2. Everyone likes people who talk freely.

3. Jai, Deekshitha and Andrew are playing table tennis.

4. The landlord has agreed to let us pay the rent after the fifth of this month.

5. All the students were excited to see which teacher would win the lemon and spoon race.

6. Rachel was working as a waitress at Central Perk earlier.

7. My mom doesn’t appreciate me going out with my friends every now and then.

8. The ambulance driver makes sure he reaches the spot within five to ten minutes when called.

9. Your nails look great.

10. We have missed you.

11. Benny did this.

12. Nandita said that she had seen you yesterday at the bus stand.

13. My sister is on a strict diet.

14. This game does not seem to interest me at all.

15. Riya has visited all the seven wonders of the world.

Frequently Asked Questions on First, Second and Third Person Pronouns in English

What is a first person pronoun?

A first person pronoun is one that is used to refer to the person who is speaking. First person pronouns are used to refer to oneself or ourselves as we speak. First person pronouns in English include ‘I’ and ‘we’.

What is a second person pronoun?

A second person pronoun is one that is used to refer to the person being addressed — in other words, the person/people one is talking to. The second person pronoun in English is ‘you’ (used both for singular and plural subjects).

What is a third person pronoun?

A pronoun that refers to neither the speaker nor the one who is spoken to is called a third person pronoun. Examples of third person pronouns include ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘they’ and ‘it’.