Today, we have an important subject to cover for all learners: subject pronouns! In English, these are used to replace full nouns, and it's important for learners to be able to recognize and use them. Many subject pronoun forms look similar to the other personal pronouns, like object pronouns and possessive pronouns, but not always! And most importantly: Subject pronouns can't be left out of a sentence in English, like in some languages.
Here's everything you need to know about English subject pronouns.
In this post:
What are subject pronouns in English?
Subject pronouns are personal pronouns that replace the subject of the verb—for example, instead of repeating my little sister over and over in a conversation, I can also use "she." Subject pronouns are used for the person or thing doing the action of the sentence, and in English, they always come before the verb (although questions have a slightly different word order) and can't be left out of the sentence like they can in Spanish.
Here are a few examples of subject pronouns—notice how they are the subject of the sentence and that they come before the verb:
- The customers arrived before the store opened. They had to wait a few minutes.
- Normally the journalist works from home, but today she is at the office.
- Hey, Zari and Lily! You all left your bags on the bus!
Here is the full list of subject pronouns in English:
(you all, y'all, ye, yinz, you guys)
Tips for using subject pronouns in English
There are a 3 important points to remember about subject pronouns in English:
Subject pronouns go before verbs.
In regular sentences, the subject pronoun will always go before the verb (although in questions, the rule is more complicated). English doesn't have much flexibility when it comes to word order, so look before the verb to find the subject!
Subject pronouns are not optional.
This one is important, so we’re saying it again! Subject pronouns are required—English verbs don't change to show who is doing an action, so those subject pronouns are really helpful and can't be omitted like in other languages.
It is used as a "dummy" pronoun.
In English, it is used to refer to things and animals that aren't pets, but it is also a placeholder, or "dummy," pronoun. For general statements, you'll use it in English: for example, It is nice to meet you and It's not easy to learn grammar rules. You'll also use it in statements about the weather, like It is sunny and It's going to rain tomorrow.
Subject pronouns are responsible for all the action
Understanding subject pronouns and how to select the right form will help you communicate in English—and they will help you learn the other personal pronoun forms, too!
Examples of subject pronouns in English
Today at work, I have to give a presentation about owls on TikTok.
Can you help me practice my talk?
My boss will be there, and he makes me nervous.
But his boss loves TikTok, so she will be excited.
We watched a video of an owl in a forest, and it hunted all night long.
In the talk, I show a clip of a cute baby owl—she makes the funniest little sounds!
If someone asks about the twerking, they won't get an answer.
No, we never know what TikTok owls will do next.
If you all open the app right now, an owl could be in your feed!
It's true—they are unpredictable.