Get the latest information and updates on GPRC’s response to COVID-19
Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Grammar and Punctuation: First, Second, and Third Person

First-Person Pronouns 

We use first person when talking about:

  • Myself/ourselves (subjective)

  • Things that have happened to me/us (objective)

  • Items I/we own (possessive)

 
Subjective
Objective
Possessive
Singular
I
Me
My/Mine
Plural
We
Us
Our/Ours
 

Examples: 

I always bring my laptop with me.

We need someone to help us with our homework.

Second Person Pronouns 

You normally write in second person when addressing your audience directly.

Second person pronouns include:

 
Subjective and 
Objective
Possessive
Singular and Plural 
 You
Your/Yours
 
Example:

Do you listen to your inner voice?

Is this copy yours?

Third Person Pronouns 

Third person is the most common point of view, and is traditionally used most in academic papers.

When composing a paper, authors usually use third person pronouns or the name of the person's occupation.

 
Subjective
Objective
Possessive
Singular
He / She / It
Him / Her / It
His / Her(s) / Its
Plural
They
Them
Their / Theirs
 
 

Examples:

He sure seems happy to ride his bike with herShe adores her purple helmet; it has a new flower sticker.

They both got new bikes for their birthdays. They have been riding them all day!


Singular "They" 

In recent years, dictionaries and citation styles have added to their definitions and guidelines to include the common use of "they" as a singular third-person pronoun in writing where appropriate.

Some situations include:

  • When the gender or number of the person/people being referred to is unknown;
  • When drawing attention to gender is unnecessary or clunky in the sentence, or;
  • When a person being referred to uses they/them pronouns.
 
Examples (from Merriam-Webster and the APA 7 Style Guide):
  • Every client got a care package delivered to them
  • The person who answered the phone said they didn't know where she was.
 
* Note that singular "they" still uses the same verbs as plural "they." For example, it would still be "they are," never "they is."
Grande Prairie Campus
10726 - 106 Avenue
Grande Prairie, AB T8V 4C4
Phone: 1-780-539-2939
Email: library@gprc.ab.ca
Fairview Campus
11235-98 Avenue
Fairview,AB T0H 1L0
Phone: 1-780-835-6750
Email: fvlibrary@gprc.ab.ca