Choosing between Singular and Plural Pronouns

English pronouns are either singular or plural. Singular pronouns replace singular nouns, which are those that name one person, place, thing, or idea. Plural pronouns replace plural nouns — those that name more than one person, place, thing, or idea. (Grammar terminology has flair, doesn’t it?)

A few pronouns replace other pronouns; in those situations, singular pronouns replace other singular pronouns, and plurals replace plurals. You need to understand pronoun number — singulars and plurals — before you place them in sentences.

Take a look at the following table for a list of some common singular and plural pronouns.

Common Singular and Plural Pronouns
Singular Plural
I We
Me Us
Myself Ourselves
You You
Yourself Yourselves
He/She/It They/Them
Himself/Herself/Itself Themselves
Who Who
Which Which
That That

Notice that some of the pronouns do double duty; they take the place of both singular and plural nouns or pronouns.

Most of the time choosing between singular and plural pronouns is easy. You’re not likely to say

Gordon tried to pick up the ski poles, but it was too heavy.

because ski poles (plural) and it (singular) don’t match. Automatically you say

Gordon tried to pick up the ski poles, but they were too heavy.

Matching ski poles with they should please your ear.

If you’re learning English as a second language, your ear for the language is still in training. Put it on an exercise regimen of at least an hour a day of careful listening. A radio station or a television show in which reasonably educated people are speaking will help you to train your ear. You’ll soon become comfortable hearing and choosing the proper pronouns.

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