Personal Pronouns - Number

Definition

Grammatical number in English simply means whether something or someone is singular or plural—that is, is there one of something or someone (singular), or are there more than one (plural)? This is answered by the pronoun’s antecedent (the word, phrase, clause, etc., that indicates what pronoun should be used, and in what form).
For nouns, we usually just add an “-s” to the end of the word to signify that it is plural (though there are many exceptions to this). Personal pronouns, however, have specific inflections (different forms of the word) depending on whether they are singular or plural. For the most part, only the first-person and third-person personal pronouns have plural forms. The only plural second-person pronoun is the reflexive pronoun yourselves.
For second-person pronouns that don’t inflect for number, you sometimes have to use information from another part of the sentence or paragraph to determine if it is plural or singular. (See the examples below.)
Unfortunately, there is no rule to how personal pronouns change when they become plural; you simply have to memorize them. Refer to the table in the chapter overview to learn them.

Examples:

  • I (first-person singular) am meeting my (first-person singular) writing club this afternoon. We (first-person plural)always meet on Wednesdays after class.”
  • I (first-person singular) really envy you (second-person singular)!”
  • They (third-person plural) can’t tell you (second-person plural) what it will be like; you (second-person plural) will just have to find out for yourselves (second-person plural reflexive).”
  • “Part of the reason why Martha is so great at basketball is because she (third-person feminine singular) is so tall.”
Quiz

1. Which personal pronouns can be inflected for number? (Choose the answer that is most correct.)






2. Which of the following sentences has at least one pronoun that is plural? (Choose the answer that is most correct.)





3. Which of the following is the plural form of the second-person reflexive pronoun?





4. What is the plural form of the first-person possessive pronoun mine?





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