Personal pronouns can be used to replace nouns acting as subjects, objects, or possessive markers in sentences.
For each of these uses, there is a different set of pronouns so students should be introduced to them separately. These are just some of the pronouns that students will encounter during their English studies however personal pronouns are also some of the most commonly used.
How to Proceed
Begin by talking about people so that students can provide some sample sentences to work with in the next section. You can ask questions as simple as “What’s your name?” to start off with. Write sentences you would like to use on the board. You can have students volunteer to answer questions, play a short game, or call on students for this section. Since the introduction may take some time and requires students to really focus, try to conduct an activity that gets them out of their chairs and moving around.
Introduce subjective pronouns I, you, he, she, it, we, you, and they. It is common to make two columns with three rows each so that the singular pronouns are on the left and the plural pronouns are on the right. He, she, and it are generally listed together. Maintaining this format when introducing other sets of pronouns will help students remember them. Once these are on the board do some choral repetition for pronunciation practice and write some sentences on the board. Be sure to have a sentence for each pronoun and ask students to tell you which word or words should be replaced. If students say that David should be replaced with the word she, you can give them another opportunity to provide the correct pronoun and then talk about why he is the correct replacement in this case.
Practice Personal Pronouns
Continue to conduct practice activities as a class until you think your students have a good understanding of these new words. You can have students form teams of about four for an activity where when you say a sentence, the first team to write the correct pronoun on the board gets a point. If you say “The dog likes walks.” students should write it on the board. It is a good idea to do activities like this so that as issues come up, you can address them rather than having to go back to clarify certain things after a lot of individual practice has been done. For speaking practice you can play Fruit Basket or simply have students do a short writing activity and then ask them to read aloud what they wrote.
You can introduce the objective pronouns me, you, him, her, it, us, you, and them as well as the possessive pronouns mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, yours, and theirs in much the same way you introduced the subjective pronouns above. Students should have an easier time understanding their meaning and memorizing them after having practiced using subjective pronouns. Introduce and practice these pronouns in separate classes until students have a firm grasp on the material.
Similar practice exercises to the one you used for subjective pronouns can also be used for objective and possessive pronouns. To keep students engaged and focused on the material, be sure to include some new activities as well. Fill in the blank and multiple choice exercises are both simple ways to check comprehension. Students could be asked to talk about something they own for writing and speaking practice using possessive pronouns. The prompt for the activity could be “This ~ is mine.” and you could require that students bring the item to class and write a certain number of sentences about it.
Once students have covered these three types of personal pronouns, you should do some activities which combine all three. Whether you choose to use worksheets or games to do this is up to you and depends on how well your class usually responds to certain types of exercises. A review class which combines everything they have learned about pronouns may be a challenge but it can also help you discover what students are struggling with and where their confusion lies. If necessary you can address these things in a later lesson.
Your students will study other types of pronouns during their English course but personal pronouns are especially important because they are used quite frequently. Students will have the opportunity to practice using personal pronouns often so there is no need to make a special effort to include them in future lessons.
Tara Arntsen has worked with English Language Learners of all ages for many years and has taught in Japan, Cambodia, and China as well as online. When she is not teaching, she enjoys cooking, traveling around the world, and scuba diving. She is a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Teaching-TESOL at the University of Southern California.
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I am a University grad but I still find it difficult to use all of the grammar terms.....Subjective.Objective/Possessive etc....but this article made it more understandable. I am presently teaching in China and they absolutely HATE Grammar because that is all they have studied for years. I hope that this will help.