Grammatical person

grammatical category

In grammar, a person is the way of referring to someone taking part in an event, such as the person talking, the person being talked to, the person being talked about. Grammatical persons are accomplished by pronouns, words used to take the place of a noun, in order to make speech easier.

The first person is the speaker referring to himself or herself. The second person is the person whom someone is speaking to or writing to.

Persons change

Pronoun Person/plurality Gender
I First person singular (This comes from the person speaking) -
We First person plural (This comes from a person part of a group) -
You Second person singular or plural (This comes from a person talking directly to someone.) -
He Third person masculine singular / third person gender-neutral singular masculine (only for men or boys)
She Third person feminine singular feminine (only for women or girls)
It Third person neutral singular (This comes from a person talking about something that has no gender) -
They Third person plural / third person gender-neutral singular (the singular usage is commonly accepted) -

Effect on nouns change

Very few nouns are second-person nouns because people do not usually talk directly to things like tables. In fact, in English, just about the only kind of nouns that are second-person is a small group of pronouns that can be seen in the table below.

English Personal pronouns
Person Singular Plural
Subject Object Possessive Subject Object Possessive
First I me mine we us ours
Second you you yours you you yours
Third Female she her hers they them theirs
Male he him his
No gender it it its

Sometimes, a person's name is used in the second person, but that's usually just with a baby. For example, instead of saying "you sit here", one could say "Charlie sits here".

Effect on verbs change

In English grammar, people do not usually have to do anything special to the verb if they use a second-person noun as a subject. In fact, the verb be is the only verb that has a special form for the second person: are. In other languages such as French though, verbs change in different ways to match the subject. In this table, tu and vous are the second-person pronouns. We can see how the verb parler (talk) changes when people use them.

Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Simple Future Present Imperfect Present Present
je parle parlai parlais parlerai parle parlasse parlerais
tu parles parlas parlais parleras parles parlasses parlerais parle
il parle parla parlait parlera parle parlât parlerait
nous parlons parlâmes parlions parlerons parlions parlassions parlerions parlons
vous parlez parlâtes parliez parlerez parliez parlassiez parleriez parlez
ils parlent parlèrent parlaient parleront parlent parlassent parleraient