) - He This article is about the English personal pronoun. For other uses, see He (disambiguation).
He (/ˈhiː/, unstressed /i/) is a masculine third-person, singular personal pronoun (subjective case) in Modern English, as well as being a personal pronoun in Middle English.
Personal pronouns in standard Modern English
Subject Object Possessive determiner Possessive pronoun Reflexive Subject Object Possessive determiner Possessive pronoun Reflexive
|I ||me ||my ||mine ||myself ||we ||us ||our ||ours ||ourselves |
|you ||your ||yours ||yourself ||you ||your ||yours ||yourselves |
|he ||him ||his ||himself ||they ||them ||their ||theirs ||themselves |
|she ||her ||hers ||herself |
|it ||its ||itself |
|they ||them ||their ||theirs ||themself (themselves) |
- 1 Usage
- 1.1 People
- 1.2 Animals
- 1.3 Gender neutral
- 1.4 Other
- 2 Gender
- 3 Etymology
- 3.1 Indo-European
- 3.2 Germanic
- 3.3 Old English
- 3.4 Middle English
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
"He" can be used as a substitution of a male''s name.
"He" and "she" are often used to refer to domesticated animals and sometimes non-domesticated animals of the respective sex.
Gender neutral See also: Gender-neutral_pronoun § English
A study has shown that "there was a rather extended period of time in the history of the English language when the choice of a supposedly masculine personal pronoun (him) said nothing about the gender or sex of the referent."
The use of "he" to refer to a person of unknown gender was often prescribed by manuals of style and school textbooks from the early 18th century until around the 1960s, an early example of which is Anne Fisher''s 1745 grammar book "A New Grammar".
- A good student always does his homework.
- If someone asks you for help, give it to him.
- When a customer argues, always agree with him.
This may be compared to usage of the word man to humans in general.
- "All men are created equal."
- "That''s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."
- "Man cannot live by bread alone."
Gender-specific pronouns were also prescribed when one might presume that most members of some group are the same gender (although in recent times, such presumptions are sometimes seen as offensive).
- A secretary should keep her temper in check.
- A janitor should respect his employers.
- Every plumber has his own tools.
- A nurse should always be kind to her patients.
The pronoun He, with a universally capitalized H, is often used to refer to the Supreme Being, or in Christian contexts, to Jesus Christ; "It", with a capitalized I, is also used when speaking of the Supreme Being''s nature or Godhead, or in Christian contexts, to refer to the Logos; capitalized "He" and "It" have both been used to refer to the Holy Spirit. In Catholic Christian circles, the Blessed Sacrament is also referred to with the capitalized pronoun "It".
Gender Main article: Gender in English
The gender system in Modern English is generally natural, semantic and logical; however it is most similar to languages whose gender systems primarily distinguish between the animate and inanimate, and between the personal and impersonal. In the table RP stands for relative pronoun and PP for personal pronoun.
Gender classes in Modern English
| ||Gender Class ||Example ||RP ||PP |
|animate ||personal ||1. male ||brother ||who ||he |
|2. female ||sister ||who ||she |
|3. dual ||doctor ||who ||he/she, he, they |
|generic ||4. common ||baby ||who which ||he/she/it it |
|5. collective ||family ||which who ||it they |
|impersonal ||6. higher male animal ||bull ||which (who) ||he/it he |
|7. higher female animal ||cow ||which (who) ||she/it she |
|8. lower animal ||ant ||which ||it (he/she) |
|inanimate ||9. inanimate ||carbon rod ||which ||it |
Notes: RP is relative pronoun and PP personal pronoun. Alternatives are presented in three ways: slash (/) — used equally; above & below — first preferred; parentheses "()" — disputed or unusual usage.
The reconstructed Indo-European language provides a demonstrative pronoun ko.
English is a development of the West Germanic language family.
Old English pronouns
Nominative IPA Accusative Dative Genitive
|iċ || ||mec / mē ||mē ||mīn |
|wit || ||uncit ||unc ||uncer |
|wē || ||ūsic ||ūs ||ūser / ūre |
|þū || ||þec / þē ||þē ||þīn |
|ġit || ||incit ||inc ||incer |
|ġē || ||ēowic ||ēow ||ēower |
3rd Singular Masculine
|hē || ||hine ||him ||his |
|hit || ||hit ||him ||his |
|hēo || ||hīe ||hiere ||hiere |
|hīe || ||hīe ||heom ||heora |
Speakers of Old English (OE) considered each noun to have a grammatical gender — masculine, feminine or neuter. Pronouns were generally (but not always) selected to have the same grammatical gender as the noun they referred to. For example, dæg ''day'') was masculine, so a masculine pronoun was used when referring to a day or days. The pronoun "he" was written he, as in Present-Day English (PrDE), but pronounced hē , rather like PrDE hay.
Personal pronouns in Middle English
Nominative Oblique Genitive Nominative Oblique Genitive
|ik / ich / I ||me ||my(n) ||we ||us ||oure |
|þou / thou ||þee / thee ||þy(n) / thy(n) ||ȝe / ye ||ȝow / you ||ȝower / your |
|hit ||hit / him ||his ||he þei / they ||hem þem / them ||her þeir / their |
|he ||him ||his |
|ȝho / scho / sche ||hire ||hire |
There was one change to the inflection of the masculine pronoun in Middle English. The OE dative form him replaced the OE accusative hine . This meant that, in Middle English, there was no distinction between masculine and impersonal, except in the subject case of the third-person singular, until it from hit replaced him in the object case of the impersonal. Some people believe "there was rather an extended period of time in the history of the English language when the choice of a supposedly masculine personal pronoun (him) said nothing about the gender or sex of the referent."
- English personal pronouns
- Gender-specific pronoun
- Generic antecedents