Third-person singular English grammar
The pronouns – he, she, it + any name, position or relation that describes one single person or thing is a third-person singular subject.
|Examples of third-person singular subjects|
|He studies English.|
|Ken studies English.|
|Ken’s boss studies English.|
|My sister studies English.|
I was working on a verb grammar course last week. While I was writing the lessons I was explaining that third-person singular subjects will add S or ES to the end of the verb describing their action.
I thought it would be helpful to explain what we mean in English grammar by Third Person Singular. So I made this English grammar blog post to answer the question…
What is the Third-Person Singular?
Third is an ordinal number in English. Ordinal numbers show the position of something that is part of a group of things. Most ordinal numbers are just regular numbers with the letters TH added to the end. Seventh, fifteenth. Twenty-fourth, etc.
With a few exceptions, five becomes fifth, and the number nine drops the e to become ninth. (You can find more spelling changes on the ordinal number chart at the end of this post.)
One, two, and three become the ordinal numbers 1st (first), 2nd (second), and 3rd (third).
You have probably heard these kinds of numbers before.
Finishing positions in a race or contest use these numbers.
The floors of a building also use these numbers.
And of course, we use them with the days of the month.
What about English grammar?
Here is an easy way to think about
Third-person English grammar
Use first-person grammar if you are talking about yourself.
“I have a new computer.”
Use second person grammar for the person or people you are talking to.
“Are you okay? You look tired.”
We use third-person grammar for the people or things we are talking about. They are not usually part of the conversation.
“Is Peter here? He is not at his desk.”
The examples you just read were all singular pronouns. (I, you, he)
First, Second, and Third-person pronouns
First-person uses the pronouns
Second-person uses the pronoun
You [Remember the pronoun you can refer to one person or more than one person]
Third-person uses the pronouns
Third-person singular does not include plural subjects
You can see that singular means one. We use the adjective singular to describe nouns that refer to only one thing.
Person is a singular noun
Dog is a singular noun
Countable nouns have a plural form.
People is a plural noun
Dogs is a plural noun
As you saw in the chart above I, we, you, he, she, it, and they are pronouns. Some are used to talk about one thing, and some are used to talk about more than one thing.
1st, 2nd, and 3rd person singular are talking about only 1 person or thing, so it doesn’t include the plural pronouns WE, THEY, or the plural form of YOU.
Third-person singular is the pronouns – he, she, it + any name, position or relation that describes one single person or thing
Third-person singular examples
He studies English
Ken studies English.
Ken’s boss studies English.
My sister studies English.
She plays the piano.
Kim plays the piano.
My classmate plays the piano.
His uncle plays the piano.
These subjects are all talking about a single person, remember that third person talks about someone who is usually not part of the conversation.
The grammar is called 3rd person singular, but it is not only used with people. It can also be used with other singular things like animals or objects.
Craig’s phone works underwater.
My dog likes to play catch.
It rains a lot in April.
*We use the third-person singular pronoun it when we talk about the weather.
It‘s sunny today.
As I mentioned above Third-person singular English grammar is especially important for using verbs correctly. You can read my Simple present tense verbs at this link.
I want to end this post with some simple FIRST, SECOND, and THIRD-person examples to help you understand this grammar. These examples will use both singular and plural versions.
Other pronoun examples
I have a pick-up truck.
We are hungry after rugby practice.
You can borrow my truck if you want.
You must be hungry after Rugby practice. (Talking to more than one person.)
He eats the same breakfast every day. Oatmeal and orange juice.
They look hungry. I’d better start the barbeque now.
Other first, second, and third person plural examples
My friends and I like to play video games online. [First person plural]
You and your brother go to the same school as my cousin. [Second person plural]
Keith and his wife are coming over for dinner tonight. [Third person plural]
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Watch the video below. Use it to improve your English listening and pronunciation skills. It’s a great way to review the lesson too.
Ordinal number list
Below is list of cardinal and ordinal numbers. (Cardinal numbers are regular numbers that we use for counting.)
Cardinal [left column] Ordinal [right column]
Thanks to MathIsFun.com for this great chart.
Also thank you to Grammarly.com for the helpful explanations.