First person pronouns are used to write a more informal piece, such as a story, essay or narrative, from the perspective of the person doing the writing, you. Many blogs are also written from the first person perspective. Singular first person nouns are “I,” “me,” “my,” “mine” and “we,” and first person plural pronouns are “our,” “ours,” “we” and “us.”
The first person pronouns “I” and “we” are known as subjective pronouns because they act as the subjects of the verb. Consider the following examples:
Example 1: I smiled at him (“I” is the subject of the verb “smiled”).
Example 2: We walked Emily home (“we” is the subject of the verb “walked”).
The personal pronouns “me” and “us” are objective pronouns because they act as the object of verbs and prepositions. Consider the following examples:
Example 1: She smiled at me (“me” is the object of the preposition “at”).
Example 2: Emily walked us home (“us” is the object of the verb “walked”).
“My,” “mine,” “our” and “ours” are possessive pronouns that are used to show ownership. They are usually followed by a noun, as shown by the below example.
Example: Our pay for writing assignments is fair and competitive (“our” shows ownership of “pay for writing assignments”).
When other people are mentioned in a sentence, the words “I” and “me” can cause confusion. The construction of the sentence dictates whether you should use “I” or “me.” An easy way to determine which pronoun to use is to leave out the other person in the sentence, and imagine yourself alone in the context of the sentence. Consider the following example:
Example: Andrew and (I/me) are going to the playground.
Remove the other person:
CORRECT: I am going to the playground.
INCORRECT: Me am going to the playground.
From this, you know “I” is the correct pronoun: Andrew and I are going to the playground.
The use of “I” is effective for writing introductions or sharing an interesting, personal incident. “I” is rarely used to begin a factual thesis or express an authoritative statement; it is most commonly used to express personal opinions and in more informal writing.
“We” and “us” are used as collective pronouns that include you as the writer and your readers. Exercise caution when using it in your writing. It is correct to use “we” when you are discussing a common purpose or creating a feeling of equality. On the other hand, it is best not to use it to assume that everyone shares the same opinion.
When confused about whether to use “we” or “us” in a sentence, break the sentence down to just the verb and the subject. Remember that “we” is a subjective pronoun, and “us” is an objective pronoun. If the pronoun is not the subject, use “us.” If the pronoun is the subject, use “we.” Consider the following examples:
Example 1: We/us freelance writers can earn a high income level if hard work is put into our writing (the subject is “we/us freelance writers,” and the verb is “earn”).
The pronoun is the subject, so you use the subjective pronoun of “we.”
Example 2: More work comes to we/us writers who write engaging content and proofread well (the subject is “work,” and the verb is “comes”).
The pronoun is not the subject, so you use the objective pronoun of “us.”