What Is Grammar Rule 123?

Have you heard about grammar rule 123? Sometimes, I’ve seen people refer to it when discussing points of view, but this rule is really about pronouns.

In English, the order in which we place pronouns—words like “he,” “she,” “they,” and “we”—can affect the clarity and politeness of our sentences. Generally, when referring to yourself and someone else, it’s polite to mention the other person first. But what if you’re talking about something negative? This is where grammar rule 123 comes into play so that it doesn’t seem like you’re placing blame on someone else by mentioning them first.

What Is Rule 123 in Writing or Speech?

The 123 rule is a grammatical guideline that dictates the order of pronouns when confessing a fault or expressing a negative idea. The rule states that pronouns should be ordered as first person (I), second person (you), then third person (he/she/they).

This order is not just about following grammar rules; it’s about taking responsibility and showing respect in communication.

Why Pronoun Order Matters

Using the rule of 123 helps structure sentences so the speaker can acknowledge personal responsibility right away. This rule is particularly important in formal writing and speech, where the clarity of who is responsible or at fault needs to be unmistakably clear.

Examples of the Pronoun Rule 123

To better understand how to implement Rule 123, let’s look at some practical examples:

  • Incorrect: “You, he and I need to apologize for the misunderstanding.”
  • Correct: “I, you, and he need to apologize for the misunderstanding.”

In this example, the correct sentence starts with “I,” showing that the speaker takes primary responsibility before including others in the statement.

  • Incorrect: “You and she must rectify these errors.”
  • Correct: “We and you must rectify these errors.”

This correct sentence includes “we” to make it clear that the person speaking is also part of what went wrong. This approach is a nicer way to talk about mistakes when more than one person is involved.

A toolkit showing grammar tools

Take Accountability With Grammar Rule 123

The Rule of 123 is a valuable tool in your grammar toolkit, especially when dealing with negative situations where taking accountability is important. By organizing pronouns in the order of “I, you, and he/she/they,” you can better ensure that your communications are grammatically sound and respectful toward others. Check out our other Grammar Tips to learn more about how you can be a better writer.

Cara Secrist
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