Pronouns are one of the basic parts of speech, along with nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. A pronoun is the part of speech that substitutes for nouns or noun phrases and designates persons or things asked for, previously specified, or understood from the context.
For example, consider the sentence "John gave the coat to Alice." All three nouns in the sentence can be replaced by pronouns to give: "He gave it to her." If the coat, Joan and Alice have been previously mentioned, the listener can deduce what the pronouns "he", "it" and "her" refer to and the understand the meaning of the sentence.
In the English language, which pronoun is used to replace a noun can depend on inflection, gender and number. For example, the speaker uses "I", "me", "myself" depending on the role he plays in the sentence; pronouns such as "he" and "she" depend on grammatical gender, and "I" and "we" depend on the number of people.
Other languages may use different distintions. Kinuvo, a language spoken in Tanzania uses grammatical gender to distinguish between humans, animals, body parts and so on. The English dialect spoken in Dorset also does this to a certian extent, using "ee" for animate beings and "er" for inanimate.
Cherokee has several pronouns corresponding to the English "we" to mean "you and I", "another person and I" and "several other people and I".
|Table of contents|
2 Personal pronouns in English
3 The Disjunctive pronoun
4 Pronouns not found in English
5 Table of correlatives
6 French language Pronouns
7 Pronouns for respect
Pronouns are unusual in English in that, unlike the nouns they replace, they are inflected, i.e. there are different versions of the word depending on the function it is serving in the sentence: so a speaker uses:
German is an example.
The remainder of this article explains the different kinds of pronoun in more detail.
A Personal pronoun refer to people or things. The English personal pronouns are:
First person is the speaker(s), Second is the person spoken to and third is someone else. Reflexive is when the doer of the action is the same as what the action was done to. Possessive pronouns are used to show ownership of something.
Personal pronouns in English
A Personal pronoun refer to people or things. The English personal pronouns are: First person is the speaker(s), Second is the person spoken to and third is someone else. Reflexive is when the doer of the action is the same as what the action was done to. Possessive pronouns are used to show ownership of something.
|2nd nom.||thou(1), you||you, ye, y'all(4), youse(4), you-uns(4), you-guys|
|3rd nom.||he, she, it, they(3)||they|
|2nd acc.||thee(1), you||you, ye(2)|
|3rd acc.||him, her, it, them(3)||them|
|2nd gen.||thy(1), your||your|
|3rd gen.||his, her, its, their(3)||their|
|2nd noun||thine(1), yours||yours|
|3rd noun||his, hers, its, theirs(3)||theirs|
|2nd refl.||thyself(1), yourself(5)||yourselves(6)|
|3rd refl.||himself, herself, itself, themself(3)||themselves|
Pronouns not found in English
Other languages may have more personal pronouns. Some languages have three different pronouns instead of "We": one meaning "Me and you", one meaning "Me and them" and one meaning "Me, you and them". Slavic languages have two different 3rd person Genitive pronouns (example from Serbian language:)
One of the most salient features of Indo-European languages is that pronouns are ambiguous. Is 'Who' relative or interrogative? Is it true that 'that' is a relative or demonstrative? Which kind is 'which?'
Most other language families don't have this ambiguity.
The French possessive pronouns (mon, ma, mes, ton, ta, tes, son, sa, ses, notre, notre, nos, votre, votre, vos, leur, leur, leurs) are technically adjectives because they decline into masculine, feminine and plural forms and further agree with their heads (not their antecedents).