HOME

TheInfoList




The English personal pronouns are a subset of
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
pronouns In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is a word or a group of words that one may substitute for a noun or noun phrase. Pronouns have traditionally been regarded as one of the part of speech, parts o ...

pronouns
taking various forms according to
number A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduct ...
,
person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is ...
,
case Case or CASE may refer to: Containers * Case (goods) A case of some merchandise is a collection of items packaged together. A case is not a strict unit of measure. For consumer foodstuff such as canned goods, soft drink, soda, cereal, and such, ...
and
natural gender In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...
.
Modern English Modern English (sometimes New English or NE (ME) as opposed to Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th cen ...

Modern English
has very little
inflection In linguistic morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical ob ...
of
noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many l ...

noun
s or
adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
s, to the point where some authors describe it as an
analytic language In linguistic typology Linguistic typology (or language typology) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods fo ...
, but the Modern English system of personal
pronoun In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languag ...

pronoun
s has preserved some of the inflectional complexity of
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
and
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured sys ...
.


Forms

Unlike nouns, which are not inflected for
case Case or CASE may refer to: Containers * Case (goods) A case of some merchandise is a collection of items packaged together. A case is not a strict unit of measure. For consumer foodstuff such as canned goods, soft drink, soda, cereal, and such, ...
except for possession (''woman/woman's''), English personal pronouns have a number of forms, which are named according to their typical grammatical role in a sentence: * objective (accusative) case (''me'', ''us'', etc.), used as the
object Object may refer to: General meanings * Object (philosophy) An object is a philosophy, philosophical term often used in contrast to the term ''Subject (philosophy), subject''. A subject is an observer and an object is a thing observed. For mo ...
of a verb, complement of a
preposition Prepositions and postpositions, together called adpositions (or broadly, in English, simply prepositions), are a used to express spatial or temporal relations (''in'', ''under'', ''towards'', ''before'') or mark various (''of'', ''for''). A pre ...
, and the subject of a verb in some constructions (see below). The same forms are also used as
disjunctive pronoun A disjunctive pronoun is a stressed form of a personal pronoun Personal pronouns are pronoun In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, includ ...
s. * subjective (nominative) case (''I'', ''we'', etc.), used as the
subject Subject ( la, subiectus "lying beneath") may refer to: Philosophy *''Hypokeimenon ''Hypokeimenon'' (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the He ...
of a
verb A verb () is a word (part of speech) that in syntax conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), an occurrence (''happen'', ''become''), or a state of being (''be'', ''exist'', ''stand''). In the usual description of E ...
(see also below). * reflexive form (''myself'', ''ourselves'', etc.). This typically refers back to a noun or pronoun (its antecedent) within the same clause (for example, ''She cut herself''). This form is also sometimes used optionally in a non-reflexive function, as a substitute for a non-reflexive pronoun (for example, ''For someone like myself, . . .'', ''This article was written by Professor Smith and myself''), though some style guides recommend avoiding such use. The same reflexive forms also are used as
intensive pronoun In general linguistics, an intensive pronoun (or self-intensifier) is a form that adds emphasis to a statement; for example, "I did it ''myself''." While English intensive pronouns (e.g., ''myself'', ''yourself'', ''himself, herself'', ''ourselves'' ...
s (for example, ''She made the dress herself''). Possessive pronouns (''mine'', ''ours'', etc.) replace the entity that was referred to previously (as in ''I prefer mine'') or serve as
predicate adjective Predicate or predication may refer to: Computer science *Syntactic predicateA syntactic predicate specifies the syntactic validity of applying a Formal grammar#The syntax of grammars, production in a formal grammar and is analogous to a semantic ...
s (as in ''this book is mine''). For details see
English possessive In English, possessive A possessive or ktetic form ( abbreviated ; from la, possessivus; grc, κτητικός ''ktētikós'') is a word or grammatical construction used to indicate a relationship of possession in a broad sense. This can inclu ...
. As they are pronouns they cannot precede any noun.


Basic

The basic
personal pronoun Personal pronouns are pronoun In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign la ...
s of modern English are shown in the table below. Other English pronouns which have distinct forms of the above types are the indefinite pronoun ''
one 1 (one, also called unit, and unity) is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can ...
'', which has the reflexive ''oneself'' (the possessive form is written ''one's'', like a regular
English possessive In English, possessive A possessive or ktetic form ( abbreviated ; from la, possessivus; grc, κτητικός ''ktētikós'') is a word or grammatical construction used to indicate a relationship of possession in a broad sense. This can inclu ...
); and the interrogative and relative pronoun ''
who The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations and each other through the co-ordinating machinery of the Unit ...
'', which has the objective form ''whom'' (now confined mostly to formal English) and the possessive ''whose'' (which in its relative use can also serve as the possessive for ''which''). Note that
singular they Singular ''they'' is the use in English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eve ...
is morphosyntactically plural: it is used with a plural verb form, as in "they laugh" or "they are". See the singular they section for more information.


Archaic and non-standard

Apart from the standard forms given above, English also has a number of non-standard, informal and
archaic Archaic is a period of time preceding a designated classical period, or something from an older period of time that is also not found or used currently: *List of archaeological periods **Archaic Sumerian language, spoken between 31st - 26th centu ...
forms of personal pronouns. * An archaic set of second-person singular pronouns is ''thou, thee, thy, thine, thyself''. In Anglo-Saxon times, these were strictly second person singular. After the Norman Conquest in 1066, they began to be used as a familiar form, like French ''tu'' and German ''du''. They passed out of general use between 1600 and 1800, although they (or variants of them) survive in some English and Scottish dialects and in some
Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koi ...

Christian
religious communities, and in many idioms. For details see ''
thou The word ''thou'' is a second-person singular Singular may refer to: * Singular, the grammatical number In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and verb agreement (linguistics), agreemen ...
''. * In archaic language, ''mine'' and ''thine'' may be used in place of ''my'' and ''thy'' when followed by a vowel sound. * For the use of ''me'' instead of ''I'', see I (pronoun)#Alternative use of nominative and accusative * An archaic form of plural ''you'' as a subject pronoun is ''ye''. Some dialects now use ''ye'' in place of ''you'', or as an apocopated or
clitic In morphology and syntax In linguistics, syntax () is the set of rules, principles, and processes that govern the structure of Sentence (linguistics), sentences (sentence structure) in a given Natural language, language, usually including word ...
form of ''you''. See ''ye'' (pronoun). * A non-standard variant of ''my'' (particularly in British dialects) is ''me''. (This may have its origins in the fact that in
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured sys ...
''my'' before a consonant was pronounced [mi:], like modern English ''me'', (while ''me'' was [me:], similar to modern ''may'') and this was shortened to [mi] or [mɪ], as the pronouns ''he'' and ''we'' are nowadays; [hi wɒz] ''he was''; versus [ɪt wɒz hi:] ''it was he''. As this vowel was short, it was not subject to the Great Vowel Shift, and so emerged in modern English unchanged.) * Informal second-person plural forms (particularly in North American dialects) include ''you all'', ''y'all'', ''youse''. Other variants include: ''yous'', ''you/youse guys'', ''you/youse gals'', ''you-uns'', ''yis'', ''yinz''. Possessives may include ''you(r) guys's'', ''you(r) gals's'', ''yous's'', ''y'all's'' (or ''y'alls''). Reflexives may be formed by adding ''selves'' after any of the possessive forms. See ''y'all'', ''yinz'', ''yous''. ''Yous'' is common in Scotland, particularly in the Central Belt area (though in some parts of the country and in parts of Ireland, ''ye'' is used for the plural ''you''). * In informal speech ''them'' is often replaced by em'', believed to be a survival of the late Old English form ''heom'', which appears as ''hem'' in Chaucer, losing its aspirated consonant, aspiration due to being used as an unstressed form. (The forms ''they'', ''them'' etc. are of Scandinavian origin.) * Non-standard reflexive forms ''ourself'' and ''themself'' are sometimes used in contexts where ''we'' and ''they'' are used with singular meaning (see ''we'' and Singular they, singular ''they''). * Non-standard reflexive forms ''hisself'' and ''theirselves/theirself'' are sometimes used (though would be considered incorrect in standard English). * In some parts of England, the pronoun "hoo" is used as a third person singular pronoun. The exact usage varies by location, as it can refer to a male creature, female creature, or be used as a genderless pronoun depending on where in England it is used.


Complete table

A more complete table, including the standard forms and some of the above forms, is given below. Nonstandard, informal and archaic forms are in ''italics''. *In religious usage, the pronouns He/She/You, Him/Her/You, His/Her/Your, and Himself/Herself/Yourself are often capitalized when referring to a deity. For further archaic forms, and information on the evolution of the personal pronouns of English, see Old English pronouns.


Generic ''you''

The pronoun ''you'' (and its other forms) can be used as a generic or indefinite pronoun, referring to a person in general. A more formal equivalent is the indefinite pronoun ''one'' (reflexive ''oneself'', possessive ''one's''). For example, ''you should keep your secrets to yourself'' may be used in place of the more formal ''one should keep one's secrets to oneself''.


Use of ''he'', ''she'' and ''it''

The masculine pronouns, ''he'', ''him'', and ''his'' are used to refer to male persons. The feminine pronouns ''she'', ''her'', and ''hers'' are used to refer to female persons. ''It'' and ''its'' are normally used to refer to an inanimate object or abstract concept; however, babies and young children may sometimes be referred to as ''it'' (e.g. ''a child needs its mother''). Outside of these very limited contexts, use of ''it'' as a pronoun for people is generally avoided, due to the feeling that it is dehumanizing. Traditionally, in English, if the gender of a person was not known or ambiguous, then the masculine pronouns were often used by default (e.g. ''a good student always does his homework''). Increasingly, though, singular ''they'' is used in such cases (#Singular they, see below). Animals are often referred to as ''it'', but ''he'' and ''she'' are sometimes used for animals when the animal's sex is known and is of interest, particularly for higher animals, especially pets and other domesticated animals. Inanimate objects with which humans have a close relationship, such as ships, cars and countries considered as political, rather than geographical, entities, are sometimes referred to using feminine pronouns such as ''she'' and ''her''. This may also be extended to other entities, such as towns.


Singular ''they''

The singular ''they'' emerged by the 14th century, about a century after the plural ''they''. Even when used with singular meaning, ''they'' takes a plural verb: ''If attacked, the victim should remain exactly where they are.'' Due to this supposed grammatical inconsistency, use of singular ''they'' was discouraged by some grammarians during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in favor of using Gender-specific and gender-neutral pronouns#Generic he, generic ''he''. Since the 1970s, however, this trend has reversed, and singular ''they'' now enjoys widespread acceptance. In the early 21st century, use of singular ''they'' with known individuals emerged for some non-binary people, or when the sex or social gender of a person is unknown or unspecified. This is a way of producing gender-neutral language while avoiding other pronouns like ''he or she'', ''he/she'', or ''s/he''.


Case usage

As noted above, most of the personal pronouns have distinct case forms – a subjective (nominative) form and an objective (oblique, accusative) form. In certain instances variation arises in the use of these forms. As a general rule, the subjective form is used when the pronoun is the subject (grammar), subject of a verb, as in ''he kicked the ball'', whereas the objective form is used as the direct or indirect object (grammar), object of a verb, or the object (complement) of a
preposition Prepositions and postpositions, together called adpositions (or broadly, in English, simply prepositions), are a used to express spatial or temporal relations (''in'', ''under'', ''towards'', ''before'') or mark various (''of'', ''for''). A pre ...
. For example: ''Sue kicked him'', ''someone gave him the ball'', ''Mary was with him''. When used as a predicative expression, i.e. as the complement of a form of the copula (linguistics), copula verb ''be'', the subjective form was traditionally regarded as more correct (as in ''this is I'', ''it was he''), but nowadays the objective form is used predominantly (''this is me'', ''it was him''), and the use of the subjective in such instances is normally regarded as very formal or pedantic; it is more likely (in formal English) when followed by a relative clause (''it is we who sent them to die''). In some cases the subjective may even appear ungrammatical, as in *''is that we in the photograph?'' (where ''us'' would be expected). When a pronoun is linked to other nouns or pronouns by a coordinating conjunction such as ''and'' or ''or'', traditional grammar prescribes that the pronoun should appear in the same form as it would take if it were used alone in the same position: ''Jay and I will arrive later'' (since ''I'' is used for the subject of a verb), but ''between you and me'' (since ''me'' is used for the object of a preposition). However, in informal and less careful usage this rule may not be consistently followed; it is common to hear ''Jay and me will arrive...'' and ''between you and I''. The latter type (use of the subjective form in object position) is seen as an example of hypercorrection, resulting from an awareness that many instances of ''and me'' (like that in the first example) are considered to require correction to ''and I''. Similar deviations from the grammatical norm are quite common in other examples where the pronoun does not stand alone as the subject or object, as in ''Who said us Yorkshiremen'' [grammatical: ''we Yorkshiremen''] ''are tight?'' When a pronoun stands alone without an explicit verb or preposition, the objective form is commonly used, even when traditional grammarians might prefer the subjective: ''Who's sitting here? Me.'' (Here ''I'' might be regarded as grammatically correct, since it is short for ''I am (sitting here)'', but it would sound formal and pedantic, unless followed by ''am''.) A particular case of this type occurs when a pronoun stands alone following the word ''than''. Here the objective form is again predominant in informal usage (''they are older than us''), as would be expected if ''than'' were analyzed as a preposition. However traditionally ''than'' is considered a conjunction (grammar), conjunction, and so in formal and grammatically careful English the pronoun often takes the form that would appear if ''than'' were followed by a clause: ''they are older than we'' (by analogy with ''...than we are''), but ''she likes him better than me'' (if the intended meaning is "...than she likes me"). For more examples of some of these points, see Disjunctive pronoun.


See also

* Generic antecedents * Gender-specific and gender-neutral pronouns *Inanimate whose * One (pronoun) *Who (pronoun) * Reverential capitalization * wikt:Appendix:English personal pronouns, Wiktionary table of personal pronouns * wikt:English_pronouns, Wiktionary list of English pronouns (comprehensive)


Notes


References


Further reading

* * {{DEFAULTSORT:English Personal Pronouns English personal pronouns, Modern English personal pronouns, Personal pronouns Pronouns by language, English English grammar