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In
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and structure. Linguis ...
and
grammar In linguistics, the grammar of a natural language is its set of structure, structural constraints on speakers' or writers' composition of clause (linguistics), clauses, phrases, and words. The term can also refer to the study of such constraint ...
, a pronoun (
abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for example, the word ''abbrevia ...
) is a word or a group of words that one may substitute for a
noun A noun () is a word that generally functions as the name of a specific object or set of objects, such as living creatures, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas.Example nouns for: * Organism, Living creatures (including people ...

noun
or
noun phrase In linguistics, a noun phrase, or nominal (phrase), is a phrase that has a noun or pronoun as its head (linguistics), head or performs the same Grammar, grammatical function as a noun. Noun phrases are very common linguistic typology, cross-lingui ...
. Pronouns have traditionally been regarded as one of the
parts of speech In grammar, a part of speech or part-of-speech (Abbreviation, abbreviated as POS or PoS, also known as word class or grammatical category) is a category of words (or, more generally, of lexical items) that have similar grammar, grammatical properti ...
, but some modern theorists would not consider them to form a single class, in view of the variety of functions they perform cross-linguistically. An example of a pronoun is "you", which can be either singular or plural. Subtypes include personal and
possessive pronoun A possessive or ktetic form (Glossing abbreviation, abbreviated or ; from la, possessivus; grc, κτητικός, translit=ktētikós) is a word or grammatical construction used to indicate a relationship of possession (linguistics), possessio ...
s, reflexive and
reciprocal Reciprocal may refer to: In mathematics * Multiplicative inverse In mathematics, a multiplicative inverse or reciprocal for a number ''x'', denoted by 1/''x'' or ''x''−1, is a number which when Multiplication, multiplied by ''x'' yield ...
pronouns,
demonstrative pronoun Demonstratives (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) are words, such as ''this'' and ''that'', used to indicate which entities are being referred to and to distinguish those entities from others. They are typically deictic; their meaning ...
s, relative and
interrogative pronoun An interrogative word or question word is a function word used to ask a question, such as ''what, which'', ''when'', ''where'', ''who (pronoun), who, whom, whose'', ''why'', ''whether'' and ''how''. They are sometimes called wh-words, because in ...
s, and
indefinite pronoun An indefinite pronoun is a pronoun which does not have a specific familiar referent. Indefinite pronouns are in contrast to definiteness, definite pronouns. Indefinite pronouns can represent either count nouns or noncount nouns. They often have ...
s. The use of pronouns often involves anaphora, where the meaning of the pronoun is dependent on an antecedent. For example, in the sentence ''That poor man looks as if he needs a new coat'', the meaning of the pronoun ''he'' is dependent on its antecedent, ''that poor man''. The name of the
adjective An adjective (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is a word that describes a noun or noun phrase. Its semantic role is to change information given by the noun. Traditionally, adjectives were considered one of the main part of speech, par ...
that belongs with a "pronoun" is called a "pronominal". A pronominal is also a word or phrase that acts as a pronoun. For example, in ''That's not the one I wanted'', the phrase ''the one'' (containing the
prop-word A prop-word is a word with little or no semantic Semantics (from grc, wikt:σημαντικός, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of reference, Meaning (philosophy), meaning, or truth. The term can be used ...
''one'') is a pronominal.


Theory


Pronoun versus pro-form

Pronoun is a category of words. A
pro-form In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and ...
is a type of
function word In linguistics, function words (also called functors) are words that have little Lexical (semiotics), lexical Meaning (linguistic), meaning or have ambiguous meaning and express grammar, grammatical relationships among other words within a Sentence ...
or expression that stands in for (expresses the same content as) another
word A word is a basic element of language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabulary. Languages are the primary means by which humans communicate, ...

word
,
phrase In syntax and grammar, a phrase is a group of words or singular word acting as a grammatical unit. For instance, the English language, English expression "the very happy squirrel" is a noun phrase which contains the adjective phrase "very happy". ...

phrase
,
clause In language, a clause is a Constituent (linguistics), constituent that comprises a semantic predicand (expressed or not) and a semantic Predicate (grammar), predicate. A typical clause consists of a subject (grammar), subject and a syntactic Pred ...
or sentence where the meaning is recoverable from the context. In English, pronouns mostly function as pro-forms, but there are pronouns that are not pro-forms and pro-forms that are not pronouns. . 239/sup> Examples & 2are pronouns and pro-forms. In the pronoun '' it'' "stands in" for whatever was mentioned and is a good idea. In the
relative pronoun A relative pronoun is a pronoun that marks a relative clause. It serves the purpose of conjoining modifying information about an antecedent referent. An example is the word ''which'' in the sentence "This is the house which Jack built." Here the r ...
'' who'' stands in for "the people". Examples & 4are pronouns but not pro-forms. In the
interrogative pronoun An interrogative word or question word is a function word used to ask a question, such as ''what, which'', ''when'', ''where'', ''who (pronoun), who, whom, whose'', ''why'', ''whether'' and ''how''. They are sometimes called wh-words, because in ...
''who'' does not stand in for anything. Similarly, in ''it'' is a
dummy pronoun A dummy pronoun is a Deixis, deictic pronoun that fulfills a syntax, syntactical requirement without providing a contextually explicit meaning (linguistics), meaning of its referent. As such, it is an example of exophora. Dummy pronouns are used ...
, one that does not stand in for anything. No other word can function there with the same meaning; we do not say "the sky is raining" or "the weather is raining". Finally, in & 6 there are pro-forms that are not pronouns. In ''did so'' is a
verb phrase In linguistics, a verb phrase (VP) is a syntax, syntactic unit composed of a verb and its argument (linguistics), arguments except the subject (grammar), subject of an independent clause or coordinate clause. Thus, in the sentence ''A fat man quic ...
that stands in for "helped", inflected from ''to help'' stated earlier in the sentence. Similarly, in ''others'' is a common noun, not a pronoun, but ''the others'' probably stands in for the names of other people involved (e.g., ''Sho, Alana, and Ali''), all
proper nouns A proper noun is a noun that identifies a single entity and is used to refer to that entity (''Africa'', ''Jupiter'', ''Sarah (given name), Sarah'', ''Microsoft)'' as distinguished from a common noun, which is a noun that refers to a Class (philo ...
.


Grammar

Pronouns () are listed as one of eight parts of speech in '' The Art of Grammar'', a treatise on Greek grammar attributed to
Dionysius Thrax Dionysius Thrax ( grc-gre, Διονύσιος ὁ Θρᾷξ ''Dionýsios ho Thrâix'', 170–90 BC) was a Ancient Greece, Greek Grammarian (Greco-Roman), grammarian and a pupil of Aristarchus of Samothrace. He was long considered to be the author o ...
and dating from the 2nd century BC. The pronoun is described there as "a part of speech substitutable for a noun and marked for a person." Pronouns continued to be regarded as a part of speech in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
grammar (the Latin term being , from which the English name – through
Middle French Middle French (french: moyen français) is a historical division of the French language that covers the period from the 14th to the 16th century. It is a period of transition during which: * the French language became clearly distinguished from t ...
– ultimately derives), and thus in the European tradition generally. Because of the many different syntactic roles that they play, pronouns are less likely to be a single
word class In grammar, a part of speech or part-of-speech (Abbreviation, abbreviated as POS or PoS, also known as word class or grammatical category) is a category of words (or, more generally, of lexical items) that have similar grammar, grammatical properti ...
in more modern approaches to grammar.


Linguistics

Linguists in particular have trouble classifying pronouns in a single category, and some do not agree that pronouns substitute nouns or noun categories. Certain types of pronouns are often identical or similar in form to
determiner A determiner, also called determinative (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ), is a word, phrase, or affix that occurs together with a noun or noun phrase and generally serves to express the reference of that noun or noun phrase in the ...
s with related meaning; some English examples are given in the table. This observation has led some linguists, such as
Paul Postal Paul Martin Postal (born November 10, 1936 in Weehawken Weehawken is a Township (New Jersey), township in the North Hudson, New Jersey, northern part of Hudson County, New Jersey, Hudson County, in the U.S. state of New Jersey. It is located la ...
, to regard pronouns as determiners that have had their following noun or noun phrase deleted. (Such patterning can even be claimed for certain personal pronouns; for example, ''we'' and ''you'' might be analyzed as determiners in phrases like ''we Brits'' and ''you tennis players''.) Other linguists have taken a similar view, uniting pronouns and determiners into a single class, sometimes called "determiner-pronoun", or regarding determiners as a subclass of pronouns or vice versa. The distinction may be considered to be one of
subcategorization In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and ...
or valency, rather like the distinction between transitive and intransitive verbs – determiners take a noun phrase
complement A complement is something that completes something else. Complement may refer specifically to: The arts * Complement (music), an interval that, when added to another, spans an octave ** Complement (music)#Aggregate complementation, Aggregate c ...
like transitive verbs do, while pronouns do not. This is consistent with the
determiner phrase In linguistics, a determiner phrase (DP) is a type of phrase headed by a determiner such as ''many''. Controversially, many approaches, take a phrase like ''not very many apples'' to be a DP, headed, in this case, by the determiner ''many''. This is ...
viewpoint, whereby a determiner, rather than the noun that follows it, is taken to be the
head A head is the part of an organism which usually includes the ears, brain, forehead, cheeks, chin, eyes, nose, and mouth, each of which aid in various sensory functions such as visual perception, sight, hearing, olfaction, smell, and taste. Some ...
of the phrase. Cross-linguistically, it seems as though pronouns share 3 distinct categories: point of view, person, and number. The breadth of each subcategory however tends to differ among languages.


Binding theory and antecedents

The use of pronouns often involves anaphora, where the meaning of the pronoun is dependent on another referential element. The
referent A referent () is a person or thing to which a name – a linguistics, linguistic Phrase, expression or other symbol – reference, refers. For example, in the sentence ''Mary saw me'', the referent of the word ''Mary'' is the particular person call ...
of the pronoun is often the same as that of a preceding (or sometimes following) noun phrase, called the antecedent of the pronoun. The grammatical behavior of certain types of pronouns, and in particular their possible relationship with their antecedents, has been the focus of studies in binding, notably in the Chomskyan
government and binding theory A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature A legislature is an deliberative as ...
. In this binding context, reflexive and reciprocal pronouns in English (such as ''himself'' and ''each other'') are referred to as anaphors (in a specialized restricted sense) rather than as pronominal elements. Under binding theory, specific principles apply to different sets of pronouns. In English, reflexive and reciprocal pronouns must adhere to Principle A: an anaphor (reflexive or reciprocal, such as "each other") must be bound in its governing category (roughly, the clause). Therefore, in syntactic structure it must be lower in structure (it must have an antecedent) and have a direct relationship with its referent. This is called a
C-command In generative grammar Generative grammar, or generativism , is a Theoretical linguistics, linguistic theory that regards linguistics as the study of a hypothesised linguistic nativism, innate grammatical structure. It is a Biology, biological ...
relationship. For instance, we see that ''John cut himself'' is grammatical, but ''Himself cut John'' is not, despite having identical arguments, since ''himself'', the reflexive, must be lower in structure to John, its referent. Additionally, we see examples like ''John said that Mary cut himself'' are not grammatical because there is an intermediary noun, ''Mary'', that disallows the two referents from having a direct relationship. On the other hand, personal pronouns (such as ''him'' or ''them'') must adhere to Principle B: a pronoun must be free (i.e., not bound) within its governing category (roughly, the clause). This means that although the pronouns can have a referent, they cannot have a direct relationship with the referent where the referent selects the pronoun. For instance, ''John said Mary cut him'' is grammatical because the two co-referents, ''John'' and ''him'' are separated structurally by ''Mary''. This is why a sentence like ''John cut him'' where ''him'' refers to ''John'' is ungrammatical.


= Binding cross-linguistically

= The type of binding that applies to subsets of pronouns varies cross-linguistically. For instance, in German linguistics, pronouns can be split into two distinct categories — personal pronouns and d-pronouns. Although personal pronouns act identically to English personal pronouns (i.e. follow Principle B), d-pronouns follow yet another principle, Principle C, and function similarly to nouns in that they cannot have a direct relationship to an antecedent.


= Antecedents

= The following sentences give examples of particular types of pronouns used with antecedents: *Third-person personal pronouns: **''That poor man looks as if he needs a new coat.'' (the noun phrase ''that poor man'' is the antecedent of ''he'') **''Julia arrived yesterday. I met her at the station.'' (''Julia'' is the antecedent of ''her'') **''When they saw us, the lions began roaring'' (''the lions'' is the antecedent of ''they''; as it comes after the pronoun it may be called a ''postcedent'') *Other personal pronouns in some circumstances: **''Terry and I were hoping no one would find us.'' (''Terry and I'' is the antecedent of ''us'') **''You and Alice can come if you like.'' (''you and Alice'' is the antecedent of the second – plural – ''you'') *Reflexive and reciprocal pronouns: **''Jack hurt himself.'' (''Jack'' is the antecedent of ''himself'') **''We were teasing each other.'' (''we'' is the antecedent of ''each other'') *Relative pronouns: **''The woman who looked at you is my sister.'' (''the woman'' is the antecedent of ''who'') Some other types, such as
indefinite pronoun An indefinite pronoun is a pronoun which does not have a specific familiar referent. Indefinite pronouns are in contrast to definiteness, definite pronouns. Indefinite pronouns can represent either count nouns or noncount nouns. They often have ...
s, are usually used without antecedents. Relative pronouns are used without antecedents in free relative clauses. Even third-person personal pronouns are sometimes used without antecedents ("unprecursed") – this applies to special uses such as
dummy pronoun A dummy pronoun is a Deixis, deictic pronoun that fulfills a syntax, syntactical requirement without providing a contextually explicit meaning (linguistics), meaning of its referent. As such, it is an example of exophora. Dummy pronouns are used ...
s and generic ''they'', as well as cases where the referent is implied by the context.


English pronouns

English personal pronouns have a number of different syntactic contexts (Subject, Object, Possessive, Reflexive) and many features: * person (1st, 2nd, 3rd); * number (singular, plural); * gender (masculine, feminine, neuter or inanimate, epicene) English also has other pronoun types, including demonstrative, relative, indefinite, and interrogative pronouns:


Personal and possessive


Personal

Personal pronouns may be classified by
person A person (plural, : people) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of social relations such as kinship, ownership of pr ...
,
number A number is a mathematical object used to count, measure, and label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be represented in language with number words. More universally, individual numbers can ...
,
gender Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to femininity and masculinity and differentiating between them. Depending on the context, this may include sex-based social structures (i.e. gender roles) and gender identity. Most cultures us ...
and
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 suc ...
. English has three persons (first, second and third) and two numbers (singular and plural); in the third person singular there are also distinct pronoun forms for male, female and neuter gender. Principal forms are shown in the adjacent table. English personal pronouns have two cases, ''subject'' and ''object''.
Subject pronoun In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and st ...
s are used in subject position (''I like to eat chips, but she does not'').
Object pronoun In linguistics, an object pronoun is a personal pronoun that is used typically as a grammatical object: the direct or indirect object of a verb, or the object of a preposition. Object pronouns contrast with subject pronouns. Object pronouns in Engl ...
s are used for 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 or
preposition Prepositions and postpositions, together called adpositions (or broadly, in traditional grammar, simply prepositions), are a part of speech, class of words used to express spatial or temporal relations (''in'', ''under'', ''towards'', ''before'') ...
(''John likes me but not her''). Other distinct forms found in some languages include: * Second person informal and formal pronouns (the T–V distinction), like ''tu'' and ''vous'' in French. Formal second person pronouns can also signify plurality in many languages. There is no such distinction in standard modern English, though Elizabethan English marked the distinction with '' thou'' (singular informal) and ''you'' (plural or singular formal). Some dialects of English have developed informal plural second person pronouns, for instance, ''y'all'' (
Southern American English Southern American English or Southern U.S. English is a regional dialect or collection of dialects of American English spoken throughout the Southern United States, though concentrated increasingly in more rural areas, and spoken primarily by Wh ...
) and ''you guys'' (
American English American English, sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to the United States. English is the Languages of the United States, most widely spoken lan ...
). * Inclusive and exclusive first person plural pronouns, which indicate whether or not the audience is included, that is, whether ''we'' means "you and I" or "they and I". There is no such distinction in English. * Intensive (emphatic) pronouns, which re-emphasize a noun or pronoun that has already been mentioned. English uses the same forms as the reflexive pronouns; for example: ''I did it myself'' (contrast reflexive use, ''I did it to myself''). *Direct and indirect object pronouns, such as ''le'' and ''lui'' in French. English uses the same form for both; for example: ''Mary loves him'' (direct object); ''Mary sent him a letter'' (indirect object). * Prepositional pronouns, used after a
preposition Prepositions and postpositions, together called adpositions (or broadly, in traditional grammar, simply prepositions), are a part of speech, class of words used to express spatial or temporal relations (''in'', ''under'', ''towards'', ''before'') ...
. English uses ordinary object pronouns here: ''Mary looked at him''. *
Disjunctive pronoun A disjunctive pronoun is a stressed form of a personal pronoun Personal pronouns are pronouns that are associated primarily with a particular grammatical person – first person (as ''I''), second person (as ''you''), or third person (as ''he'', ...
s, used in isolation or in certain other special grammatical contexts, like ''moi'' in French. No distinct forms exist in English; for example: ''Who does this belong to? Me.'' * Strong and weak forms of certain pronouns, found in some languages such as Polish. * Pronoun avoidance, where personal pronouns are substituted by titles or kinship terms (particularly common in South-East Asia).


Possessive

Possessive pronouns are used to indicate possession (in a broad sense). Some occur as independent noun phrases: ''mine'', ''yours'', ''hers'', ''ours'', ''theirs''. An example is: ''Those clothes are mine.'' Others act as a determiner and must accompany a noun: ''my'', ''your'', ''her'', ''our'', ''your'', ''their'', as in: ''I lost my wallet.'' (''His'' and ''its'' can fall into either category, although ''its'' is nearly always found in the second.) Those of the second type have traditionally also been described as possessive
adjective An adjective (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is a word that describes a noun or noun phrase. Its semantic role is to change information given by the noun. Traditionally, adjectives were considered one of the main part of speech, par ...
s, and in more modern terminology as
possessive determiner Possessive determiners (from la, possessivus, translit=; grc, κτητικός / ktētikós - English words of Greek origin, en. ktetic Lallu) are Determiner (linguistics), determiners which express possession (linguistics), possession. Some tradi ...
s. The term "possessive pronoun" is sometimes restricted to the first type. Both types replace
possessive A possessive or ktetic form (Glossing abbreviation, abbreviated or ; from la, possessivus; grc, κτητικός, translit=ktētikós) is a word or grammatical construction used to indicate a relationship of possession (linguistics), possessio ...
noun phrases. As an example, ''Their crusade to capture our attention'' could replace ''The advertisers' crusade to capture our attention.''


Reflexive and reciprocal

Reflexive pronouns are used when a person or thing acts on itself, for example, ''John cut himself.'' In English they all end in ''-self'' or ''-selves'' and must refer to a noun phrase elsewhere in the same clause. Reciprocal pronouns refer to a reciprocal relationship (''each other'', ''one another''). They must refer to a noun phrase in the same clause. An example in English is: ''They do not like each other.'' In some languages, the same forms can be used as both reflexive and reciprocal pronouns.


Demonstrative

Demonstrative pronouns (in English, ''this'', ''that'' and their plurals ''these'', ''those'') often distinguish their targets by pointing or some other indication of position; for example, ''I'll take these.'' They may also be '' anaphoric'', depending on an earlier expression for context, for example, ''A kid actor would try to be all sweet, and who needs that?''


Indefinite

Indefinite pronouns, the largest group of pronouns, refer to one or more unspecified persons or things. One group in English includes compounds of ''some-'', ''any-'', ''every-'' and ''no-'' with ''-thing'', ''-one'' and ''-body'', for example: ''Anyone can do that.'' Another group, including ''many'', ''more'', ''both'', and ''most'', can appear alone or followed by ''of''. In addition, *
Distributive pronoun A distributive pronoun considers members of a group separately, rather than collectively. They include '' either, neither'' and others. * "to each his own" 'each2,(pronoun)Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary'' (2007) * "Men take each other's ...
s are used to refer to members of a group separately rather than collectively. (''To each his own.'') * Negative pronouns indicate the non-existence of people or things. (''Nobody thinks that.'') * Impersonal pronouns normally refer to a person but are not specific as to first, second or third person in the way that the personal pronouns are. (''One does not clean one's own windows.'')


Relative and interrogative


Relative

Relative pronouns in English include ''who'', ''whom'', ''whose'', ''what'', ''which'' and ''that''. They rely on an antecedent, and refer back to people or things previously mentioned: ''People who smoke should quit now.'' They are used in
relative clause A relative clause is a clause that modifies a noun or noun phraseRodney D. Huddleston, Geoffrey K. Pullum, ''A Student's Introduction to English Grammar'', CUP 2005, p. 183ff. and uses some grammatical device to indicate that one of the arguments ...
s. Relative pronouns can also be used as
complementizer In linguistics (especially generative grammar), complementizer or complementiser (list of glossing abbreviations, glossing abbreviation: ) is a functional category (part of speech) that includes those words that can be used to turn a clause into ...
s.


Interrogative

Relative pronouns can be used in an interrogative setting as interrogative pronouns. Interrogative pronouns ask which person or thing is meant. In reference to a person, one may use ''who'' (subject), ''whom'' (object) or ''whose'' (possessive); for example, ''Who did that?'' In colloquial speech, '' whom'' is generally replaced by ''who''. English non-personal interrogative pronouns (''which'' and ''what'') have only one form. In English and many other languages (e.g. French and Czech), the sets of relative and interrogative pronouns are nearly identical. Compare English: ''Who is that?'' (interrogative) and ''I know the woman who came'' (relative). In some other languages, interrogative pronouns and indefinite pronouns are frequently identical; for example,
Standard Chinese Standard Chinese ()—in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, pa ...
means "what?" as well as "something" or "anything".


Archaic forms

Though the personal pronouns described above are the current English pronouns,
Early Modern English Early Modern English or Early New English (sometimes abbreviated EModE, EMnE, or ENE) is the stage of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, with its ear ...
(as used by Shakespeare, for example) use a slightly different set of personal pronouns, shown in the table. The difference is entirely in the second person. Though one would rarely find these older forms used in recent literature, they are nevertheless considered part of Modern English.


Kinship

In English, kin terms like "mother," "uncle," "cousin" are a distinct word class from pronouns; however many
Australian Aboriginal languages The Indigenous languages of Australia number in the hundreds, the precise number being quite uncertain, although there is a range of estimates from a minimum of around 250 (using the technical definition of 'language' as non-mutually intellig ...
have more elaborated systems of encoding kinship in language including special kin forms of pronouns. In Murrinh-patha, for example, when selecting a nonsingular exclusive pronoun to refer to a group, the speaker will assess whether or not the members of the group belong to a common class of gender or kinship. If all of the members of the referent group are male, the MASCULINE form will be selected; if at least one is female, the FEMININE is selected, but if all the members are in a sibling-like kinship relation, a third SIBLING form is selected. In Arabana-Wangkangurru, the speaker will use entirely different sets of pronouns depending on whether the speaker and the referent are or are not in a common moiety. See the following example: See Australian Aboriginal kinship for more details.


Special uses

Some special uses of personal pronouns include: * Generic ''you'', where second person pronouns are used in an indefinite sense: ''You can't buy good old-fashioned bulbs these days.'' * Generic ''they'': ''In China they drive on the right.'' * Gender non-specific uses, where a pronoun refers to a non-specific person or a person whose gender is not specified: English usage and acceptance varies (and has varied) regarding generic ''he'' and singular ''they'', among others. **A closely related usage is the singular ''they'' to refer to a person whose gender is specified as
non-binary Non-binary and genderqueer are umbrella terms for Gender identity, gender identities that are not solely male or femaleidentities that are outside the gender binary. Non-binary identities fall under the transgender umbrella, since non-binary ...
, genderqueer, or other, which has gained popularity in LGBTQ+ culture in particular. *Vernacular usage of "yo" as a gender neutral pronoun has also been recorded among school students in Baltimore. * Preferred gender pronoun selected to reflect gender identity *
Dummy pronoun A dummy pronoun is a Deixis, deictic pronoun that fulfills a syntax, syntactical requirement without providing a contextually explicit meaning (linguistics), meaning of its referent. As such, it is an example of exophora. Dummy pronouns are used ...
s (expletive pronouns), used to satisfy a grammatical requirement for a noun or pronoun, but contributing nothing to its meaning: ''It is raining.'' *
Royal we The royal ''we'', majestic plural (), or royal plural, is the use of a plural pronoun (or corresponding plural-inflected verb forms) used by a single person who is a monarch or holds a high office to refer to themselves. A more general term fo ...
, used to refer to a single person who is a
monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. Life tenure, for life or until abdication, and therefore the head of state of a monarchy. A monarch may exercise the highest authority ...
: ''We are not amused.'' * Nosism: The use of the pronoun we to refer to oneself. *
Resumptive pronoun A resumptive pronoun is a personal pronoun appearing in a relative clause, which restates the antecedent (grammar), antecedent after a pause or interruption (such as an embedded clause, series of adjectives, or a Wh-movement#Wh-islands, wh-island), ...
s, "intrusive" personal pronouns found (for example) in some relative clauses where a gap (
trace Trace may refer to: Arts and entertainment Music * Trace (Son Volt album), ''Trace'' (Son Volt album), 1995 * Trace (Died Pretty album), ''Trace'' (Died Pretty album), 1993 * Trace (band), a Dutch progressive rock band * The Trace (album), ''The ...
) might be expected: ''This is the girl that I don't know what she said.''


See also


Related topics

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Anaphora (linguistics) In linguistics, anaphora () is the use of an expression whose interpretation depends upon another expression in context (its Antecedent (grammar), antecedent or postcedent). In a narrower sense, anaphora is the use of an expression that depends s ...
* Cataphora *
Clusivity In linguistics, clusivity is a grammatical distinction between ''inclusive'' and ''exclusive'' Grammatical person, first-person pronouns and verbal morphology, also called ''inclusive "we"'' and ''exclusive "we"''. Inclusive "we" specifically incl ...
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Gender-specific and gender-neutral pronouns A third-person pronoun is a pronoun that refers to an entity other than the speaker or listener. Some languages with gender-specific pronouns have them as part of a grammatical gender system, a system of Agreement (linguistics), agreement where mo ...
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Generic antecedents Generic antecedents are representatives of classes, referred to in ordinary language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabulary. Languages are the ...
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Deixis In linguistics, deixis (, ) is the use of general words and phrases to refer to a specific time, place, or person in Context (language use), context, e.g., the words ''tomorrow'', ''there'', and ''they''. Words are deictic if their semantic meani ...
* Inalienable possession *
Indefinite pronoun An indefinite pronoun is a pronoun which does not have a specific familiar referent. Indefinite pronouns are in contrast to definiteness, definite pronouns. Indefinite pronouns can represent either count nouns or noncount nouns. They often have ...
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Logophoric pronoun Logophoricity is a phenomenon of Binding (linguistics), binding relation that may employ a morphologically different set of anaphoric forms, in the context where the referent is an entity whose speech, thoughts, or feelings are being reported. T ...
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Neopronouns Neopronouns are a category of neologistic English third-person personal pronouns Personal pronouns are pronouns that are associated primarily with a particular grammatical person – first person (as ''I''), second person (as ''you''), or th ...
* Phi features *
Pro-form In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and ...
* Pronoun game *
Reciprocal pronoun A reciprocal pronoun is a pronoun that indicates a reciprocal relationship. A reciprocal pronoun can be used for one of the participants of a reciprocal construction, i.e. a clause in which two participants are in a mutual relationship. The recipr ...
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Reflexive pronoun A reflexive pronoun is a pronoun that refers to another noun or pronoun (its antecedent) within the same sentence. In the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language of the Indo-European language ...


In English

* Old English pronouns


In other languages

* Bulgarian pronouns * Cantonese pronouns * Chinese pronouns * Dutch grammar: Pronouns and determiners * Esperanto grammar: Pronouns * French pronouns * German pronouns * Ido pronouns * Interlingua pronouns * Irish morphology: Pronouns * Italian grammar: Pronouns *
Japanese pronouns Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally , ''Nihonkoku'') is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean, and is bordered on the west by the Sea ...
* Korean pronouns * Macedonian pronouns * Novial: Pronouns *
Portuguese personal pronouns Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=yes ), is a Sovereign state, country whose mainland is located on ...
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Proto-Indo-European pronouns Proto-Indo-European pronouns have been reconstructed by modern linguists, based on similarities found across all Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family native to the languages of Europe, overwhelming majo ...
* Slovene pronouns * Spanish grammar: Pronouns *
Vietnamese pronouns In general, a Vietnamese pronoun ( vi, đại từ nhân xưng, translation=person-calling pronoun, or ) can serve as a noun phrase. In Vietnamese, a pronoun usually connotes a degree of family relationship or kinship. In polite speech, the aspect ...
* Yoruba pronouns * Georgian pronouns


Notes


References


Further reading

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External links


English pronouns exercises
by Jennifer Frost * {{Authority control Parts of speech