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1. A Pronoun is a word that is used instead of a noun. We say, "John went away yesterday; he looked quite happy." In this case the pronoun he stands in the place of John.
(i) The word pronoun comes from the Latin pro, for ; and nomen,
(ii) The above definition hardly applies to the pronoun 1. If we say I write, the I cannot have John Smith substituted for it. We cannot say John Smith write. 1, in fact, is the universal pronoun for the person speaking; and it cannot be said to stand in place of his mere
The same remark applies to some extent to thou and you. 2. The pronouns are among the oldest parts of speech, and have, therefore, been subject to many changes. In spite of these changes, they have kept many of their inflexions; while our English adjective has parted with all, and our noun with most.
3. There are four kinds of pronouns: Personal; Interrogative; Relative; and Indefinite. The following is a table, with examples of each :
4. There are three Personal Pronouns: The Personal Pronoun of the First Person; of the Second Person; and of the Third Person.
5. The First Personal Pronoun indicates the person speaking; the Second Personal Pronoun, the person spoken to; and the Third, the person spoken of.
6. The First Personal Pronoun has, of course, no distinction of gender. It is made up of the following forms, which are fragments of different words :
(i) We is not = I+I; because there can be only one I in all the world. We is really =I + he, I + you, or I + they.
(ii) I can have no vocative as such. If you address yourself, you must say Thou or You.
(iii) The dative is preserved in such words and phrases as "Me thinks” (“ it seems to me,”—where the think comes from thincan, to seem, and not from thencan, to think); "Woe is me;" “Give me the plate ; If you please," etc.
7. The Second Personal Pronoun has no distinction of gender. It has the following forms :
(i) Ye was the old nominative plural; you was always dative or objective. “Ye have not chosen me ; but I have chosen you.”
(ii) Thou was, from the 14th to the 17th century, the pronoun of affection, of familiarity, of superiority, and of contempt. This is still the usage in France of tu and toi. Hence the verb tutoyer.
(iii) My, Thy, Our, Your are used along with nouns; Mine, Thine, Ours, and Yours cannot go with nouns, and they are always used alone. Mine and Thine, however, are used in Poetry and in the English Bible with nouns which begin with a vowel or silent h.
8. The Third Personal Pronoun requires distinctions of gender, because it is necessary to indicate the sex of the person we are talking of; and it has them.
(i) She is really the feminine of the old demonstrative se, sco, thaet ; and it has supplanted the old A.S. pronoun heo, which still exists in Lancashire in the form of hoo.
(ii) The old and proper dative of it is him. The old neuter of he was hit, the t being the inflection for the neuter.
(iii) Him, the dative, came to be also used as the objective. The oldest objective was hine.
9. The Personal Pronouns are often used as Reflexive Pronouns. Reflexive Pronouns are (i) datives; or (ii) objectives; or (iii) compounds of self with the personal pronoun. For example :
(i) Dative : “I press me none but good householders,” said by Falstaff, in “King Henry IV.,” I. iv. 2, 16. “I made me no more ado," I. ii. 4, 223.
soldier hew him down a bough."-- Macbeth, V. iv. 6. (ii) Objective: Shakespeare has such phrases as I whipt me ; I disrobed me; I have learned me. In modern English, chiefly in poetry, we have : He sat him down ; Get thee hence ! etc.
(iii) Compounds : I bethought myself; He wronged himself ; etc.
10. The Interrogative Pronouns are those pronouns which we use in asking questions. They are who, which, what, and whether.
(i) The word interrogative comes from the Latin interrogāre, to ask. Hence also interrogation, interrogatory, etc.
11. Who is both masculine and feminine, and is used only of persons. Its neuter is what. (The t in what, as in that, is the old suffix for the neuter gender.) The possessive is whose ; the objective whom. The following are the forms :
(i) Who-m is really a dative, like hi-m. But we now use it only as an objective.
(ii) Whose may be used of neuters; but it is almost invariably employed of persons only.
12. Which—formerly hwilc—is a compound word, made up of the wh in who, and lc, which is a contraction of the O.E. lîc = like. It therefore really means, Of what sort ? It now asks for one out of a number; as, “ Here are several kinds of fruits : which will you have ?”
13. Whether is also a compound word, made up of who + ther; and it means, Which of the two ?
(i) The ther in whether is the same as the ther in neither, etc.
RELATIVE OR CONJUNCTIVE PRONOUNS.
14. A Relative Pronoun is a pronoun which possesses two functions : (i) it stands for a noun ; and (ii) it joins two sentences together. That is to say, it is both a pronoun and a conjunction. For example, we say, “This is the man whose apples we bought.” This statement is made up of two sentences : (i) " This is the man;" and (ii) “We bought his apples.” The relative pronoun whose joins together the two sentences.
(i) Relative Pronouns might also be called conjunctive pronouns. (ii) Whose, in the above sentence, is called relative, because it relates to the word man. Man is called its antecedent, or goer-before.
The word antecedent comes from the Lat. ante, before; and cedo, I go.
15. The Relative Pronouns are that; who, which; what. As and but are also employed as relatives.
(i) Who, which, and what are also combined with so and ever, and form Compound Relatives; such as whoso, whosoever, whatsoever, and whichsoever.
(ii) That is the oldest of our relative pronouns. It is really the neuter of the old demonstrative adj., se, seo, thaet. It differs from who in two respects : (a) It cannot be used after a preposition. We cannot say, “This is the man with that I went.” (b) It is generally employed to limit, distinguish, and define. Thus we say, “The house that I built is for sale." Here the sentence that I built is an adjective, limiting or defining the noun house. Hence it has been called the defining relative.
Who or which introduces a new fact about the antecedent; that only marks it off from other nouns.
(iii) Who has whose and whom in the possessive and objective—both in the singular and in the plural.
(iv) Which is not to be regarded as the neuter of who. It is the form used when the antecedent is the name of an animal or thing. After a • preposition, it is sometimes replaced by where; as wherein = in which; whereto to which.
(v) What performs the function of a compound relative=that + which.. If we examine its function in different sentences, we shall find that it may be equivalent to(a) Two Nominatives ; as in 'This is what he is” (=the person that). (6) Two Objectives; as in "He has what he asked for” (=the thing that). (c) Nom. and Obj.; as in “This is what he asked for”(=the thing that). (d) Obj. and Nom.; as in “I know what he is ” (=the person that).
(vi) As is the proper relative after the adjecti such and same. As is, however, properly an adverb. “ This is the same as I had” is="This is the same as that which I had.”
(vii) But is the proper relative after a negative ; as “There was no man but would have died for her.” Here but who + not. (This is like the Latin use of quin = qui + non).
16. An Indefinite Pronoun is a pronoun that does not stand in the place of a noun which is the name for a definite person or thing, but is used vaguely, and without a distinct reference.
17. The chief Indefinite Pronouns are one, none; any ; other;
and some. (i) One is the best instance of an indefinite pronoun. It is simply the cardinal one used as a pronoun. In 0.E. we used man; and we still find one example in the Bible—Zech. xiii. 5 : “Man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.” One, as an indefinite pronoun, has two peculiarities. It (a) can be put in the possessive case; and (b) can take a plural form. Thus we can say : (a)“ One can do what one likes with one's own ;" and (6)“ I want some big ones."
(ii) None is the negative of one. “None think the great unhappy, but the great.” But none is always plural. No (the adjective) is a short form of none; as a is of an; and my of mine.
(iii) Any is derived from an, a form of one. It may be used as an adjective also —either with a singular or a plural noun. When used as a pronoun, it is generally plural.