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PRONOUNS

A pronoun is a word that can be used in place of a noun or a noun phrase, as the word
itself tells us:pro-noun. We use pronouns like she, he, it and they when we already know
who or what is referred to. This saves us from having to repeat the name or the noun
whenever we need to refer to it:

John arrived late last night. He had had a terrible journey.


I wrote to Kay and told her what had happened.

Determiners compared with pronouns

Determiners are always followed by a noun. Pronouns such as some or this followed by
a noun function as determiners when they stand on their own, they function as ponouns:

I want some milk. (some+noun: determiner function)


I want some (some on its own: pronominal function)

There are 8 classes of pronouns: personal, reflexive, reciprocal, possessive,


demonstrative, relative interrogative and indefinite pronouns.

1- PERSONAL PRONOUNS
Subject: I you he she it we you they
Object: me you him her it us you them

Though these words are called personal pronouns, they do not refer only to people. Eg :
Your breakfast is ready. It is on the table.
Personal pronouns display a person contrast; that is, they have separate 1st, 2nd and 3rd
person forms. Person distinguishes the speaker or writer (1st person: I, we) from the
addressee (2nd person: you) and from those persons or things which are neither (3rd
person: he, she, it, they) E.g.:

I hope that you Will express an opinion on them.


If pronouns of different persons are coordinated, the first person comes last and the second
person usually comes first. This ordering is important from the viewpoint of style and
courtesy. E.g.:
- You, Jack and I Will go to the rugby match.

Third person coordinates usually have the masculine before the feminine, the pronoun
before the noun phrase. Eg
- He and she were both elected.
- She and another student were both elected

In the third person (he, she, it), there is three-way gender contrast: masculine, feminine
and nonpersonal, the choice of pronouns depends on the noun being replaced.

 John is here. He (replacing John) can’t stay long.


 The windows are dirty. I must wash them (replacing windows)

Personal pronouns agree with the nouns they replace in number, showing us whether they
are referring to singular or plural.
 If you see Mary, please giver her this present (singular)
 If you see Mary and Tom, please give them this wedding present (plural)
Case in personal pronouns involves a distinction making broadly the grammatical roles
of subject and object. Compare:

The policeman detained this young woman.


He her
The woman resisted the policeman
She him

The choice of subjective or objective forms does not depend solely upon the strict
grammatical distinction between subject and object. Rather, usage shows that we are
concerned more with subject territory (the pre-verbal part of a clause) in contrast to object
territory (the post verbal part of a clause)
EXCEPTIONS

 Object pronouns are normally used in reference to subject pronouns after be in


everyday speech. Eg
Who is it? It’s me/he/ us
 Subject pronouns are not normally used by themselves or in short answers with
not. Object pronouns are used instead. Eg

 Who wants a ride on my bike? Me/ not me

 Object pronouns are commonly used after as and than.

 She is as old as me
 You are taller than him.
However, subject pronouns are used if as or than are followed by subject + verb.
 She is as old as Iam/ as he is

 Object pronouns often occur in exclamations like the following.

 He’s got to study all summer. Poor him!


 She’s been promoted. Lucky her!

The pronoun it

a) Any singular noun phase that does not determine reference by he or she, is referred
to by it, thus collectives and noncount concretes. E.g.
 The committee met son after it had been appointed. (collective)
 He bought some salmon because it was his favourite food. (noncount)

b) It can also refer to the content of clauses or wholes sentences. E.g.


 Last night I ran out of petrol. It taught me a lesson
c) We often use it in sentences referring to:
1- Time: It’s 8 oclock
2- Weather: It’s windy
3- Temperature: It’s 37° centigrade
4- Distance: It’s 20 miles to London
5- Environment: It’s noisy in here
6- With since: It’s 3 years since we last met
7- With says: It says here that there was a big fire in Buenos Aires
When used in this way, it is sometimes called an empty subject because it carries no real
information. It is present because every English sentence hast to contain a subject and a
verb.

The pronoun One

One used as an indefinite pronoun meaning “everyone/anyone” is sometimes used


formally in general statements:
 World trade is improving, but one cannot expect miracles.
In everyday speech, the informal “you” is preferred:
 Can you open the door?

One may be used to replace I, but this tends to sound pompous:

 One likes to have one’s breakfast in bed now and again.

One can be linked with one’s, just as you can be linked with your. However, constructions
with one, one’s and oneself are often awkward because of the repetion of one:
 One should do one’s best at all times.
In AmE one’s /oneself can be repaced by his /her, himself/herself.

 One should give himself/herself a holiday from time to time.

2- REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS

Singular: myself yourself himself herself itself


Plural: ourselves yourselves themselves

The reflexive pronouns are always coreferential with a noun or another pronoun,
agreeimg with it in number, gender and person.
 Verónica herself saw the accident
 The dog was scratching itself
 He and his wife poured themselves a drink.
By contrast, in:
 He and his wife poured them a drink

The indirect object them refers to people other than the subject. The co reference must be
within the clause, thus we have a contrast between:

 Penelope begged Jane to look after her (Penelope)


 Penelope begged Jane to look after herself (Jane)

There are some verbs in English that must be always followed by reflexives. For example,
absent, avail, pride, ingratiate

 They pride themselves on their cleaned bedroom.

Other verbs are commonly followed by reflexives. Eg amuse, blame, cut, enjoy, hurt,
introduce

 Please, introduce yourself.


Of course these verbs can also be followed by ordinary objects:
 We enjoyed the party
The important thing to remember is that this kind are never followed by objects pronouns
(me, you, him etc)
When the subject and the object refer to the same person
 I’ve cul myself.
 Accidentally, I’ve cut John’s fingers.
Reflexive pronouns can occur after prepositions which often follow verbs (look after,
listen to) or adjectives (pleased with). E.g.
 Look at yourself
 Lucy’s looking very pleased with herself.
By+ reflexive means without help or alone. Eg
 He lives by himself
3- RECIPOCRAL PRONOUNS
Each other one another

The reciprocal pronouns each other and one another are used to indcate that two people
do the same thing, feel the same way or have the same relationship. For example, if your
friend Paul loves his girlfriend Anne and Anne loves him back, you can say “Paul and
Anne love each other” or “Paul and Anne love one another.”

Reciprocal pronouns are not used as the subject of a clause but as the object of a verb.
 We help each other a lot.

They are also used as the object of a preposition:


 They didn’t dare to look at each other.
Note that there is a little difference between each other and one another. They can both
be used to refer to two or more people or things, although some people prefer the use of
each other to refer to only to two items and one another to refer to more than two.
In formal written English, it is posible to use each as the subject of a clause and the other
as the object of a clause or of a preposition. So a more formal way of saying “They looked
at each other” is “Each looked at the other”.
‘s can be added to the reciprocal pronouns to form genitive phrases.
 I hope you all enjoy each other’s company.

4- POSSESSIVE PRONOUNS

Determiner function: my your our his her its their


Pronominal function: mine yours ours his hers its theirs

Compare:

 That is my bike _____________ That bike is mine


 Which are their clothes_________________Which clothes are theirs?
 Is this her car? __________________ Is this car hers?

Possessives show possession, i.e., that someone or sometinhg belongs to somebody. They
answer the question Whose?
 These are his children These children are his

5- DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS

Singular: this that


Plural: these those

The demonstratives can function as determiners and as pronouns. This/these suggest


relative proximity to the speaker, that/ those relative remoteness. E.g.
 We shall compare this/these (picture(s)) with that/those (picture(s)) over there.
But while all can be used as determiners irrespective of the gender of the noun phrase
head, as pronouns the reference must be to nouns of non personal (and usually inanimate)
gender.
 In the garden I noticed this plastic bag
this kitten
this woman
Occasionally, the demonstratives may be used as pronouns with animate reference where
there is ellipsis:
 I attended to that patient but not this(one)
The demonstrative can be modified by predeterminers:
 She painted all (of) those pictures last year.
The pointing contrast between this/these and that/ those is not confined to spatial
perception. While this morning usually refers to “today”, that morning refers to “a more
distant morning”, past or future. More generally, this/ these have more immediate
relevance than that/those. E.g:
 These figures have just been complied, those of yours are out of date.
Especially in informal usage, this/ these are used for the speaker’s approval and
that/those for disapproval:
 How can this intelligent girl think of marrying that awful bore?

6- RELATIVE PRONOUNS
Relative pronouns comprise two series:
1- Who whom whose which
2- That zero (ø)

Relative pronouns relate to a preceding noun or pronoun and introduce relative clauses.
These clauses describe the noun or pronoun so postmodified (called the antecedent- the
word to which the relative clause relates). E.g.:
 The man is coming to tea. (well, what man?)
The man who called you yesterday is coming to tea.
Compare:
 I’d like to come and see the house which/that/ø you have for sale.

In neither series are there distinctions of person or number, but in (1) we have some
distinctions of gender and case. With who and whom the antecedent must have personal
gender, with which it must have nonpersonal gender, with whose the antecedent is
usually personal but can also be nonpersonal. Then:

 Are you the doctor who looked after my daughter?


 That is the hospital which is going to be demolished.
 That is the doctor whose phone number I gave you.
hospital
While who and whom have personal gender, their difference in form reflects the case
distinction, subjective and objective respectively, within the relative clause:
 The man who greeted me whom I greeted/ to whom I spoke is my boss.
In series (2), that can be used without reference to the gender of the antecedent or to the
function within the relative clause, except that it cannot be predeced by a preposition:
 The actor that please me is Leo Dicaprio
that I admire
that Iam attracted to
Zero has a similar range, lacking only te subject function:
 The actor (ø) I admire is Leo Dicaprio.
(ø) I am attracted to is Leo Dicaprio.
7- INTERROGATIVE PRONOUNS

There are 5 interrogative pronouns:

Who whom whose which what

They differ from relative pronouns in that a) they do not relate to a preceding noun or
pronoun, and b) their antecedent is not within the sentence. Eg
 He proposed a motion, which was accepted. (the relative pronoun relates to
motion)
 I don’t know which they accepted. (the interrogative pronoun relates to something
not present in the sentence)
Whose, who and whom can be used only with reference to items of personal gender.
While whom can function only in the objective case, who can be both subjective and
objective except after a preposition. Eg
 Who owns this house?
 Who(m) does this house belong to?
 To whom does this house belong? (formal)
 Whose is this house?

With which, reference can be personal and nonpersonal. Eg


 Of these cars, which is the best?
 Students, which do you like most?

When what is used as a pronoun, the questioner assumes that the reference is nonpersonal:

 What is in that box?


 What were you wearing that day?

But what and which can also be determiners, and in this function the noun phrase can be
personal or nonpersonal, the difference then being that which assumes a limited choice
of known answers:
 What doctor(s) would refuse t osee a patient?
 Which doctor(s) (of those we are discussing) gave an opinión on this problem?
As determiner, whose retains its personal reference:
 Whose house is this?
The distinction between who, what and which is brought out in a set like the following:
 Who is his wife? The novelist Felicity Smith
 What is his wife? She is a novelist.
 Which is his wife? The woman nearest the door.

8- INDEFINITE PRONOUNS

They are characterized by having a general and nonspecific reference which the term
“indefinite” tries to capture. They are called “indefinite” because we do not always know
who or what we are referring to. Equally, they are characterized by having functions
directly involves in expressing quantity, from totality (all) to its converse (nothing).
Reference in some cases involves gender, such that items in body are personal, items in -
thing nonpersonal. Several of the indefinites can function both as determiners and as
pronouns, as we shall see in what follows.
Indefinite pronouns can be divided into universal indefinites and partitive indefinites

a) Universal indefinites
Positive: everyone everything everybody each every all both
Negative: no one nothing nobody none neither no

We may first consider: everybody, everyone, everything, no one, nobody, nothing. These
function only as pronouns and, although they have plural meaning, they take a singular
verb.
The party was great. Everyone/ everybody was having a good time.

Two further indefinites are: each and noneñ the are both able to opérate irrespective of
gender.
Many members hesitated but each was pressed to act
Is there any sugar? No, there’s none
Are there any bread Rolls?- no, there are none.

None with plural count nouns is in divided usage:


-None of the books has been placed on the shelves.
-None of the books have been placed on the shelves.
Prescriptive grammars have tended to insisto n the singular verb, but notional concord
invites a plural verb, which tends to be more frequently used and is generally accepted
even in formal usage.
Each ( but not none) can also function as a dterminer, in which role it is closely
paralleledby every:

- Each/ every candidate Will be individually interviewed.

Where they differ is that each is more targeted on the individual among the totally itself.
With the dterminer no which corresponds to none, plural and singular reference is used:

- No photography is permitted during the ceremony


- There were no passengers on the train.
With all and both, we make plural and dual reference:
The Factory produces luxury cars and all are for export
Police interviewed the two suspects and both were arrested
These two ítems also have a predeterminer function:
All these cars are for export
Both the suspects were arrested.
The converse of al lis no(ne), that of both is neither, usually with singular verb concord.
-Pólice interviewed the two suspects but neither was arrested.
Neither also has a dterminer function:
Neither suspects was arrested.

Partitive indefinites

Assertive: someone somebody something some


Nonassertive: anyone anybody anything either any

In dealing with the partitives, we must make a primary distinction between (a) those in
assertive use, i.e., those that occur in positive declarative sentences, and (b) those in
nonassertive use, i.e., those that occur in negative and interrogative sentences.

(a) I can see someone/somebody climbing that tree.


There’s something I want to tell you.
There are nuts here, please have some
There is wine here, please have some
All the students speak French and some speak italian as well

(b) Did you see anyone/anybody in the garden?


I couldn’t find anything to read
I’d like nuts, if you have any.
I’d like wine, if you have any.
All the students work hard and I don’t think any will fail.

When some and any are used as pronouns, they suaully have clear contextual
reference to a noun phrase:

- There are nuts here, please have some


- I’d like wine, if you have any.
Both some and any occur more freely as dterminers. The following examples illustrate
the use of these ítems with personal , nonpersonal count and noncount reference:
I would love some nuts and some wine, please.
If you haven’t any nuts, I’ll not have any wine, thank you.
I inivited some teachers but I didn’t invite any students to the party.

Corrsponding to the negative neither, there is the nonassertive either:


The pólice arrested both suspects ( positive).
The pólice arrested neither (suspect) (negative)

Compare:
The pólice did not arrest either (suspect) ( nonassertive)
Assertive forms can be used in nonassertive territory when the presupposition is positive:
Can you see someone in the garden? (0 there is someone in the garden; can you see him/
her?