i-   |    Pronominal stem.   |  

1. This answer explains the possible difference in meaning between 'root' and 'stem', which induced my question in the title above.

2. What does it mean for a stem be pronominal? A stem can function as a pronoun? I'm untrained in linguistics. So please explain in plain, simple language, as though I were 15 years old.

  • 1
    In I-E languages, pronouns are mostly inflection; in Latin, everything was inflected for person, number, gender, and case. That takes up a lot of room, and pronouns are sposta be short. So the stems they're added to are very short and flexible. Like the *t- stem that's behind English TH-words (this, that, the, them, there, then, than) and the *kʷ- stem behind the WH-words. They show up in Latin as T- and QU-words (tantum 'so much', quantum 'how much'; talis 'that way', qualis 'how'). The *i- stem underlies Latin is, ea, id paradigm.
    – jlawler
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 14:15
  • @jlawler +1. Thanks. I never perceived the stems that lurked behind the English TH-words and WH-words, despite reading English all this time!
    – user5306
    Commented Aug 1, 2015 at 1:24

1 Answer 1


The phrase 'pronominal stem' just means the 'stem' of a pronoun. So the stem of the English pronouns 'who', 'whom' and 'whose' is 'who-'. As they are pronouns it is a 'pronominal stem'. As the article you linked to says the difference between 'stem' and 'root' is not relevant generally to English, but in this case it is as these words share a root 'wh-' both with the pronoun forms 'what' and 'which' and the adverbs 'where' and 'why'.

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