I'm aware of inclusive and exclusive examples of "we", but I'm not sure if the languages with clusivity extend it to our first person plural pronouns, like "our" for example. Does anyone know of such examples, or where I could find research/evidence of this nature? Thanks!

  • 6
    Many Australian languages distinguish inclusive/exclusive in the first person pronouns (typically in both dual and plural), and this also applies to the genitive forms of these pronouns (as well as the locative, accusative, etc forms) Feb 20, 2020 at 21:53
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    We is a first person plural pronoun. Austronesian languages like Malay regularly distinguish inclusive and exclusive first person plural, as subject (like English we), object (like English us), and possessive (like English our), as well as other uses.
    – jlawler
    Feb 21, 2020 at 0:01
  • Southern "we'uns" might be inclusive. See artsandsciences.sc.edu/appalachianenglish/node/752.
    – Greg Lee
    Feb 23, 2020 at 18:27

2 Answers 2


It is common for Australian languages (particularly those of the Pama-Nyungan family) to distinguish inclusive/exclusive in the non-singular first person pronouns (typically in both dual and plural). In many languages this distinction also applies to the various case forms of these pronouns, for example the genitive, locative, accusative, etc forms.

The below example is from Wajarri (Pama-Nyungan).

Wajarri exclusive/inclusive free pronouns (Marmion, 1996)

nominative accusative purposive/genitive locative
DUAL 1INCL ngali ngalinha ngalingu ngalila
1EXCL ngaliju ngalijunha ngalijungu ngalijula
PLURAL 1INCL nganhu nganhunha nganhungu nganhula
1EXCL nganju nganjunha nganjungu nganjula

It is also common for Pama-Nyungan languages to make extensive use of clitic pronouns rather than always using the full free forms, and some languages have the inclusive-exclusive distinction with these pronouns. The next table shows the clitic pronouns from Yulparija (Pama-Nyungan) from Burridge (1996).

Yulparija exclusive/inclusive clitic pronouns (Burridge, 1996)

nominative accusative dative locative
DUAL 1INCL -li -linya -limpa -linyara
1EXCL -liju -linyaju -limpaju -linyajura
PLURAL 1INCL -la -lanya -lampa -lanyara
1EXCL -laju -lanyaju -lampaju -lanyajura


Burridge, K. (1996). Yulparija sketch grammar. In McGregor, W., editor, Studies in Kimberley Languages in Honour of Howard Coate, pages 15–69. Lincom Europa, Newcastle.

Marmion, D. (1996). A description of the morphology of Wajarri. Honours thesis, UNE, Armidale, NSW


Malagasy, which has links to Malay:

Isika - inclusive we; Izahay - exclusive we

Does anyone know if anyone has theorised as to why some languages have his distinction and others not?

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