To be frank, I am very unsure about this, but having two sets and not knowing how they relate, there are four possibilities so far:

  • nouns and pronouns are own sets without any connection between them
  • nouns and pronouns share a common part with each other
  • nouns are a subset of pronouns
  • pronouns are a subset of nouns

What is actually their relation?

  • I do not understand what your question is getting at.
    – user5426
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 14:40
  • One part of speech cannot be a subset of the other part of speech.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 15:23
  • 1
    Parts of speech are not real, objective entities in the world: they are entirely elements of an abstract analysis. Since there are many different possible analyses even of one language, there is no single answer to a question like this.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 13:21
  • "Parts of speech" is just a concept thought up by people thinking about how languages work. It's not a natural fact like arms and legs. This means different people's concepts will differ. In fact in linguistics "parts of speech" is very outmoded and has been replaced by more flexible and subtle theories such as "word class". Of course there are more competing theories than ever. None of us here can declare any one theory to be the one true theory. Not even for one language, let alone across all languages. Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 13:21
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    @hippietrail ''Part of speech'' means the same thing as ''word class'' and is a concept that came out of people examining the patterns in how languages work. Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 11:47

1 Answer 1


This will depend on both the language you are analysing and your analytical framework, but in most cases both nouns and pronouns could be categorised as a subcategory of the nominals. Other subcategories of the nominals include (in some languages) proper names, participles, adjectives, and co-referencing affixes/clitics. The nominals could also be called substantives.

Nouns and verbs are the two arch-categories of the open word classes. If a word can take morphology such as case, gender or number, then it will usually be analysed as a nominal. The different nominal subcategories will have different restrictions on which morphology they can take. Or if there is no difference, then it can be argued that what would be two word classes in one language are actually one word class in another. The adjectives are the classic example of a word class that can be either a pure nominal, a pure verb, a pure independent category, or something in between.

  • In Hebrew verbs can take gender and in many languages verbs take number. There are broader tests though that work also with languages which have all syntax and little morphology. Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 13:17
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    Verbs can take gender and number but only as co-referencing morphology! And some people would analyse those as pronominals too. The tests will be different for isolating languages, I was just giving some common cases.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 21:29

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