Questions tagged [pronoun]

A word used in place of a noun or noun phrase. This includes personal pronouns, possessive pronouns, relative pronouns and others.

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45
votes
9answers
6k views

Is there any language that uses different pronouns for “we” depending on whether the spoken to person is included in the group?

As in "we are going out tonight" using a different word for "we" depending on whether you mean "me and some other people" or "you and me (and potentially other people as well)".
35
votes
8answers
6k views

Are there languages that don't have this kind of ambiguity?

In the sentence "John told James that he's happy.", the pronoun "he" is ambiguous, since it could refer to either John or James. Are there any languages which try to solve this ...
31
votes
5answers
6k views

What languages lack personal pronouns, and why?

The Japanese language lacks personal pronouns in the IE sense. Japanese is very pro-drop, and often sentences will be constructed so personal pronouns do not appear, and the agents which the pronouns ...
29
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8answers
5k views

Is there a language where there are personal pronouns for the first or second person that have gender?

Is there a language where there are personal pronouns for the first or second person that have gender? Like a feminine "I" or a masculine "you".
25
votes
17answers
13k views

Is there a language without gender in third person pronouns?

English (as most Indo-European languages) has a gender-neutral third person pronoun, it, but it is typically not used for people; if one wants to be gender neutral, one is often stuck using he or she. ...
21
votes
9answers
5k views

Do any languages mark social distinctions other than gender and status?

Many languages have pronouns that reflect gender, and some have pronouns that reflect relative social hierarchy or formality. (To pick an example I actually know, in Dutch the second person singular ...
19
votes
3answers
994 views

Are there any fundamental differences in personal pronoun acquisition across languages?

I am interest in reversal errors in personal pronoun acquisition. My knowledge comes mostly from studies done with English-speaking children, and I was wondering if there is any languages where this ...
17
votes
3answers
3k views

Are there any languages that have a pronoun which is only used to refer to royalty?

I can recall reading an article years ago which claimed that some languages have unused "royal" pronouns. That is, these pronouns were only used to refer to royalty as a show of respect or ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

Does Japanese have pronouns?

It is often said that Japanese doesn't really have a pronoun word class, such as in the Wikipedia article on Japanese Grammar: Although many grammars and textbooks mention pronouns (代名詞 daimeishi), ...
14
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3answers
6k views

Is English unusual in having no second person plural form?

In Spanish, there are the "vosotros" (only used in Spain) and "ustedes" (formal in Spain) forms for use when talking to a group of people. These also use specific conjugations different different from ...
13
votes
7answers
2k views

Are the Finnish pronouns related to their Indo-European counterparts?

Although not belonging to the Indo-European family, Finnish has personal pronouns that resemble (to a layperson, at least) the corresponding pronouns in Indo-European languages. For example, the ...
12
votes
1answer
588 views

Pronoun introduced before its antecedent

I was speaking to a college-educated American woman in her 80s, born and raised in the metropolitan east coast of the United States. We were on a new topic, and without any preceding context, she ...
12
votes
5answers
452 views

Has any language ever borrowed an interrogative or relative pronoun?

One of the lexical similarities between reconstructed Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Uralic is in the interrogative and relative pronouns. For the former, in PIE there's a family of interrogatives ...
11
votes
1answer
229 views

What is the origin of the “redundant” pronouns in the Venetian language?

From the examples taken from Wikipedia: • Venetian: (Ti) te jèra onto or even Ti te jèri/xeri onto (lit. "(You) you were dirty"). • Venetian: El can el jèra onto (lit. "The dog he was dirty"). It ...
10
votes
17answers
2k views

Do any languages form plural pronouns by adding a suffix to the singular form?

Are there languages whose plural pronouns ('we', 'they', etc.) are formed from singular pronouns ('I', 'he', etc.) plus a plural marker? For example, if English were such a language, instead of "we" ...
10
votes
5answers
5k views

Why did English stop using thou?

In Shakespearean English, thou/thee/thy/thine were used for second person singular, and you/your/yours were used for second person plural. In modern English, you is used for both singular and plural. ...
10
votes
1answer
508 views

Universals and emphatic pronouns

In (spoken) English, the object pronouns "me/you/her/him/us/them" are, in some sense, the "unmarked" pronouns. (I only claim native knowledge of English as it is spoken in parts of the US). By this I ...
8
votes
1answer
204 views

Etymology of impersonal pronoun “one”

The 'impersonal' pronoun in Germanic and Romance languages seems to come from one of two paths: Cognate with the word for 'man' Proto-Germanic: *mann- Dutch: men German: man Old English: man (< ...
7
votes
2answers
380 views

Are there any natural languages that mark the distinction between cataphoric and anaphoric pronouns?

Are there any natural languages that mark the distinction between cataphoric and anaphoric pronouns? Just to make sure I got the terms straight, I looked up “cataphora” and its opposite, “anaphora,” ...
7
votes
1answer
571 views

Are there any examples of neopronouns for non-binary or third gender people being fully incorporated into a language's grammar?

Many non-binary people now request that new third person pronouns (neopronouns) be used to refer to them, for example xe or ze. These have not been widely used by English speakers yet, but it's still ...
7
votes
1answer
359 views

Why do PIE verbs have suffixes -m-, -s-, -t-, while personal pronouns have m-, t-, s-?

Usually it is assumed that in PIE the verb forms for the singular first, second, and third person are respectively -m-, -s-, -t- (cfr. Latin). The personal pronouns, instead, have the second and ...
7
votes
2answers
901 views

Personal vs. Demonstrative Pronouns

I've read in a number of places (e.g. Wikipedia) that Proto-Indo-European had first and second-person personal pronouns, but no third-person pronouns. Instead, a system of anaphoric demonstrative ...
6
votes
2answers
487 views

Can the /m/ sound in a 1st person pronoun be considered a linguistic universal?

For example, english: me, mine, my Russian: мне, меня, мой Estonian: mina, mind, mulle How prevalent is this in world's languages and what should it be attributed to?
6
votes
2answers
281 views

Are there languages where pronouns are marked entirely with conjugations?

I know of languages (Arabic in particular comes to mind) where the subject pronoun can be dropped because verb conjugation encodes at least as much information as a pronoun might. I also know that ...
6
votes
2answers
237 views

The meaning of “what”?

"What" is defined grammatically as an interrogative pronoun ... used interrogatively in asking for the specification of an identity, quantity, quality, etc. (Wiktionary) In dictionaries, however, ...
6
votes
3answers
670 views

How does the reaction against gender-specific pronouns relate to a languages' use of gender?

This is a question out of gross ignorance, so I may be way off the mark here. If that's the case, the answer should be easy to provide in the negative. My background I'm an American, I spent the first ...
6
votes
1answer
504 views

How did the Portuguese pronoun “se” take on these other functions?

In Portuguese, the third person accusative pronoun se ("himself/herself/itself/themselves") can be used for four different purposes: 1.) Most straightforwardly, as a reflexive pronoun: Mantém-se ...
6
votes
0answers
60 views

How can you establish that a word is a proform?

A pro-form is a word, substituting for other words, phrases, clauses, or sentences, whose meaning is recoverable from the linguistic or extralinguistic context. But how do you establish a word as a ...
6
votes
2answers
258 views

“She” and “they” in West Germanic languages

In English, the third person singular feminine subject pronoun (she) and the third person plural subject pronoun (they) are phonetically different. However, they are phonetically the same in some West ...
6
votes
0answers
222 views

Is there any dialect of English with clusivity?

What it says on the tin. The closest thing that I'm aware of is in Tok Pisin, a creole language which involved English in its creation, which distinguishes “we without you” (mipela) from “we with you” ...
5
votes
1answer
155 views

What is the name for the phenomenon or process by which the brain knows what “it” in a sentence refers to?

What is the name for the phenomenon or process by which the brain knows what "it" in a sentence refers to ? For example : I left my book on the table but when I came back, IT wasn't there.
5
votes
6answers
2k views

Difference between Genitive Personal Pronoun and Possessive Pronoun

I'm currently studying Icelandic. Right away at one of the first steps I found a bit of difficulty and I wonder if any of you might be able to help me as the question might be answered based on any ...
5
votes
3answers
783 views

Plural form as respect form - based on what?

Many languages use the plural as respected mood for a singular (even English use "you" which is basically a plural form of thu). Now my question is: based on what those who started to speak in ...
5
votes
2answers
945 views

Gender-specific pronouns in languages without grammatical gender?

There are various discussions, also on SE network, about the usage of "gender-neutral" language, where most controversies arise around using the pronoun "he" to address any user. Such problems are ...
5
votes
2answers
157 views

What is the name of this class of grammatical modifiers?

In French (and many other languages), adjectives and pronouns have different classes, e.g.: Adjectives demonstrative indefinite interrogative numerical possessive Pronouns demonstrative indefinite ...
5
votes
1answer
303 views

Is there any fusional language where pronouns and nouns share the same declension?

Some analytic languages sometimes use the same prepositions for nouns and pronouns,e.g. 'I'm proud OF him' vs. 'I'm proud OF his book'. Agglutinative languages may use the same affix for nouns and ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Is 'It' anaphoric or cataphoric, and what is its antecedent/postcedent?

Question 1a: What does 'It' refer to in the following sentence: It was clearly in the mood to place acknowledgements at the bottom of questions. The context for the above sentence is provided in ...
4
votes
2answers
168 views

'm' in the words meaning first person

I have read in a book about the theory that explains why in many languages pronouns meaning first person contain letter 'm' (e.g. me, moi, меня, mich) and pronouns describing second person contain ...
4
votes
1answer
707 views

Is there a language without words which correspond to the concepts 'I', 'They', 'We'

I was wondering if a language exists without the ability to express the notions of 'I', 'We', 'they' etc. Would it be possible to communicate without these concepts being expressible as a ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

Are deictic pronouns at all apparent in written language?

Considering the nature of deixis, I have trouble coming up with written examples where the pronoun is of a deictic nature, other than quotes from speech etc. Or maybe I have misunderstood the meaning ...
4
votes
2answers
107 views

Combining pro-drop with null morphemes

Some languages combine pro-drop with null or zero morphemes – inflectional morphemes, more particularly. Turkish is an example of this. To illustrate, the verb istemek = to want is inflected as ...
4
votes
1answer
335 views

Portuguese: Inconsistencies in use of second person pronouns and conjugation

I observed that both colloquial Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese show some inconsistencies in the way they use the second person pronoun (or its conjugation) and would like to know if my ...
4
votes
1answer
154 views

2nd person convergence in other languages than English

Besides English, is there any other language where the 2nd person singular converges with the second person plural? And is there any other language where the informal singular 2nd person converges ...
4
votes
1answer
70 views

Finnish Indefinite Pronouns [closed]

I'm looking for a native speaker who could give me their opinion about the following sentences: 1.Joku soitti. Arvaa kuka (se oli)? 2.Joku soitti, mutta en saa-nut nime-stä selvää. 3.Hän haluaa ...
4
votes
1answer
164 views

Are first-person and second-person pronouns always co-referential for a given speaker at a given context?

For the first-person singular pronouns, it seems obvious that these pronouns can only refer the speaker, since there is always only one speaker, so it must be always coreferential, as in I(i) took my(...
3
votes
2answers
743 views

Are there other languages where pronouns behave like they do in Japanese, Korean, and Ryukyuan?

In Japanese and Korean (and I have to assume the Okinawan / Ryukyuan languages also), pronouns are quite different from most other languages from most families in at least two ways I can think of: ...
3
votes
2answers
350 views

Did/Do most languages use a similar pronoun to the plural for formal singular?

I don't think the title is super clear, but I couldn't a better way to word it, let me give a few examples From what I understand, the "original" pronouns were English: Singular Informal: Thou ...
3
votes
1answer
78 views

When did the Ivri (Hebrew) possessive pronoun “Shel-y” (של-י) replace the biblical suffix “-y”?

In Modern Hebrew, the possessive pronoun "Shel-y" (של-י) is used for the English possessive pronoun "My". In Biblical Ivri (עברי), the possessive pronoun for "My" is ...
3
votes
1answer
169 views

Have pronoun introductions spread to non-English-speaking communities/languages?

There seem to be two forms of these pronoun introductions, intended to promote transfeminism, one voluntary/declarative and one interrogative: For an example of a voluntary/declarative one: Kamala ...
3
votes
1answer
137 views

How can a pronoun refer to a negative indefinite pronoun?

Optional Foreword: I understand pronouns such as 'none, no one, nobody', if they're the subject of one independent clause. But the quote below (encountered herein) confuses me. I ask here (and not ...