We is correct as the noun 'we' is the subject of the sentence and thus must have the nominative case. Just ask Thomas Jefferson
*Words like her, your and his are sometimes called (possessive) pronouns; other terms are possessive determiner or possessive adjective.
Personal pronouns are pronouns that are associated primarily with a particular grammatical person – first person (as I), second person (as you), or third person (as he, she, it). Personal pronouns may also take different forms depending on number (usually singular or plural), grammatical or natural gender, case, and formality. The term "personal" is used here purely to signify the grammatical sense; personal pronouns are not limited to people and can also refer to animals and objects (as the English personal pronoun it usually does).
The re-use in some languages of one personal pronoun to indicate a second personal pronoun with formality or social distance – commonly a second person plural to signify second person singular formal – is known as the T–V distinction, from the Latin pronouns tu and vos. Examples are the majestic plural in English and the use of "vous" in place of "tu" in French
For specific details of the personal pronouns used in the English language, see English personal pronouns.
Languages typically have personal pronouns for each of the three grammatical persons:
As noted above, within each person there are often different forms for different grammatical numbers, especially singular and plural. Languages which have other numbers, such as dual (e.g. Slovene), may also have distinct pronouns for these.
Some languages distinguish between exclusive and inclusive first-person plural pronouns – those that do and do not include their audience. For example, Tok Pisin has seven first-person pronouns according to number (singular, dual, trial, plural) and clusivity, such as mitripela ("they two and I") and yumitripela ("you two and I"). This is common in languages spoken in traditional societies, such as Quechua and Melanesian languages; it may be related to the existence of moieties in the culture.
Some languages do not have third-person personal pronouns, instead using demonstratives (e.g. Macedonian) or full noun phrases. Latin used demonstratives rather than third-person pronouns (in fact the third-person pronouns in the Romance languages are descended from the Latin demonstratives).
In some cases personal pronouns can be used in place of indefinite pronouns, referring to someone unspecified or to people generally. In English and other languages the second-person pronoun can be used in this way: instead of the formal one should hold one's oar in both hands (using the indefinite pronoun one), it is more common to say you should hold your oar in both hands.
Personal pronouns, particularly those of the third person, may differ depending on the grammatical gender or natural gender of their antecedent or referent. This occurs in English with the third-person singular pronouns, where (simply put) he is used when referring to a male, she to a female, and it to something inanimate or an animal of unspecific sex. This is an example of pronoun selection based on natural gender; many languages also have selection based on grammatical gender (as in French, where the pronouns il and elle are used with masculine and feminine antecedents respectively, as are the plurals ils and elles). Sometimes natural and grammatical gender do not coincide, as with the German noun Mädchen ("girl"), which is grammatically neuter but naturally feminine; either neuter or feminine pronouns may then be used. (See Grammatical gender: Grammatical vs. natural gender for more details.)
Issues may arise when the referent is someone of unspecified or unknown sex. In a language such as English, it is derogatory to use the inanimate pronoun it to refer to a person (except in some cases to a small child), and although it is traditional to use the masculine he to refer to a person of unspecified sex, the movement towards gender-neutral language requires that another method be found, such as saying he or she. A common solution, particularly in informal language, is to use theysingular . For more details see Gender in English.
Similar issues arise in some languages when referring to a group of mixed gender; these are dealt with according to the conventions of the language in question (in French, for example, the masculine ils "they" is used for a group containing both men and women or antecedents of both masculine and feminine gender).
A pronoun can still carry gender even if it does not inflect for it; for example, in the French sentence je suis petit ("I am small") the speaker is male and so the pronoun je is masculine, whereas in je suis petite the speaker is female and the pronoun is treated as feminine, the feminine ending -e consequently being added to the predicate adjective.
On the other hand, many languages originally do not distinguish female & male in the third person pronoun.
Some languages that have/had a non-gender-specific third person pronoun:
Some of these languages started to distinguish gender in the third person pronoun due to influence from European languages.
Mandarin, for example, introduced in the early 20th century a different character for she (她) which is pronounced identically as he (他) and thus still indistinguishable in speech.
Korean geunnyeo (그녀) is found in writing to translate "she" from European languages. In the spoken language it still sounds awkward and rather unnatural.
Many languages have different pronouns, particularly in the second person, depending on the degree of formality or familiarity. It is common for different pronouns to be used when addressing friends, family, children and animals than when addressing superiors and adults with whom the speaker is less familiar. Examples of such languages include French, where the singular tu is used only for familiars, the plural vous being used as a singular in other cases (Russian follows a similar pattern); German, where the third-person plural sie (capitalized as Sie) is used as both singular and plural in the second person in non-familiar uses; and Polish, where the noun pan ("gentleman") and its feminine and plural equivalents are used as polite second-person pronouns. For more details, see T–V distinction.
Some languages, such as Japanese and Korean, have pronouns that reflect deep-seated societal categories. In these languages there is a small set of nouns that refer to the discourse participants, but these referential nouns are not usually used, with proper nouns, deictics, and titles being used instead (and once the topic is understood, usually no explicit reference is made at all). A speaker chooses which word to use depending on the rank, job, age, gender, etc. of the speaker and the addressee. For instance, in formal situations, adults usually refer to themselves as watashi or the even more polite watakushi, while young men may use the student-like boku and police officers may use honkan ("this officer"). In informal situations, women may use the colloquial atashi, and men may use the rougher ore.
Pronouns also often take different forms based on their syntactic function, and in particular on their grammatical case. English distinguishes the nominative form (I, you, he, she, it, we, they), used principally as the subject of a verb, from the oblique form (me, you, him, her, it, us, them), used principally as the object of a verb or preposition. Languages whose nouns inflect for case often inflect their pronouns according to the same case system; for example, German personal pronouns have distinct nominative, genitive, dative and accusative forms (ich, meiner, mir, mich; etc.). Pronouns often retain more case distinctions than nouns – this is true of both German and English, and also of the Romance languages, which (with the exception of Romanian) have lost the Latin grammatical case for nouns, but preserve certain distinctions in the personal pronouns.
Other syntactic types of pronouns which may adopt distinct forms are disjunctive pronouns, used in isolation and in certain distinct positions (such as after a conjunction like and), and prepositional pronouns, used as the complement of a preposition.
Some languages have strong and weak forms of personal pronouns, the former being used in positions with greater stress. Some authors further distinguish weak pronouns from clitic pronouns, which are phonetically less independent.
Examples are found in Polish, where the masculine third-person singular accusative and dative forms are jego and jemu (strong) and go and mu (weak). English has strong and weak pronunciations for some pronouns, such as them (pronounced when strong, but when weak).
Languages may also have reflexive pronouns (and sometimes reciprocal pronouns) closely linked to the personal pronouns. English has the reflexive forms myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves (there is also oneself, from the indefinite pronoun one). These are used mainly to replace the oblique form when referring to the same entity as the subject of the clause; they are also used as intensive pronoun (as in I did it myself).
Personal pronouns are also often associated with possessive forms. English has two sets of such forms: the possessive determiners (also called possessive adjectives) my, your, his, her, its, our and their, and the possessive pronouns mine, yours, his, hers, its (rare), ours, theirs (for more details see English possessive). In informal usage both types of words may be called "possessive pronouns", even though the former kind do not function in place of nouns, but qualify a noun, and thus do not themselves function grammatically as pronouns.
Some languages, such as the Slavic languages, also have reflexive possessives (meaning "my own", "his own", etc.). These can be used to make a distinction from ordinary third-person possessives. For example, in Slovene:
The same phenomenon occurs in the North Germanic languages, such as Danish, which can produce the sentences Anna gav Maria sin bog and Anna gav Maria hendes bog, the distinction being analogous to that in the Slovene example above.
Third-person personal pronouns, and sometimes others, often have an explicit antecedent – a noun phrase which refers to the same person or thing as the pronoun (see anaphora). The antecedent usually precedes the pronoun, either in the same sentence or in a previous sentence (although in some cases the pronoun may come before the antecedent). The pronoun may then be said to "replace" or "stand for" the antecedent, and to be used so as to avoid repeating the antecedent. Some examples:
Sometimes pronouns, even third-person ones, are used without specific antecedent, and the referent has to be deduced from the context. In other cases there may be ambiguity as to what the intended antecedent is:
In some languages, subject or object pronouns can be dropped in certain situations (see Pro-drop language). In particular, in a null-subject language, it is permissible for the subject of a verb to be omitted. Information about the grammatical person (and possibly gender) of the subject may then be provided by the form of the verb. In such languages it is common for personal pronouns to appear in subject position only if they are needed to resolve ambiguity or if they are stressed.
In some cases pronouns are used purely because they are required by the rules of syntax, even though they do not refer to anything; they are then called dummy pronouns. This can be seen in English with the pronoun it in such sentences as it is raining and it is nice to relax. (This is less likely in pro-drop languages, since such pronouns would probably be omitted.)
Personal pronouns are not normally capitalized, except in particular cases. In English the first-person subject pronoun I is always capitalized, and in some Christian texts the personal pronouns referring to Jesus or God are capitalized (He, Thou, etc.).
In many European languages, but not English, the second-person pronouns are often capitalized for politeness when they refer to the person one is writing to (such as in a letter).
For details, see Capitalization: Pronouns.
The personal pronouns in English take various forms according to number, person, case and natural gender. Modern English has very little inflection of nouns or adjectives, to the point where some authors describe it as an analytic language, but the Modern English system of personal pronouns has preserved some of the inflectional complexity of Old English and Middle English.
Unlike nouns, which are undeclined for case except for possession (woman/woman's), English personal pronouns have a number of forms, which are named according to their typical grammatical role in a sentence:
The basic personal pronouns of modern English are shown in the table below. (For the distinction between the forms, see the previous section, and Case usage below.)
Other English pronouns which have distinct forms of the above types are the indefinite pronoun one, which has the reflexive oneself (the possessive form is written one's, like a regular English possessive); and the interrogative and relative pronoun who, which has the objective form whom (now confined mostly to formal English) and the possessive whose (which in its relative use can also serve as the possessive for which).
Apart from the standard forms given above, English also has a number of non-standard, informal and archaic forms of personal pronouns.
A more complete table, including the standard forms and some of the above forms, is given below. Nonstandard, informal and archaic forms are in italics.
* In religious usage, the pronouns He, Him, and His are often capitalized when referring to the deity.
For further archaic forms, and information on the evolution of the personal pronouns of English, see Old English pronouns.
The pronoun you (and its other forms) can be used as a generic or indefinite pronoun, referring to a person in general. A more formal equivalent is the indefinite pronoun one (reflexive oneself, possessive one's). For example, you should keep your secrets to yourself may be used in place of the more formal one should keep one's secrets to oneself.
It and its are normally used to refer to an inanimate object or abstract concept. The masculine pronouns, he and his are used to refer to male persons, while the feminine pronouns, she and her are used to refer to female persons; however babies and young children of indeterminate sex may sometimes be referred to as it (e.g. a child needs its mother).
Traditionally, in English, if the gender of a person was not known or ambiguous, then the masculine pronouns were often used by default (e.g. a good student always does his homework). Increasingly, though, theysingular is coming to be used in such cases (see below).
Animals are often referred to as it, but he and she are sometimes used for animals when the animal's sex is known and is of interest, particularly for higher animals, especially pets and other domesticated animals. Inanimate objects with which humans have a close relationship, such as ships, cars and countries considered as political, rather than geographical, entities, are sometimes referred to as she. This may also be extended to other entities, such as towns.
The plural pronoun they (and its derived forms them, their, etc.) can also be used to refer to one person, particularly when the sex of that person is unknown or unspecified. This is a way of producing gender-neutral language while avoiding disjunctive constructions like he or she, he/she, or s/he .
Even when used with singular meaning, they takes a plural verb: If attacked, the victim should remain exactly where they are.
Some usage writers condemn the use of the singular they, but it is commonly used, both in speech and in writing (e.g. "If a customer requires help, they should contact..."). A consistent pattern of usage can be traced at least as far back as Shakespeare, and possibly even back to Middle English. This usage is authorised and preferred by the Australian Government Manual of Style for official usage in government documents. Those who wish to avoid the use of the "singular they" can sometimes do so by rephrasing the sentence using a plural noun (e.g. "For assistance, customers should contact their...").
As noted above, most of the personal pronouns have distinct case forms – a subjective (nominative) form and an objective (oblique, accusative) form. In certain instances variation arises in the use of these forms.
As a general rule, the subjective form is used when the pronoun is the subject of a verb, as in he kicked the ball, whereas the objective form is used as the direct or indirect object of a verb, or the object (complement) of a preposition. For example: Sue kicked him, someone gave him the ball, Mary was with him.
When used as a predicative expression, i.e. as the complement of a form of the copula verb be, the subjective form was traditionally regarded as more correct (as in this is I, it was he), but nowadays the objective form is used predominantly (this is me, it was him), and the use of the subjective in such instances is normally regarded as very formal or pedantic; it is more likely (in formal English) when followed by a relative clause (it is we who sent them to die). In some cases the subjective may even appear ungrammatical, as in *is that we in the photograph? (where us would be expected).
When a pronoun is linked to other nouns or pronouns by a coordinating conjunction such as and or or, traditional grammar prescribes that the pronoun should appear in the same form as it would take if it were used alone in the same position: Jay and I will arrive later (since I is used for the subject of a verb), but between you and me (since me is used for the object of a preposition). However in informal and less careful usage this rule may not be consistently followed; it is common to hear Jay and me will arrive... and between you and I. The latter type (use of the subjective form in object position) is seen as an example of hypercorrection, resulting from an awareness that many instances of and me (like that in the first example) are considered to require correction to and I.
Similar deviations from the grammatical norm are quite common in other examples where the pronoun does not stand alone as the subject or object, as in Who said us Yorkshiremen [grammatical: we Yorkshiremen] are tight?
When a pronoun stands alone without an explicit verb or preposition, the objective form is commonly used, even when traditional grammarians might prefer the subjective: Who's sitting here? Me. (Here I might be regarded as grammatically correct, since it is short for I am (sitting here), but it would sound formal and pedantic, unless followed by am.)
A particular case of this type occurs when a pronoun stands alone following the word than. Here the objective form is again predominant in informal usage (they are older than us), as would be expected if than were analyzed as a preposition. However traditionally than is considered a conjunction, and so in formal and grammatically careful English the pronoun often takes the form that would appear if than were followed by a clause: they are older than we (by analogy with ...than we are), but she likes him better than me (if the intended meaning is "...than she likes me").
For more examples of some of these points, see Disjunctive pronoun.
A dummy pronoun, also called an expletive pronoun or pleonastic pronoun, is a type of pronoun used in non-pro-drop languages, such as English. It is used when a particular verb argument (or preposition) is nonexistent (it could also be unknown, irrelevant, already understood, or otherwise "not to be spoken of directly"), but when a reference to the argument (a pronoun) is nevertheless syntactically required.
For instance, in the phrase, It is obvious that the violence will continue, it is a dummy pronoun, not referring to any agent. Unlike a regular pronoun of English, it cannot be replaced by any noun phrase (except for, rhetorically permitting, something like 'the state of affairs' or 'the fact of the matter'.)
The term dummy pronoun refers to the function of a word in a particular sentence, not a property of individual words. For example, it in the example from the previous paragraph is a dummy pronoun, but it in the sentence I bought a sandwich and ate it is a referential pronoun (referring to the sandwich).
In the phrase It is raining, the verb to rain is usually considered semantically impersonal, even though it appears as syntactically intransitive; in this view, the required it is to be considered a dummy word.
However, there have been a few objections to this interpretation. Noam Chomsky has argued that the it employed as the subject of English weather verbs ("weather it", so called because of its predominant use in reference to weather) can control an adjunct clause, just like a "normal" subject. For example, compare:
If this analysis is accepted, then the "weather it" is to be considered a "quasi-(verb) argument" and not a dummy word.
Some linguists like D.L. Bolinger go even further and claim that the "weather it" simply refers to a general state of affairs in the context of utterance. In this case, it would not be a dummy word at all. Possible evidence for this claim includes exchanges such as:
Other examples of semantically empty it are found with raising verbs in "unraised" counterparts. For example:
Dummy it can also be found in extraposition constructions in English such as in the following:
In English, dummy object pronouns tend to serve an ad hoc function, applying with less regularity than they do as subjects. Dummy objects are sometimes used to transform transitive verbs to transitive light verbs form, e.g. do → do it, "to engage in sexual intercourse"; make → make it, "to achieve success"; get → get it, "to comprehend". Prepositional objects are similar, e.g. with it, "up to date"; out of it, "dazed" or "not thinking". All of these phrases, of course, can also be taken literally. For instance:
It has been proposed that elements like expletive there in existential sentences and pro in inverse copular sentences play the role of dummy predicate rather than dummy subject so that the postverbal Noun Phrase would rather be the embedded subject of the sentence. See copula and sentence.
A dummy pronoun may be conventionally of a particular gender, even though there is no gendered noun for it to agree with. See Grammatical gender: Dummy pronouns.
Agreement or concord happens when a word changes form depending on the other words to which it relates. It is an instance of inflection, and usually involves making the value of some grammatical category (such as gender or person) "agree" between different words or parts of the sentence.
For example, in Standard English, one may say I am or he is, but not "I is" or "he am". This is because the grammar of the language requires that the verb and its subject agree in person. The pronouns I and he are first and third person respectively, as are the verb forms am and is. The verb form must be selected so that it has the same person as the subject.
The agreement based on overt grammatical categories as above is formal agreement, in contrast to notional agreement, which is based on meaning. For instance, the phrase The United States is treated as singular for purposes of agreement, even though it is formally plural.
Agreement generally involves matching the value of some grammatical category between different constitutents of a sentence (or sometimes between sentences, as in some cases where a pronoun is required to agree with its antecedent or referent). Some categories that commonly trigger grammatical agreement are noted below.
Agreement based on grammatical person is found mostly between verb and subject. An example from English (I am vs. he is) has been given in the introduction to this article.
Agreement between pronoun (or corresponding possessive adjective) and antecedent also requires the selection of the correct person. For example, if the antecedent is the first person noun phrase Mary and I, then a first person pronoun (we/us/our) is required; however most noun phrases (the dog, my cats, Jack and Jill, etc.) are third person, and are replaced by a third person pronoun (he/she/it/they etc.).
Agreement based on grammatical number can occur between verb and subject, as in the case of grammatical person discussed above. In fact the two categories are often conflated within verb conjugation patterns: there are specific verb forms for first person singular, second person plural and so on. Some examples:
Again as with person, there is agreement in number between pronouns (or their corresponding possessives) and antecedents:
Agreement also occurs between nouns and their modifiers, in some situations. This is common in languages such as French, where articles, determiners and adjectives (both attributive and predicative) agree in number with the nouns they qualify:
In English this is not such a common feature, although there are certain determiners that occur specifically with singular or plural nouns only:
In languages in which grammatical gender plays a significant role, there is often agreement in gender between a noun and its modifiers. For example, in French:
Such agreement is also found with predicate adjectives: l'homme est grand ("the man is big") vs. la chaise est grande ("the chair is big"). (However in some languages, such as German, this is not the case; only attributive modifiers show agreement.)
In the case of verbs, gender agreement is less common, although it may still occur. For example, in the French compound past tense, the past participle agrees in certain circumstances with the subject or with an object (see passé composé for details). In Russian and most other Slavic languages, the form of the past tense agrees in gender with the subject.
There is also agreement in gender between pronouns and antecedents. Examples of this can be found in English (although English pronouns principally follow natural gender rather than grammatical gender):
For more detail see Gender in English.
In languages that have a system of cases, there is often agreement by case between a noun and its modifiers. For example, in German:
In fact the modifiers of nouns in languages such as German and Latin agree with their nouns in number, gender and case; all three categories are conflated together in paradigms of declension.
Case agreement is not a significant feature of English (only personal pronouns and the pronoun who have any case marking). Agreement between such pronouns can sometimes be observed:
Languages can have no conventional agreement whatsoever, as in Japanese or Malay; barely any, as in English; a small amount, as in spoken French; a moderate amount, as in Greek or Latin; or a large amount, as in Swahili.
Modern English does not have a particularly large amount of agreement, although it is present.
All regular verbs (and nearly all irregular ones) in English agree in the third-person singular of the present indicative by adding a suffix of either -s or -es. The latter is generally used after stems ending in the sibilants sh, ch, ss or zz (e.g. he rushes, it lurches, she amasses, it buzzes.)
Present tense of to love:
There are not many irregularities in this formation:
The highly irregular verb to be is the only verb with more agreement than this in the present tense.
Present tense of to be:
Future tense of "to be":
Emphatic future tense of "to be":
Note: the use of shall and the use of the emphatic tense are rare in Standard English.
In English, defective verbs generally show no agreement for person or number, they include the modal verbs: can, may, shall, will, must, should, ought.
In Early Modern English agreement existed for the second person singular of all verbs in the present tense, as well as in the past tense of some common verbs. This was usually in the form -est, but -st and -t also occurred. Note that this does not affect the endings for other persons and numbers.
Example present tense forms: thou wilt, thou shalt, thou art, thou hast, thou canst. Example past tense forms: thou wouldst, thou shouldst, thou wast, thou hadst, thou couldst
Note also the agreement shown by to be even in the subjunctive mood.
Imperfect subjunctive of to be in Early modern English:
However, for nearly all regular verbs, a separate thou form was no longer commonly used in the past tense. Thus the auxiliary verb to do is used, e.g. thou didst help, not thou helpedst.
Compared with English, Latin (and Romance languages like Spanish and Italian) is an example of a highly inflected language. The consequences for agreement are thus:
Verbs must agree in person and number, and sometimes in gender, with their subjects. Articles and adjectives must agree in case, number and gender with the nouns they modify.
Sample Latin (Spanish) verb: the present indicative active of portare (llevar), to carry:
Note also that the inflectional endings mean it is not necessary to include the subject pronoun, except for emphasis, or to avoid ambiguity in complex sentences. For this reason, Latin is described as a null-subject language.
Spoken French always distinguishes the first person plural and the second person plural from each other and from the rest of the present tense in all verbs in the first conjugation (infinitives in -er) other than "aller". In most verbs from the other conjugations, each person in the plural can be distinguished among themselves and from the singular forms. The other endings that appear in written French (i.e.: all singular endings, and also the third person plural of verbs other than those with infinitives in -er) are often pronounced the same, except in liaison contexts. Irregular verbs such as être, faire, aller, and avoir possess more distinctly pronounced agreement forms than regular verbs.
An example of this is the verb "travailler", which goes as follows (the forms in bold type sound /travaj/):
On the other hand, a verb like "partir" has:
Again, the forms in bold type sound alike (the final S or T is silent), and the other three forms sound differently from one another and from the singular forms.
However in liaison contexts, the final consonant is pronounced, helping differentiate at least "part" from "pars".] [
Adjectives agree in gender and number with the nouns they modify in French. As with verbs, forms that are written with different agreement suffixes are sometimes pronounced the same (e.g. joli, jolie), although in many cases the final consonant is pronounced in feminine forms, but silent in masculine forms (e.g. petit vs. petite). Most plural forms end in -s, but this consonant is only pronounced in liaison contexts, and it is determinants that help understand if the singular or plural is meant. The participles of verbs agree in gender and number with the subject or object in some instances.
Articles, possessives and other determinants also decline for number and (only in the singular) for gender, with plural determinants being the same for both genders. This normally produces three forms: one for masculine singular nouns, one for feminine singular nouns, and another for plural nouns of either gender:
Notice that some of the above also change (in the singular) if the following word begins with a vowel: le and la become l′, du and de la become de l′, ma becomes mon (as if the noun were masculine) and ce becomes cet.
In Hungarian, verbs have polypersonal agreement, which means they agree with more than one of the verb's arguments: not only its subject but also its (accusative) object. Difference is made between the case when there is a definite object and the case when the object is indefinite or there is no object at all. (The adverbs do not affect the form of the verb.) Examples: Szeretek (I love somebody or something unspecified), szeretem (I love him, her, it, or them, specifically), szeretlek (I love you); szeret (he loves me, us, you, someone, or something unspecified), szereti (he loves her, him, it, or them specifically). Of course, nouns or pronouns may specify the exact object. In short, there is agreement between a verb and the person and number of its subject and the specificity of its object (which often refers to the person more or less exactly).
The predicate agrees in number with the subject and if it is copulative (i.e., it consists of a noun/adjective and a linking verb), both parts agree in number with the subject. For example: A könyvek érdekesek voltak "The books were interesting" ("a": the, "könyv": book, "érdekes": interesting, "voltak": were): the plural is marked on the subject as well as both the adjectival and the copulative part of the predicate.
Within noun phrases, adjectives do not show agreement with the noun, e.g. a szép könyveitekkel "with your nice books" ("szép": nice): the suffixes of the plural, the possessive "your" and the case marking "with" are only marked on the noun.
Most Slavic languages are highly inflected, except for Bulgarian and Macedonian. The agreement is similar to Latin, for instance between adjectives and nouns in gender, number, case and animacy (if counted as a separate category). The following examples are from Serbian:
Verbs have 6 different forms in the present tense, for three persons in singular and plural. As in Latin, subject is frequently dropped.
Another characteristics is agreement in participles, which have different forms for different genders:
Swahili, like all other Bantu languages, has numerous noun classes. Verbs must agree in class with their subjects and objects, and adjectives with the nouns that they qualify. For example: Kitabu kimoja kitatosha (One book will be enough), Mchungwa mmoja utatosha (One orange-tree will be enough), Chungwa moja litatosha (One orange will be enough).
There is also agreement in number. For example: Vitabu viwili vitatosha (Two books will be enough), Michungwa miwili itatosha (Two orange-trees will be enough), Machungwa mawili yatatosha (Two oranges will be enough).
Class and number are indicated with prefixes (or sometimes their absence), which are not always the same for nouns, adjectives and verbs, as illustrated by the examples.
In grammar, an antecedent is a noun, noun phrase, or clause to which an anaphor refers in a coreference. For example, in the passage "I did not see Anjan because he wasn't there", "Anjan" is the antecedent of the anaphor "he"; together "Anjan" and "he" are called a coreference because they both refer to the same thing (in this case, a particular person). The word "antecedent" begins with the prefix "ante-", meaning "before", because almost always the antecedent occurs before the anaphor.
In the examples in this article, antecedents are in bold and anaphors in italics.
Use with relative pronouns
Antecedents are used in connection with relative pronouns; the pronoun usually opens the relative clause, but the antecedent is located in the main clause:
Sometimes the relative pronoun anaphor may not appear, but may be implied by syntactic principles; this is called a zero anaphor
An example for an interrogative pronoun without an antecedent is "what did Bob have for lunch?"
In the following example the antecedent is separated from the anaphor by the verb.
Different languages allow separation of the anaphor from the antecedent to varying degrees. For example, in Arabic and Hebrew it is not permitted at all (the antecedent must always come right before the relative pronoun or conjunction or clause), in English it is used to avoid awkward constructions, and in German such separation is frequent due to the practice of shunting the verb to the end of the sentence.
Occasionally the antecedent may be preceded by its anaphor:
If they are careful, people don't make that mistake.
An error in writing which leads to confusion in the reader is the use of a pronoun for which the antecedent is not clear, as in the following example:
I met "John" and "Mike" at the party. "He" told me about "his" new friend.
Without additional information, the reader cannot tell whether the antecedent of "he" and "his" is John or Mike. It is completely unclear, and needs additional information.
Occasionally, the antecedent may be missing from the discourse, as when someone wonders out loud: "I wonder where I put it", with no clear antecedent for the pronoun "it."
Sometimes an antecedent may not occur in the current discourse but instead refer to an object familiar to both speaker and listener; for example, in "They always get their man" the unspecified antecedent of "they" could be "the cops" when the sentence is spoken by and to people who often refer to it. In this case, the antecedent is clear to an "insider" but unclear to an "outsider".
A possessive form is a word or grammatical construction used to indicate a relationship of possession in a broad sense.
Possessive forms that occur with a noun and indicate the possessor of the referent of that noun, thus serving as determiners or adjectives, are called possessive determiners or possessive adjectives (see Terminology below). Examples include the English words my and Jane's as used in the phrases my friends and Jane's work.
Possessive forms that indicate the possessor of something but occur independently, without qualifying a noun, are called possessive pronouns. Examples in English include the words mine and yours as in mine is red and I prefer yours. Forms such as Jane's in I prefer Jane's perform the same function, though they are more rarely described as possessive pronouns, being derived from nouns.
Nouns or pronouns taking the form of a possessive are sometimes described as being in the possessive case, although the description of possessives as constituting a grammatical case in languages like English is often disputed. A more commonly used term in describing the grammar of various languages is genitive case, though this usually denotes a case with a broader range of functions than just producing possessive forms. Some languages occasionally use the dative case to denote the possessor, as in the Serbo-Croatian kosa mu je gusta "his hair is thick" (literally "the hair to him is thick", where "to him" is the dative pronoun mu).
Some languages, such as the Cariban languages, can be said to have a possessed case, used to indicate the other party (the thing possessed) in a possession relationship. A similar feature found in some languages is the possessive affix, usually a suffix, added to the (possessed) noun to indicate the possessor, as in the Finnish taloni ("my house") and Hungarian háza ("his/her house"), formed from talo and ház (the respective nouns meaning "house"). In Hungarian this affix is also used when the possessor is represented by a full noun – "Peter's house" may be translated either as Péter háza (literally "Peter his-house"), or with an additional dative marker on the possessor noun: Péternek a háza ("to-Peter the his-house").
The glossing abbreviation or may be used to indicate possessive forms.
It is common for languages to have independent possessive determiners (adjectives) and possessive pronouns corresponding to the personal pronouns of the language. For example, to the English personal pronouns I, you, he, she, it, we, they, there correspond the respective possessive determiners my, your, his, her, its, our and their, and the respective possessive pronouns mine, yours, his, hers, its (rare), ours and theirs. In some instances there is no difference in form between the determiner and the pronoun; examples include the English his (and its), and informal Finnish meiän (meaning either "our" or "ours").
In some languages, possessive determiners are subject to agreement with the noun they modify, and possessive pronouns may be subject to agreement with their antecedent, in terms of relevant categories of gender, number and case. For example, French has mon, ma, mes, respectively the masculine singular, feminine singular and plural forms corresponding to the English my, as well as the various possessive pronoun forms le mien, la mienne, les mien(ne)s corresponding to English mine.
Since personal pronouns may also agree in number and gender with their own antecedent or referent, the possessive forms may consequently show agreement with either the "possessor" or the "possessed", or both. In French (and most other Romance languages) the third-person singular possessives do not indicate the gender of the possessor, although they agree with the possessed (son, sa and ses can all mean either "his", "her" or "its"). This contrasts with English and standard Dutch, where the form of the possessives (his, her, its; zijn, haar) indicates the grammatical or natural gender of the possessor, but does not depend on properties of the possessed. However German and several Dutch dialects additionally inflect their possessives, thus giving agreement with both possessor and possessed; German has sein and ihr meaning "his" and "her" respectively, but these inflect to give (for example) feminine forms like seine and ihre, depending on the gender (and number and case) of the thing possessed.
In languages that have a genitive case, the possessive forms corresponding to pronouns may or may not resemble the genitive of those pronouns. For example, in Russian, the genitive of я ja "I" is меня menya ("of me"), whereas the corresponding possessive is мой moy ("my, mine", in masculine singular nominative form). In German the two sets of forms are quite similar (for example, the genitive of ich "I" is meiner, the corresponding possessive pronoun is also meiner in the masculine singular nominative, and the possessive determiner is mein with various endings).
Some languages have no distinct possessive determiners as such, instead using a pronoun together with a possessive particle – a grammatical particle used to indicate possession. For example, in Japanese, "my" or "mine' can be expressed as watashi no, where watashi means "I" and no is the possessive particle. Similarly in Mandarin Chinese, "my" or "mine" is wǒ de, where wǒ means "I" and de is the possessive particle.
An alternative to the pronominal possessive determiner, found in some languages, is the possessive affix, such as the suffix -ni meaning "my" in Finnish, used in constructions such as taloni "my house" (from talo "house").
Pronouns other than personal pronouns, if they have possessive forms, are likely to form them in a similar way to nouns (see below). In English, for example, possessive forms derived from other pronouns include one's, somebody's and nobody's. There is however a distinct form whose for the possessive of the interrogative and relative pronoun who; other languages may have similarly functioning words, such as the Russian чей chey ("whose?"). Another possessive found in Russian and other Slavic languages is the reflexive possessive, corresponding to the general reflexive pronoun; the Russian form is свой svoj (meaning "one's (own)", "my (own)", etc.).
In some languages, possessives are formed from nouns or noun phrases. In English, this is done using the ending -'s, as in Jane's, heaven's, the boy's, those men's, or sometimes just an apostrophe, as in workers', Jesus', the soldiers'. Note that the ending can be added at the end of a noun phrase even when the phrase does not end with its head noun, as in the king of England's; this property inclines many linguists towards the view that the ending is a clitic rather than a case ending (see below, and further at English possessive).
In languages that have a genitive case, the genitive form of a noun may sometimes be used as a possessive (as in German Karls Haus "Karl's house").
Languages such as Japanese form possessive constructions with nouns using possessive particles, in the same way as described for pronouns above, for example neko no iro ("the cat's color", where neko means "cat", no is the particle, and iro means "color").
In other languages noun possessives must be formed periphrastically, as in French la plume de ma tante ("my aunt's pen", literally "the pen of my aunt"). In Hungarian, the construction Mária háza is used ("Maria's house", literally "Maria her house", where the final -a in háza is the possessive suffix meaning "her"). See also the example in the introduction to this article.
Possessive determiners (adjectives) are used in combination with a noun, playing the role of a determiner or attributive adjective. In English and some other languages, the use of such a word implies the definite article. For example, my car implies the car that belongs to me/is used by me; it is not correct to precede possessives with an article (*the my car) or other definite determiner such as a demonstrative (*this my car), although they can combine with quantifiers in the same ways that the can (all my cars, my three cars, etc.; see English determiners). This is not the case in all languages; for example in Italian the possessive is usually preceded by another determiner such as an article, as in la mia macchina ("my car", literally "the my car") or quel tuo libro ("that book of yours", literally "that your book").
Some languages place the possessive after the noun, as in Norwegian boka mi ("my book"). Here again the equivalent of the definite article – in this case the definite ending -a on the noun bok – is used in addition to the possessive.
Possessive determiners may be modified with an adverb, as adjectives are, although not as freely or as commonly as is the case with adjectives. Such modification is generally limited to such adverbs as more, less, or as much ... as (comparative) or mostly (superlative), for example in This is more my team than your team and This is mostly my team.
Possessive pronouns are generally used on their own, playing the role of noun phrases, so mine may stand for "my cat", "my sister", "my things", etc. In some languages these may require articles or other determiners, as the French le mien etc. In English, the -'s possessives formed from nouns or noun phrases (though not always called possessive pronouns) behave in the same way; the president's may stand for "the president's office", "the president's policies", etc.
A related use is that of the predicative expression, as in sentences like the book is mine. Here mine may be considered to be a predicate adjective (like red in the book is red) rather than a pronoun; in English, however, the same possessive form is used anyway. Other languages may use differing forms; for example French may use ...est à moi for "...is mine".
A particular use of possessive pronouns (and equivalent noun forms) in English is that illustrated in phrases like a friend of mine and that coat of Fred's, used to form possessive expressions when the desired determiner is something other than the default the implied in the usual possessive determiner.
The terminology used for possessive words and phrases is not consistent among all grammarians and linguists.
What some authors refer to as possessives, others may call genitives. Most commonly, however, the term genitive is used in relation to languages with a developed case system (in which the "genitive case" often has a wider range of functions than merely forming possessives), while in languages like English, where their status as a grammatical case is doubtful, such words are usually called possessives rather than genitives. A given language may have distinct genitive and possessive forms, as in the example of Russian given above. (The English possessive in -'s is sometimes called the Saxon genitive; this alludes to its derivation from the genitive case that existed in Old English.)
Words like the English my and your have traditionally been called possessive adjectives. However, some modern linguists note that in a language such as English they behave like determiners rather than true adjectives (see examples in the Syntax section above), and thus prefer to call them possessive determiners. In some other languages, however, the equivalent words behave more like true adjectives (compare the Italian example above, for instance).
While for many authors the term possessive pronoun is reserved (as in this article) for possessives like mine and yours which do not qualify an explicit noun, the term is sometimes taken also to include other possessive forms that correspond to pronouns, such as my and your. This is in spite of the fact that the latter words do not behave grammatically as pronouns, in the sense that they do not substitute directly for a noun or noun phrase.
Some authors who classify both sets of words as possessive pronouns or genitive pronouns apply the terms dependent/independent or weak/strong to refer, respectively, to my, your, etc. and mine, yours, etc. Thus my is termed a dependent (or weak) possessive pronoun, while mine is an independent (or strong) possessive pronoun.
Some theorists regard the possessive in certain languages (including English) as representing a grammatical case, called the possessive case or else identified as the genitive case. Others reject this, however, since possessive forms do not generally behave in a parallel fashion to what are normally identified as cases. In particular, in English, as noted above, the -'s can attach to noun phrases even when they do not end with their head noun, as in the king of Spain's, which is not typical behavior for a case ending. For further discussion of this issue, see English possessive: Status of the possessive as a grammatical case.
The relationship expressed by possessive determiners and similar forms is not necessarily one of possession in the strict sense of ownership. The "possessor" may be, for example:
For more examples, see Possession (linguistics) and English possessive: Semantics.
In linguistics, demonstratives are often deictic words (they depend on an external frame of reference) that indicate which entities the speaker refers to and distinguishes those entities from others. Demonstratives are employed for spatial deixis (using the context of the physical surroundings of the speaker and sometimes the listener), but also in intra-discourse reference - so called "discourse deixis" (including abstract concepts) or anaphora, where the meaning is dependent on something other than the relative physical location of the speaker, for example whether something is currently being said or was said earlier.
The demonstratives in English are this, that, these, those, yonder, and the archaic yon, along with this one or that one as substitutes for the pronoun use of this or that.
Many languages, such as English and Chinese, make a two-way distinction between demonstratives. Typically, one set of demonstratives is proximal, indicating objects close to the speaker (English this), and the other series is distal, indicating objects further removed from the speaker (English that).
Other languages, like Spanish, Portuguese, Armenian, Serbo-Croatian, Macedonian, Georgian and Basque, make a three-way distinction. Typically there is a distinction between proximal or first person (objects near to the speaker), medial or second person (objects near to the addressee), and distal or third person (objects far from both). Italian also provided for a medial (codesto/codesta for things, costui/costei for people), but it fell out of use in the 19th century (though it's still commonly used in Tuscany). So for example, in Portuguese:
in Armenian (based on the proximal "s", medial "d/t", and distal "n"):
and, in Georgian:
and, in Ukrainian (note that Ukrainian has not only number, but also three grammatical genders in singular):
Japanese, Spanish, Tamil and Seri also make this distinction. French has a two-way distinction, with the use of postpositions "-ci" (proximal) and "-là" (distal) as in cet homme-ci and cet homme-là, as well as the pronouns ce and cela/ça. English has an archaic but occasionally used three-way distinction of this, that, and yonder.
Arabic makes the same two-way distinction as English. For example هذه البنت (haðihi l-bint) 'this girl' versus تلك البنت (tilka l-bint) 'that girl'.
In Modern German (and the Scandinavian languages), the demonstrative is generally distance-neutral, and the deictic value may be defined more precisely by means of adverbs:
A distal demonstrative exists in German, cognate to the English yonder, but it is used only in formal registers.
There are languages which make a four-way distinction, such as Northern Sami:
These four-way distinctions are often termed proximal, mesioproximal, mesiodistal, and distal.
Many non-European languages make further distinctions; for example, whether the object referred to is uphill or downhill from the speaker, whether the object is visible or not (as in Malagasy), and whether the object can be pointed to as a whole or only in part. The Eskimo–Aleut languages, and the Kiranti branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family are particularly well known for their many contrasts.
The demonstratives in Seri are compound forms based on the definite articles (themselves derived from verbs) and therefore incorporate the positional information of the articles (standing, sitting, lying, coming, going) in addition to the three-way spatial distinction. This results in a quite elaborated set of demonstratives.
Latin had several sets of demonstratives, including hic, haec, hoc ("this near me"); ille, illa, illud ("that over there"); and iste, ista, istud ("that near you") – note that Latin has not only number, but also three grammatical genders. The second set of Latin demonstratives (ille, etc.), developed into the definite articles in most Romance languages, such as el, la, los, las in Spanish, and le, la, les in French.
Although, with the exception of Romanian and some varieties of Spanish and Portuguese, the neuter gender has been lost in the Romance languages. Spanish and Portuguese have kept neuter demonstratives:
Some forms of Spanish (Caribbean Spanish, Andalusian Spanish, etc.) and Portuguese (Brazilian Portuguese) also occasionally employ ello (Sp.), elo (Port.), which is an archaic survival of the neuter pronoun from Latin illud.
Neuter demonstratives refer to ideas of indeterminate gender, such as abstractions and groups of heterogeneous objects.
Classical Chinese had three main demonstrative pronouns: proximal 此 (this), distal 彼 (that), and distance-neutral 是 (this or that). The frequent use of 是 as a resumptive demonstrative pronoun that reasserted the subject before a noun predicate caused it to develop into its colloquial use as a copula by the Han period and subsequently its standard use as a copula in Modern Standard Chinese. Modern Mandarin has two main demonstratives, proximal 這 and distal 那; its use of the three Classical demonstratives has become mostly idiomatic, although 此 continues to be used with some frequency in modern written Chinese.
Hungarian has two spatial demonstratives: ez (this) and az (that). These inflect for number and case even in attributive position (attributes usually remain uninflected in Hungarian) with possible orthographic changes; e.g., ezzel (with this), abban (in that). A third degree of deixis is also possible in Hungarian, with the help of the am- prefix: amaz (that there). The use of this, however, is emphatic (when the speaker wishes to emphasize the distance) and not mandatory.
The Cree language has a special demonstrative for "things just gone out of sight," and Ilocano, a language of the Philippines, has three words for this referring to a visible object, a fourth for things not in view and a fifth for things that no longer exist."
It is relatively common for a language to distinguish between demonstrative determiners (or demonstrative adjectives, determinative demonstratives) and demonstrative pronouns (or independent demonstratives).
A demonstrative determiner modifies a noun:
A demonstrative pronoun stands on its own, replacing rather than modifying a noun:
There are five demonstrative pronouns in English: this, that, these, those, and the less common yon or yonder (the latter is usually employed as a demonstrative determiner; even so it is rarely used in most dialects of English, although it persists in some dialects such as Southern American English.). Author Bill Bryson laments the "losses along the way" of yon and yonder:
Many languages have sets of demonstrative adverbs that are closely related to the demonstrative pronouns in a language. For example, corresponding to the demonstrative pronoun that are the adverbs such as then (= "at that time"), there (= "at that place"), thither (= "to that place"), thence (= "from that place"); equivalent adverbs corresponding to the demonstrative pronoun this are now, here, hither, hence. A similar relationship exists between the interrogative pronoun what and the interrogative adverbs when, where, whither, whence. See pro-form for a full table.
As mentioned above, while the primary function of demonstratives is to provide spatial references of concrete objects (that (building), this (table)), there is a secondary function: referring to items of discourse. For example:
In the above, this sentence refers to the sentence being spoken, and the pronoun this refers to what is about to be spoken; that way refers to "the previously mentioned way", and the pronoun that refers to the content of the previous statement. These are abstract entities of discourse, not concrete objects. Each language may have subtly different rules on how to use demonstratives to refer to things previously spoken, currently being spoken, or about to be spoken. In English, that (or occasionally those) refers to something previously spoken, while this (or occasionally these) refers to something about to be spoken (or, occasionally, something being simultaneously spoken).][