English personal pronouns
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English has a number of personal pronouns, used to indicate the person, number, and/or gender of their antecedents and referents. They are shown below, together with their possessive-pronoun and -adjective counterparts. Reflexive pronouns are used as the object of a sentence when the subject and object match; they are also used as intensive pronouns to emphasize a participant, as in "You yourself told me that." Possessive pronouns and adjectives are used to show ownership.
- Historically, my was sometimes changed to mine before a vowel. (Similarly with thy and thine; see note 3.)
- The forms of we are also sometimes used with a singular sense. When this is the case, they take a plural verb, but ourselves is often changed to ourself.
- Historically, there were separate informal second-person singular forms — thou, thee, thyself, thy, and thine — but today they have all but disappeared from Standard English (though a few dialects retain them).
- Historically, you was an object pronoun, and ye was its subject-pronoun counterpart; today, you fills both roles in Standard English, though some dialects use ye for both roles, and some use ye as a clipped or clitic form of you.
- While formal Standard English uses you for both singular and plural, many dialects use various special forms for the plural, such as y'all (short for "you all"), you guys, yinz (short for "you ones"), and yous (also spelled youse). Corresponding reflexive and possessive pronouns are often used as well.
- The forms of you are also sometimes used with the sense of the pronoun one; see Generic you.
- Historically, his was the possessive of it as well of he; nowadays it has been completely supplanted by its.
- Historically the forms they, their, and them are of Scandinavian origin (from the Viking invasions and settlement in northeastern England during the Danelaw period from the 9th to the 11th centuries).
- The forms of they are also sometimes used with grammatically or semantically singular antecedents, though it is a matter of some dispute whether and when such usage is acceptable; see Singular they. When this is the case, they take a plural verb, but themselves with a singular sense is often changed to themself.
"It is me"
In some languages, a personal pronoun has a form called a disjunctive pronoun, which is used when it stands on its own, or with only a copula, such as in answering to the question "Who wrote this page?" English pronouns used in this way have caused some dispute. The natural answer for most English speakers in this context would be "me" (or "It's me"), parallel to moi (or C'est moi) in French. Some grammarians have argued and persuaded some educators that the correct answer should be "I" or "It is I" because "is" is a linking verb and "I" is a predicate nominative, and up until a few centuries ago spoken English used pronouns in the subjective case in such sentences. However, since English has lost noun inflection and now relies on word order, using the accusative me after the verb be like other verbs seems very natural to modern speakers. The phrase "It is I" historically came from the Middle English "It am I" and the change from "am" to "is" was also a step to the fixed word order of SVO.
- Wiktionary table of personal pronouns
- Personal pronoun
- Singular they
- Pluralis majestatis
- ^ Dissertation by Elise Morse-Gagne. 2006. Pronouns in England: Charting the course of THEY, THEIR, and THEM.