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What is a pronoun?



A pronoun is a pro-form which functions like a noun and substitutes for a noun or noun phrase.


A language may have several classes of pronouns.


Here are some features found in various pronominal systems:

  • Person (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th)
  • Number (singular, duo, trio, quadral and plural)
  • Inclusion (inclusive, exclusive)
  • Gender (masculine, feminine, and neuter)
  • Semantic class
  • Morphological class
  • Grammatical relation (subject, object; ergative, absolutive…)
  • Semantic role (agent, patient…)
  • Usage (formal or informal, regular or honorific)
  • Spatial and temporal position
Examples (English)
  • Personal pronouns (I, they)
  • Reflexive pronouns (herself)
  • Demonstrative pronouns (this)
  • Interrogative pronouns (who, which) in questions)
  • Relative pronouns (who, which in relative clauses)
  A pronoun is a kind of

Crystal 1980 287


Hartmann and Stork 1972 186


Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, and Svartvik 1985 335


Mish 1991 942

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Go to SIL home page This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 5.0 published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 2003. [Ordering information.]

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