Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

(15) Pronouns.

(Types of Pronouns; Their Formal and Semantic Properties; Their Syntactic Functions).

(15.1) Characteristics of Pronouns

(15.1.1) Pronouns versus Nouns

- pronouns = replace nouns/noun phrases => lack a lexical meaning of their own

- PRO in contrast to N

(a) semantics

- a closed class system

(b) morphology

- case contrast for subject x object case

- person distinction

- gender contrast

(c) syntax

- determiners

- nominals

- functions of ADJ

- functions of ADV

(15.1.2) Grammatical Categories

- case, gender, number, person

(1) case

- N: common case x morphologically marked possessive case

- PRO: marked subject case x object case x possessive case (possessive PRO)

- x you and it not marked for case

- formal: PRO following the verb be, i.e. not followed by the finite V form > subject case

- x colloquial: ... > object case: it's all right, it's only me

(2) gender

- manifested in 3rd person SG personal/reflexive/possessive PRO

- relative/interrogative PRO: personal (who) x non-personal gender (which)

(3) number

- manifested in special lexical entry: I > we; he/she/it > they

- x exceptional regular PL formation by the –(e)s ending: yourself > yourselves; other > others; one > ones

- demonstrative PRO: SG this > PL these; SG that > PL those

(4) person

- manifested in personal/reflexive/possessive PRO

- 1st person = the speaker

- 2nd person = the addressee

- 3rd person = "the rest"

- colloquial: you/they = also with the meaning of a general human agent (you change three times/where do they sell it?)

- formal: we/one = ... (one doesn't like to have one's word doubted)

(15.1.3) Reference

- a linguistic context > anaphors = bound within the minimal domain by subject, need a co-referential antecedent

- a pragmatic c. > pronouns = free within the minimal domain x bound by clause-external context

- anaphoric reference = reference to an antecedent already mentioned in the clause before

- cataphoric r. = reference to an antecedent to be mentioned in the clause (absent in CZ)

(15.2) Classification of Pronouns

(A) According to Dušková 

(1) central 

    (a) personal: me, we, ...

    (b) reflexive: myself, ourselves, ...

    (c) possessive

        (a’) determinative (pre-nominal): your, its, ...

        (b’) independent (post-nominal): mine, hers, its?, ...

(2) reciprocal: each other, one another

(3) relative: the wh- series, that

(4) interrogative: the wh- series

(5) demonstrative: this/that, these/those

(6) indefinite

    (a) positive

        (a’) universal: all/both, each/every

        (b’) assertive: some-, one, half, several, enough, other, another

        (c’) non-assertive: any-, either

    (b) negative: no-, neither

- Central PRO: different syntactic functions x the same morphological features

(B) According to Quirk/Greenbaum

(I) specific

    (1) central

        (a) personal

        (b) reflexive

        (c) possessive

        (d) reciprocal

    (2) non-central

        (e) relative

        (f) interrogative

        (g) demonstrative

(II) indefinite

        (h) universal

        (i) partitive

        (j) quantifying

(15.2.1) Personal Pronouns

- functions of 3rd per. SG it

(a) can replace a N with both definite and indefinite determination

- x ... N with an indefinite determination only with a co-referential antecedent: I've bought a new hat but my husband doesn't like it

- ... not a co-referential antecedent > the pro-form one: I've bought a new hat and Jane has bought one too

(b) a "place holder" = a formal substitute in the position of the subject: it's raining/snowing/warm

- CZ: one-member subjectless clauses x not possible in E

(15.2.2) Reflexive Pronouns

- SG -self or PL -selves + 1st and 2nd pers. PRO in possessive case

- ... + 3rd per. PRO in object case

(1) non-emphatic use

- PRO co-referential with the subject = the action expressed by the verb passes from the subject back again to the subject

- typically takes the position of the object

- functions

(a) a direct object: he shaves himself

(b) an indirect object: she bought herself a new hat

(c) a part of the predicate: ah, that's better, you're yourself again

(d) used as an adjective: she wants a little time to herself

(e) used as an adverb: speak for yourself

(f) with reflexive verbs: absent oneself from, pride oneself on, behave yourself, introduce oneself, excuse oneself, underestimate oneself

(2) emphatic use

- PRO not necessarily co-referential with the subject

- typically takes the position of apposition > after the emphasised sentence member: the gift will be presented by the head-mistress herself

- pronounced with an emphatic stress

(15.2.3) Possessive Pronouns

(a) determinative = an attributive function (pre-nominal)

(b) independent = nominal function (post-nominal)

- E: possessives also used to refer to parts of the body (he broke his leg) x CZ: absent

- determinative possessives in complementary distribution with articles

- special structures

(a) the structure N + of + POSS when need to use another determiner besides the possessive: a friend of mine (implies one out of many)

(b) POSS in the function of subject: ours was not an intimate acquaintance

(15.2.4) Reciprocal Pronouns

- each other = implies only two

- one another = implies more than two

- x CZ: reciprocal pronouns identical with reflexive pronouns

(15.2.5) Relative Pronouns

- who (whom, whose), which, that

- compound relative pronouns: whichever, whatever, whoever

- distinction of person (who/that) x non-person (which/that)

- distinction of restrictive (who/which/that/0) x non-restrictive (who/which)

- who: personal antecedent x whose: also non-persons (NOT the interrogative whose!)

- which: non-personal antecedent/sentence antecedent

- that: restrictive relative clause (they live in a house that was build in 1600)

- who/which: can be preceded by a PREP x that: the PREP postponed to the sentence end (here is the car about which I told you x here is the car that I told you about)

(15.2.6) Interrogative Pronouns

- who, which, what

- used to form questions

- functions: determiners (whose idea was it?)/nominals (whom did she marry?)

- distinction of person (who/which/what) x non-person (which/what)

- which (= which of): implies a choice from a restricted set of possibilities

- what (= what kind of): asks for characteristics or description

- what related to persons can refer only to the nominal part of the predicate (what is he [what's his profession]? what is he like? x who is he [what's his name]?)

- what: usually with a postponed PREP (what are you hinting at?)

(15.2.7) Demonstrative Pronouns

- SG this/that > PL these/those

- functions: both determiners (pass me that box please)/nominals (what is this?)

- this, these = "near" reference x that, those = "distant" reference

- this: both anaphoric (The story is greatly exaggerated. At least that's what he told me.) and cataphoric reference (I know this much, that his story is greatly exaggerated.)

- that: anaphoric reference only

(15.2.8) Universal Pronouns

- all, every, every- (-one, -body, -thing), each, both

(1) all

- semantics: unity or collectivness

- co-occurrence: SG/PL; count/non-count; person/non-person

- function: determiner (all the money is spent)/nominal (all is lost)

(2) every

- semantics: individual items in a collective > with 3+ items

- co-occurence: SG; count; person/non-person

- function: determiner (the explosion broke every window in the street)

(3) each

- semantics: individuals items in a collective taken one by one > with 2+ items

- co-occurence: SG; count; person/non-person

- function: determiner (each person signed the paper)/nominal (each must do his best)

(4) both

- semantics > with 2 items

- co-occurence: PL; count; person/non-person

- function: determiner (both the men were found guilty)/nominal (both were found guilty)

(15.2.9) Partitive Pronouns (Quirk) / Existential and Negative Quantifiers (Dušková)

- some and its compounds (-body, -one, -thing)

- any and its compounds (...)

- no and its compounds (nobody, no one, nothing, none)

- other (the other, another, others, the others)

- either and neither

(1) some

- semantics: an indefinite quantity or number (PL or non-count: I spilt some milk on the table)/a particular but unidentified person or thing (SG count: some fool has overran my cat)

- co-occurrence: SG/PL; count/non-count; person/non-person

- function: determiner (he wants some money)/nominal (if you have no money, I lend you some)

- use: affirmatives, interrogatives when expecting affirmation

(2) any

- semantics: no matter what (emphatic use: come any day you like)/an indefinite quantity or number (non-emphatic use: is there any coffee left?)

- co-occurrence: SG/PL; count/non-count; person/non-person

- function: determiner/nominal

- use: negative sentences, interrogatives, conditionals

(3) no

- co-occurrence: SG/PL; count/non-count; person/non-person

- function: determiner (there is no coffee left)

(4) nobody, no one, nothing, none

- co-occurence: SG

- function: nominal (nothing happened)

(5) other

- form: a countable pronoun with inflectional morphology

- = the second of two: the other + SG verb/the other + SG noun (one of my brothers is named X, the other Y/give me the other book)

- = the remaining ones: the others + PL verb/the other + PL noun

- = different or additional ones: others + PL verb/other + PL noun (some like milk chocolate, others prefer plain chocolate/there are other ways of doing this)

(6) either/neither

- co-occurence: SG; countable; person/non-person

- function: determiner/nominal

- either = one or the other of two (either method can be used); both (I haven't seen either of them)

- neither = not this and not the other (neither of the two statements is correct)

(15.2.10) Quantifying Pronouns

- many/few; much/little; several, enough, one

(1) many (more, most)/few

- co-occurence: PL; count

- function: determiner (have you many books?)/nominal (no, I have few)

(2) much (more, most)/little

- co-occurrence: SG; count/non-count

- function: determiner (we have not much time)/nominal (much has been said, and little done)

(3) several

- co-occurence: PL; countable

- function: determiner (I have seen several of them)/nominal (he made several mistakes)

(4) enough

- co-occurence: PL; countable/non-countable

- function: determiner (have you got enough food?)/nominal (yes, we have enough)

(5) one

- = a numerical stressed variant of the indefinite article: one boy disappeared yesterday

- = a substitute for a SG or PL countable noun: I thought you prefer large ones

- = a substitute for a general human agent: one can never be careful enough


Dušková, Libuše, et al. Mluvnice současné angličtiny na pozadí češtiny. Praha: Academia, 2003.

Svoboda, Aleš, and Mária Opělová Károlyová. A Brief Survey of the English Morphology. Ostrava: Ostravská univerzita, 1993.

Other Sources

Veselovská, Ludmila. Přednášky a semináře: Morfologie 2. ZS 2003/04.

Veselovská, Ludmila. Přednášky a semináře: Syntax 1 a 2. ZS a LS 2003/04.


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