Pronoun

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A pronoun is a word that substitutes for a noun. For example, in the sentence "Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words" (Proverbs 23:9 KJV), the word "he" is a pronoun that stands in for the word "fool," which is a noun, "thy" is an archaic pronoun for "the listener" (or "you" in modern English). Pronouns also include "it" "that" "those", and the possessives "his, her, their".

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Basic Pronoun Forms by Person and Number (Nominative Case)
FormSingularPlural
1st Person I We
2nd Person You You
3rd Person He, she, it They

Formal and Informal You

Many languages, including English (though they are now found only in texts like the King James Bible and Shakespere) have formal and informal 2nd person pronoun (you). This is often referred to as "Tu/Vous" which is the French formal and informal forms of you. Since many people read the King James Bible, and since language can simply be fun, here are the "tu/vous" forms for twelfth century English.

  • Informal form of "you" = thou (I) thee (me) thy/thine[1](my or mine).
  • Formal form of "you" = Ye (I) you (me) your/yours (my or mine).

It is interesting to note that early writers of English addressed God informally, which I think is important in understanding our relationship with our Father.

In French and in the above-noted archaic form in English, the formal second person singular is the same as the second person plural. In other words, the distinction is between informal singular and all else. Russian also follows this pattern; ты (ty) is the informal second person singular, while вы (vy) is the second person plural and formal. However, other languages follow different patterns. For example, Spanish has separate second person formal singular and plural forms, usted and ustedes, which are grammatically third person, as they are derived from vuestra merced (your mercy). German uses the third person plural, except capitalized in writing: Sie, literally, "They."

References

  1. The Tongue Untied: Pronouns

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