Pronouns can be used in a number of ways to either replace a noun or modify its context. While there are many different types of pronoun, the three most common forms are: Personal Pronouns, Demonstrative Pronouns, and Relative Pronouns.
Personal pronouns are substitutes for proper nouns and can be singular, plural or dual. Like all nouns, personal pronouns decline based on number and case, but only the third-person singular has gender, having a separate word for male and female references. Examine the two sentences below: You two love your children and God tests us.
Though there are a lot of personal pronouns to remember, all but the dual pronouns should be recognisable to a modern English speaker (for example 'Min - mine', 'ure - our' and 'eower - your'). If you're unsure which number a pronoun is, sound it out and it will usually sound similar to a modern pronoun. The one exception to this are the dual pronouns, which fell out of usage, so if you see 'inc' or 'unc' you can be sure you're dealing with a dual pronoun.
|1st Person Singular||ic||me||min||me|
|1st Person Dual||wit||unc||uncer||unc|
|2nd Person Singular||þu||þe||þin||þe|
|2nd Person Dual||git||inc||incer||inc|
|3rd Person Singular||he / heo||hine / heo||his / hire||him / hire|
|1st Person Plural||we||us||ure||us|
|2nd Person Plural||ge||eow||eower||eow|
|3rd Person Plural||hie||hie||hira||heom|
Demonstrative pronouns are pronouns that 'demonstrate' or add specificity to a noun. There are two types of demonstrative pronouns in Old English, the 'þes - this' pronouns and the 'se - that' pronouns. The 'se' pronouns are also what we use for 'the' so it is important to remember that any of the pronouns in the 'se' category can be translated as either 'the' or 'that'.
As before, remember that demonstrative pronouns are a good way of telling what case a word is in, as a noun and all its modifiers, including pronouns, always share the same case, gender and number.
|þes - this||se - that|
|þes - this|
|se - that|
A relative pronoun is a word which introduces a relative clause. A relative clause is a clause that is dependent on an earlier part of the sentence for context. For example, in the phrase 'Our father who art in heaven', the 'art in heaven' is dependant on the antecedent 'our father' and the relative pronoun is 'who'.
A relative pronoun can be represented by 'þe' alone, a 'the/that' demonstrative and 'þe', or a 'the/that' demonstrative alone. The word 'þe' never means 'the'. Examine the sentences, 'Fæder ure þe eart on heofenum - Our father who art in heaven' and '>Þæt bearn nis wis se þe stanas ete - The child who ate the stones is not wise'.
If the relative pronoun'þe' is paired with a demonstrative, the form the relative pronoun takes depends on which noun it is linked to. For example, if the relative pronoun is linked to a feminine subject, it would be 'seo þe', while if it was linked to a plural direct object, it would be 'þa þe'.
|Nom||se þe||þæt þe||seo þe||þa þe|
|Acc||þone þe||þæt þe||þa þe||þa þe|
|Gen||þæs þe||þæs þe||þære þe||þara þe|
|Dat||þæm þe||þæm þe||þære þe||þæm þe|
Test Your Declensions
In the textboxes below, fill out the fully declined version of the word in brackets.