Pronouns Overview

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

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.

Git
Dual
Pronoun
lufodon
Plural
Verb
incer
Possessive
Pronoun
bearn
Direct
Object

Drihten
Subject
Noun
fandað
Singular
Verb
us
Personal
Pronoun

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.

Nom Acc Gen Dat
1st Person Sing ic me min me
1st Person Dual wit unc uncer unc
2nd Person Sing þu þe þin þe
2nd Person Dual git inc incer inc
3rd Person Sing 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

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
Masc Neut Fem Plural
Nom þes þis þeos þas
Acc þisne þis þas þas
Gen þisses þisses þisse/þisre þissa/þisra
Dat þissum þissum þisse/þisre þissum
se - that
Nom se þæt seo þa
Acc þone þæt þa þa
Gen þæs þæs þære þara
Dat þæm þæm þære þæm

Relative Pronouns

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'.

Fæder ure
Antecedent
 
þe
Relative
Pronoun
eart on heofenum
Relative
Clause

Þæt bearn nis wis
Antecedent
 
se þe
Relative
Pronoun
stanas ete
Relative
Clause

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'.

Relative Pronouns
Masc Neut Fem Plural
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.


Use these buttons to insert thorn, ash and eth when you have an input selected.