Introduction to Pronouns
Pronouns are words which stand in for nouns or noun phrases, and thus perform many different functions in a sentence. We have already seen personal pronouns used as subjects in the Weak Verbs section, but pronouns can also add specificity and serve as a reference to previous nouns. This module will cover the three most common types of pronouns:
Personal pronouns refer to specific people or objects. (I, You, He, She, It,
We, Ye, They)
Demonstrative pronouns are words used to specify something with a sense of location. (This, That)
Relative pronouns refer to nouns mentioned previously and introduce a relative clause which describes or modifies the noun. (That, Which, Who)
While it is possible to write a basic sentence without pronouns, the more complex a sentence gets, the more likely you are to encounter pronouns. Examine the below sentence: And, this king, he said, 'Hear! He who has ears for hearing'. You will notice the subject, cyning, has the demonstrative pronoun þes rather than the more familiar se. This indicates a specific king, perhaps one referred to earlier in the text. The subject, cyning, is referred to using the personal pronoun he the second time he's mentioned. The relative pronoun, se þe, serves the same function as the modern English 'who' and modifies the meaning of the proceeding personal pronoun 'he'.