Introduction to Pronouns

Pronouns are words which 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. (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 repeated using the personal pronoun he. The relative pronoun, se þe, serves the same function as the modern English 'who' and modifies the meaning of the proceeding personal pronoun 'he'.

Ond,
Conjunction
 
þes
Demonstrative
Pronoun
cyning,
Subject
Noun
he
Personal
Pronoun
cwæþ,
Verb
 
'Gehyre!
Verb
 
Se þe
Relative
Pronoun
earan
Direct
Object
hæbbe
Verb
 
to
Prep.
 
gehyranne
Inflected
Infinitive

Like all nouns, pronouns take different forms depending on number, case, and grammatical gender. The grammar governing when and how to use each pronoun will be explained throughout this module, starting with personal pronouns.

Return to Strong Nouns Overview Continue to Personal Pronouns