The need of pronouns.
72.When we wish to speak of a name several times in succession, it is clumsy and tiresome to repeat the noun. For instance, instead of saying, “The pupil will succeed in the pupil’s efforts if the pupil is ambitious,” we improve the sentence by shortening it thus, “The pupil will succeed in his efforts if he is ambitious.”
Again, if we wish to know about the ownership of a house, we evidently cannot state the owner’s name, but by a question we say, “Whose house is that?” thus placing a word instead of the name till we learn the name.
This is not to be understood as implying that pronouns were invented because nouns were tiresome, since history shows that pronouns are as old as nouns and verbs. The use of pronouns must have sprung up naturally, from a necessity for short, definite, and representative words.
A pronoun is a reference word, standing for a name, or for a person or thing, or for a group of persons or things.
Classes of pronouns.
73.Pronouns may be grouped in five classes:—
(1) Personal pronouns, which distinguish person by their form (Sec. 76).
(2) Interrogative pronouns, which are used to ask questions about persons or things.
(3) Relative pronouns, which relate or refer to a noun, pronoun, or other word or expression, and at the same time connect two statements They are also calledconjunctive.
(4) Adjective pronouns, words, primarily adjectives, which are classed as adjectives when they modify nouns, but as pronouns when they stand for nouns.
(5) Indefinite pronouns, which cannot be used as adjectives, but stand for an indefinite number of persons or things.
Numerous examples of all these will be given under the separate classes hereafter treated.
Person in grammar.
74.Since pronouns stand for persons as well as names, they must represent the person talking, the person or thing spoken to, and the person or thing talked about.
This gives rise to a new term, “the distinction of person.”
Person of nouns.
75.This distinction was not needed in discussing nouns, as nouns have the same form, whether representing persons and things spoken to or spoken of. It is evident that a noun could not represent the person speaking, even if it had a special form.
From analogy to pronouns, which have forms for person, nouns are sometimes spoken of as first or second person by their use; that is, if they are in apposition with a pronoun of the first or second person, they are said to have person by agreement.
But usually nouns represent something spoken of.
Three persons of pronouns.
76.Pronouns naturally are of three persons:—
(1) First person, representing the person speaking.
(2) Second person, representing a person or thing spoken to.
(3) Third person, standing for a person or thing spoken of.
77.Personal pronouns are inflected thus:—
mine, my
our, ours
Old Form
Common Form.
thine, thy
your, yours
your, yours
your, yours
her, hers
Plur. of all Three.
their, theirs
Remarks on These Forms.
First and second persons without gender.
78.It will be noticed that the pronouns of the first and second persons have no forms to distinguish gender. The speaker may be either male or female, or, by personification, neuter; so also with the person or thing spoken to.
Third person singular has gender.
But the third person has, in the singular, a separate form for each gender, and also for the neuter.
Old forms.
In Old English these three were formed from the same root; namely, masculine , feminine hēo, neuter hit.
The form hit (for it) is still heard in vulgar English, and hoo (for hēo) in some dialects of England.
The plurals were , heora, heom, in Old English; the forms they, their, them, perhaps being from the English demonstrative, though influenced by the cognate Norse forms.
Second person always plural in ordinary English.
79.Thou, thee, etc., are old forms which are now out of use in ordinary speech. The consequence is, that we have no singular pronoun of the second person in ordinary speech or prose, but make the plural you do duty for the singular. We use it with a plural verb always, even when referring to a single object.
Two uses of the old singulars.
80.There are, however, two modern uses of thou, thy, etc.:—
(1) In elevated style, especially in poetry; as,—
With thy clear keen joyanceLanguor cannot be;Shadow of annoyanceNever came near thee;Thou lovest; but ne’er knew love’s sad satiety.—Shelley.
(2) In addressing the Deity, as in prayers, etc.; for example,—
Oh, thou Shepherd of Israel, that didst comfort thy people of old, to thy care we commit the helpless.—Beecher.
The form its.
81.It is worth while to consider the possessive its. This is of comparatively recent growth. The old form was his (from the nominativehit), and this continued in use till the sixteenth century. The transition from the old his to the modern its is shown in these sentences:—
1 He anointed the altar and all his vessels.—Bible
Here his refers to altar, which is a neuter noun. The quotation represents the usage of the early sixteenth century.
2 It’s had it head bit off by it young—Shakespeare
Shakespeare uses his, it, and sometimes its, as possessive of it.
In Milton’s poetry (seventeenth century) its occurs only three times.
3 See heaven its sparkling portals wide display—Pope
A relic of the olden time.
82.We have an interesting relic in such sentences as this from Thackeray: “One of the ways to know ‘em is to watch the scared looks of the ogres’ wives and children.”
As shown above, the Old English objective was hem (or heom), which was often sounded with the h silent, just as we now say, “I saw ‘im yesterday” when the wordhim is not emphatic. In spoken English, this form ‘em has survived side by side with the literary them.
Use of the pronouns in personification.
83.The pronouns he and she are often used in poetry, and sometimes in ordinary speech, to personify objects (Sec. 34).
I The Nominative.
Nominative forms.
84.The nominative forms of personal pronouns have the same uses as the nominative of nouns (see Sec. 58). The case of most of these pronouns can be determined more easily than the case of nouns, for, besides a nominative use, they have a nominative form. The words I, thou, he, she, we, ye, they, are very rarely anything but nominative in literary English, though ye is occasionally used as objective.
Additional nominatives in spoken English.
85.In spoken English, however, there are some others that are added to the list of nominatives: they are, me, him, her, us, them, when they occur in the predicate position. That is, in such a sentence as, “I am sure it was him,” the literary language would require he after was; but colloquial English regularly uses as predicate nominatives the forms me, him, her, us, them, though those named in Sec. 84 are always subjects. Yet careful speakers avoid this, and follow the usage of literary English.
II. The Possessive.
Not a separate class.
86.The forms my, thy, his, her, its, our, your, their, are sometimes grouped separately as POSSESSIVE PRONOUNS, but it is better to speak of them as the possessive case of personal pronouns, just as we speak of the possessive case of nouns, and not make more classes.
Absolute personal pronouns.
The forms mine, thine, yours, hers, theirs, sometimes his and its, have a peculiar use, standing apart from the words they modify instead of immediately before them. From this use they are called ABSOLUTE PERSONAL PRONOUNS, or, some say, ABSOLUTE POSSESSIVES.
As instances of the use of absolute pronouns, note the following:—
‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands. —Shakespeare.
And since thou own’st that praise, I spare thee mine.—Cowper.
My arm better than theirs can ward it off.—Landor.
Thine are the city and the people of Granada.—Bulwer.
Old use of mine and thine.
Formerly mine and thine stood before their nouns, if the nouns began with a vowel or h silent; thus,—
Shall I not take mine ease in mine inn?—Shakespeare.
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice.—Id.
If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out.—Bible.
My greatest apprehension was for mine eyes.—Swift.
This usage is still preserved in poetry.
Double and triple possessives.
87.The forms hers, ours, yours, theirs, are really double possessives, since they add the possessive s to what is already a regular possessive inflection.
Besides this, we have, as in nouns, a possessive phrase made up of the preposition of with these double possessives, hers, ours, yours, theirs, and with mine, thine,his, sometimes its.
Their uses.
Like the noun possessives, they have several uses:—
(1) To prevent ambiguity, as in the following:—
I have often contrasted the habitual qualities of that gloomy friend of theirs with the astounding spirits of Thackeray and Dickens.—J. T. Fields.
No words of ours can describe the fury of the conflict.—J. F. Cooper.
(2) To bring emphasis, as in these sentences:—
This thing of yours that you call a Pardon of Sins, it is a bit of rag-paper with ink.—Carlyle.
This ancient silver bowl of mine, it tells of good old times. —Holmes.
(3) To express contempt, anger, or satire; for example,—
“Do you know the charges that unhappy sister of mine and her family have put me to already?” says the Master.—Thackeray.
He [John Knox] had his pipe of Bordeaux too, we find, in that old Edinburgh house of his.—Carlyle.
“Hold thy peace, Long Allen,” said Henry Woodstall, “I tell thee that tongue of thine is not the shortest limb about thee.”—Scott.
(4) To make a noun less limited in application; thus,—
A favorite liar and servant of mine was a man I once had to drive a brougham.—Thackeray.
In New York I read a newspaper criticism one day, commenting upon a letter of mine.—Id.
What would the last two sentences mean if the word my were written instead of of mine, and preceded the nouns?
About the case of absolute pronouns.
88.In their function, or use in a sentence, the absolute possessive forms of the personal pronouns are very much like adjectives used as nouns.
In such sentences as, “The good alone are great,” “None but the brave deserves the fair,” the words italicized have an adjective force and also a noun force, as shown in Sec. 20.
So in the sentences illustrating absolute pronouns in Sec. 86: mine stands for my property, his for his property, in the first sentence; mine stands for my praise in the second. But the first two have a nominative use, and mine in the second has an objective use.
They may be spoken of as possessive in form, but nominative or objective in use, according as the modified word is in the nominative or the objective.
III. The Objective.
The old dative case.
89.In Old English there was one case which survives in use, but not in form. In such a sentence as this one from Thackeray, “Pick meout a whip-cord thong with some dainty knots in it,” the word me is evidently not the direct object of the verb, but expresses for whom, for whose benefit, the thing is done. In pronouns, this dative use, as it is called, was marked by a separate case.
Now the objective.
In Modern English the same use is frequently seen, but the form is the same as the objective. For this reason a word thus used is called a dative-objective.
The following are examples of the dative-objective:—
Give me neither poverty nor riches.—Bible.
Curse me this people.—Id.
Both joined in making him a present.—Macaulay
Is it not enough that you have burnt me down three houses with your dog’s tricks, and be hanged to you!—Lamb
I give thee this to wear at the collar.—Scott
Other uses of the objective.
90.Besides this use of the objective, there are others:—
(1) As the direct object of a verb.
They all handled it.—Lamb
(2) As the object of a preposition.
Time is behind them and before them.—Carlyle.
(3) In apposition.
She sate all last summer by the bedside of the blind beggar, him that so often and so gladly I talked with.—De Quincey.
Indefinite use of you and your.
91.The word you, and its possessive case yours are sometimes used without reference to a particular person spoken to. They approach the indefinite pronoun in use.
Your mere puny stripling, that winced at the least flourish of the rod, was passed by with indulgence.—Irving
To empty here, you must condense there.—Emerson.
The peasants take off their hats as you pass; you sneeze, and they cry, “God bless you!” The thrifty housewife shows you into her best chamber. You have oaten cakes baked some months before.—Longfellow
Uses of it.
92.The pronoun it has a number of uses:—
(1) To refer to some single word preceding; as,—
Ferdinand ordered the army to recommence its march.—Bulwer.
Society, in this century, has not made its progress, like Chinese skill, by a greater acuteness of ingenuity in trifles.—D. Webster.
(2) To refer to a preceding word group; thus,—
If any man should do wrong merely out of ill nature, why, yet it is but like the thorn or brier, which prick and scratch because they can do no other.—Bacon.
Here it refers back to the whole sentence before it, or to the idea, “any man’s doing wrong merely out of ill nature.”
(3) As a grammatical subject, to stand for the real, logical subject, which follows the verb; as in the sentences,—
It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion. —Emerson.
It is this haziness of intellectual vision which is the malady of all classes of men by nature.—Newman.
It is a pity that he has so much learning, or that he has not a great deal more.—Addison.
(4) As an impersonal subject in certain expressions which need no other subject; as,—
It is finger-cold, and prudent farmers get in their barreled apples.—Thoreau.
And when I awoke, it rained.—Coleridge.
For when it dawned, they dropped their arms.—Id.
It was late and after midnight.—De Quincey.
(5) As an impersonal or indefinite object of a verb or a preposition; as in the following sentences:—
(a) Michael Paw, who lorded it over the fair regions of ancient Pavonia.—Irving.
I made up my mind to foot it.—Hawthorne.
A sturdy lad … who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles it, keeps a school.—Emerson.
(b) “Thy mistress leads thee a dog’s life of it.”—Irving.
There was nothing for it but to return.—Scott.
An editor has only to say “respectfully declined,” and there is an end of it.—Holmes.
Poor Christian was hard put to it.—Bunyan.
Reflexive use of the personal pronouns.
93.The personal pronouns in the objective case are often used reflexively; that is, referring to the same person as the subject of the accompanying verb. For example, we use such expressions as, “I found me a good book,” “He bought him a horse,” etc. This reflexive use of the dative-objective is very common in spoken and in literary English.
The personal pronouns are not often used reflexively, however, when they are direct objects. This occurs in poetry, but seldom in prose; as,—
Now I lay me down to sleep.—Anon.
I set me down and sigh.—Burns.
And millions in those solitudes, since firstThe flight of years began, have laid them downIn their last sleep.—Bryant.
Composed of the personal pronouns with -self, -selves.
94.The REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS, or COMPOUND PERSONAL, as they are also called, are formed from the personal pronouns by adding the word self, and its plural selves.
They are myself, (ourself), ourselves, yourself, (thyself), yourselves, himself, herself, itself, themselves.
Of the two forms in parentheses, the second is the old form of the second person, used in poetry.
Ourself is used to follow the word we when this represents a single person, especially in the speech of rulers; as,—
Methinks he seems no better than a girl;As girls were once, as we ourself have been.—Tennyson.
Origin of these reflexives.
95.The question might arise, Why are himself and themselves not hisself and theirselves, as in vulgar English, after the analogy ofmyself, ourselves, etc.?
The history of these words shows they are made up of the dative-objective forms, not the possessive forms, with self. In Middle English the forms meself, theself, were changed into the possessive myself, thyself, and the others were formed by analogy with these. Himself and themselves are the only ones retaining a distinct objective form.
In the forms yourself and yourselves we have the possessive your marked as singular as well as plural.
Use of the reflexives.
96.There are three uses of reflexive pronouns:—
(1) As object of a verb or preposition, and referring to the same person or thing as the subject; as in these sentences from Emerson:—
He who offers himself a candidate for that covenant comes up like an Olympian.
I should hate myself if then I made my other friends my asylum.
We fill ourselves with ancient learning.
What do we know of nature or of ourselves?
(2) To emphasize a noun or pronoun; for example,—
The great globe itself … shall dissolve.—Shakespeare.
Threats to all;To you yourself, to us, to every one.Id.
Who would not sing for Lycidas! he knewHimself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.—Milton.
NOTE.—In such sentences the pronoun is sometimes omitted, and the reflexive modifies the pronoun understood; for example,—
Only itself can inspire whom it will.—Emerson.
My hands are full of blossoms plucked before, Held dead within them till myself shall die.—E. B. Browning.
As if it were thyself that’s here, I shrink with pain.—Wordsworth.
(3) As the precise equivalent of a personal pronoun; as,—
Lord Altamont designed to take his son and myself.—De Quincey.
Victories that neither myself nor my cause always deserved.—B. Franklin.
For what else have our forefathers and ourselves been taxed?—Landor.
Years ago, Arcturus and myself met a gentleman from China who knew the language.—Thackeray.
Exercises on Personal Pronouns.
(a) Bring up sentences containing ten personal pronouns, some each of masculine, feminine, and neuter.
(b) Bring up sentences containing five personal pronouns in the possessive, some of them being double possessives.
(c) Tell which use each it has in the following sentences:—
Come and trip it as we go,On the light fantastic toe.
2. Infancy conforms to nobody; all conform to it.
3. It is an ill wind that blows nobody good.
4. Courage, father, fight it out.
5. And it grew wondrous cold.
6. To know what is best to do, and how to do it, is wisdom.
7. If any phenomenon remains brute and dark, it is because the corresponding faculty in the observer is not yet active.
8. But if a man do not speak from within the veil, where the word is one with that it tells of, let him lowly confess it.
9. It behooved him to keep on good terms with his pupils.
10. Biscuit is about the best thing I know; but it is the soonest spoiled; and one would like to hear counsel on one point, why it is that a touch of water utterly ruins it.
Three now in use.
97.The interrogative pronouns now in use are who (with the forms whose and whom), which, and what.
One obsolete.
There is an old word, whether, used formerly to mean which of two, but now obsolete. Examples from the Bible:—
Whether of them twain did the will of his father?
Whether is greater, the gold, or the temple?
From Steele (eighteenth century):—
It may be a question whether of these unfortunate persons had the greater soul.
Use of who and its forms.
98.The use of who, with its possessive and objective, is seen in these sentences:—
Who is she in bloody coronation robes from Rheims?—De Quincey.
Whose was that gentle voice, that, whispering sweet,Promised, methought, long days of bliss sincere?—Bowles.
What doth she look on? Whom doth she behold?—Wordsworth.
From these sentences it will be seen that interrogative who refers to persons only; that it is not inflected for gender or number, but for case alone, having three forms; it is always third person, as it always asks about somebody.
Use of which.
99.Examples of the use of interrogative which:—
Which of these had speed enough to sweep between the question and the answer, and divide the one from the other?—De Quincey.
Which of you, shall we say, doth love us most?—Shakespeare.
Which of them [the sisters] shall I take?—Id.
As shown here, which is not inflected for gender, number, or case; it refers to either persons or things; it is selective, that is, picks out one or more from a number of known persons or objects.
Use of what.
100.Sentences showing the use of interrogative what:—
Since I from Smaylho’me tower have been,What did thy lady do?—Scott.
What is so rare as a day in June?—Lowell.
What wouldst thou do, old man?—Shakespeare.
These show that what is not inflected for case; that it is always singular and neuter, referring to things, ideas, actions, etc., not to persons.
101.The following are all the interrogative forms:—
In spoken English, who is used as objective instead of whom; as, “Who did you see?” “Who did he speak to?”
To tell the case of interrogatives.
102.The interrogative who has a separate form for each case, consequently the case can be told by the form of the word; but the case of which and what must be determined exactly as in nouns,—by the use of the words.
For instance, in Sec. 99, which is nominative in the first sentence, since it is subject of the verb had; nominative in the second also, subject of doth love; objective in the last, being the direct object of the verb shall take.
Further treatment of who, which andwhat.
103.Who, which, and what are also relative pronouns; which and what are sometimes adjectives; what may be an adverb in some expressions.
They will be spoken of again in the proper places, especially in the treatment of indirect questions (Sec. 127).
Function of the relative pronoun.
104.Relative pronouns differ from both personal and interrogative pronouns in referring to an antecedent, and also in having a conjunctive use. The advantage in using them is to unite short statements into longer sentences, and so to make smoother discourse. Thus we may say, “The last of all the Bards was he. These bards sang of Border chivalry.” Or, it may be shortened into,—
“The last of all the Bards was he,Who sung of Border chivalry.”
In the latter sentence, who evidently refers to Bards, which is called the antecedent of the relative.
The antecedent.
105.The antecedent of a pronoun is the noun, pronoun, or other word or expression, for which the pronoun stands. It usually precedes the pronoun.
Personal pronouns of the third person may have antecedents also, as they take the place usually of a word already used; as,—
The priest hath his fee who comes and shrives us.—Lowell
In this, both his and who have the antecedent priest.
The pronoun which may have its antecedent following, and the antecedent may be a word or a group of words, as will be shown in the remarks on which below.
Two kinds.
106.Relatives may be SIMPLE or INDEFINITE.
When the word relative is used, a simple relative is meant. Indefinite relatives, and the indefinite use of simple relatives, will be discussed further on.
The SIMPLE RELATIVES are who, which, that, what.
Who and its forms.
107.Examples of the relative who and its forms:—
1. Has a man gained anything who has received a hundred favors and rendered none?—Emerson.
2. That man is little to be envied whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon.—Dr Johnson.
For her enchanting son,Whom universal nature did lament.—Milton.
4. The nurse came to us, who were sitting in an adjoining apartment.—Thackeray.
Ye mariners of England,That guard our native seas;Whose flag has braved, a thousand years,The battle and the breeze!—Campbell.
6. The men whom men respect, the women whom women approve, are the men and women who bless their species.—Parton
Which and its forms.
108.Examples of the relative which and its forms:—
1. They had not their own luster, but the look which is not of the earth.—Byron.
The embattled portal arch he pass’d,Whose ponderous grate and massy barHad oft roll’d back the tide of war.—Scott.
3. Generally speaking, the dogs which stray around the butcher shops restrain their appetites.—Cox.
4. The origin of language is divine, in the same sense in which man’s nature, with all its capabilities …, is a divine creation.—W. D. Whitney.
(a) This gradation … ought to be kept in view; else this description will seem exaggerated, which it certainly is not.—Burke.
(b) The snow was three inches deep and still falling, which prevented him from taking his usual ride.—Irving.
109.Examples of the relative that:—
The man that hath no music in himself,…Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.—Shakespeare
2. The judge … bought up all the pigs that could be had.—Lamb
3. Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them.—Emerson.
4. For the sake of country a man is told to yield everything that makes the land honorable.—H. W. Beecher
5. Reader, that do not pretend to have leisure for very much scholarship, you will not be angry with me for telling you.—De Quincey.
6. The Tree Igdrasil, that has its roots down in the kingdoms of Hela and Death, and whose boughs overspread the highest heaven!—Carlyle.
110.Examples of the use of the relative what:—
1. Its net to entangle the enemy seems to be what it chiefly trusts to, and what it takes most pains to render as complete as possible.—Goldsmith.
2. For what he sought below is passed above, Already done is all that he would do.—Margaret Fuller.
3. Some of our readers may have seen in India a crowd of crows picking a sick vulture to death, no bad type of what often happens in that country.—Macaulay
[To the Teacher.—If pupils work over the above sentences carefully, and test every remark in the following paragraphs, they will get a much better understanding of the relatives.]
111.By reading carefully the sentences in Sec. 107, the following facts will be noticed about the relative who:—
(1) It usually refers to persons: thus, in the first sentence, Sec. 107, a man…who; in the second, that man…whose; in the third,son, whom; and so on.
(2) It has three case forms,—who, whose, whom.
(3) The forms do not change for person or number of the antecedent. In sentence 4, who is first person; in 5, whose is second person; the others are all third person. In 1, 2, and 3, the relatives are singular; in 4, 5, and 6, they are plural.
Who referring to animals.
112.Though in most cases who refers to persons there are instances found where it refers to animals. It has been seen (Sec. 24) that animals are referred to by personal pronouns when their characteristics or habits are such as to render them important or interesting to man. Probably on the same principle the personal relative who is used not infrequently in literature, referring to animals.
Witness the following examples:—
And you, warm little housekeeper [the cricket], who class With those who think the candles come too soon.—Leigh Hunt.
The robins…have succeeded in driving off the bluejays who used to build in our pines.—Lowell.
The little gorilla, whose wound I had dressed, flung its arms around my neck.—Thackeray.
A lake frequented by every fowl whom Nature has taught to dip the wing in water.—Dr. Johnson.
While we had such plenty of domestic insects who infinitely excelled the former, because they understood how to weave as well as to spin.—Swift.
My horse, who, under his former rider had hunted the buffalo, seemed as much excited as myself.—Irving.
Other examples might be quoted from Burke, Kingsley, Smollett, Scott, Cooper, Gibbon, and others.
113.The sentences in Sec. 108 show that—
(1) Which refers to animals, things, or ideas, not persons.
(2) It is not inflected for gender or number.
(3) It is nearly always third person, rarely second (an example of its use as second person is given in sentence 32, p. 96).
(4) It has two case forms,—which for the nominative and objective, whose for the possessive.
Examples of whose, possessive case of which.
114.Grammarians sometimes object to the statement that whose is the possessive of which, saying that the phrase of which should always be used instead; yet a search in literature shows that the possessive form whose is quite common in prose as well as in poetry: for example,—
I swept the horizon, and saw at one glance the glorious elevations, on whose tops the sun kindled all the melodies and harmonies of light.—Beecher.
Men may be ready to fight to the death, and to persecute without pity, for a religion whose creed they do not understand, and whose precepts they habitually disobey.—Macaulay
Beneath these sluggish waves lay the once proud cities of the plain, whose grave was dug by the thunder of the heavens.—Scott.
Many great and opulent cities whose population now exceeds that of Virginia during the Revolution, and whose names are spoken in the remotest corner of the civilized world.—Mcmaster.
Through the heavy door whose bronze network closes the place of his rest, let us enter the church itself.—Ruskin.
This moribund ’61, whose career of life is just coming to its terminus.—Thackeray.
So in Matthew Arnold, Kingsley, Burke, and numerous others.
Which and its antecedents.
115.The last two sentences in Sec. 108 show that which may have other antecedents than nouns and pronouns. In 5 (a) there is a participial adjective used as the antecedent; in 5 (b) there is a complete clause employed as antecedent. This often occurs.
Sometimes, too, the antecedent follows which; thus,—
And, which is worse, all you have doneHath been but for a wayward son.—Shakespeare.
Primarily, which is very notable and curious, I observe that men of business rarely know the meaning of the word “rich.”—Ruskin.
I demurred to this honorary title upon two grounds,—first, as being one toward which I had no natural aptitudes or predisposing advantages; secondly (which made her stare), as carrying with it no real or enviable distinction.—De Quincey.
116.In the sentences of Sec. 109, we notice that—
(1) That refers to persons, animals, and things.
(2) It has only one case form, no possessive.
(3) It is the same form for first, second, and third persons.
(4) It has the same form for singular and plural.
It sometimes borrows the possessive whose, as in sentence 6, Sec. 109, but this is not sanctioned as good usage.
117.The sentences of Sec. 110 show that—
(1) What always refers to things; is always neuter.
(2) It is used almost entirely in the singular.
(3) Its antecedent is hardly ever expressed. When expressed, it usually follows, and is emphatic; as, for example,—
What I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.—Bible
What fates impose, that men must needs abide.—Shakespeare.
What a man does, that he has.—Emerson.
Compare this:—
Alas! is it not too true, what we said?—Carlyle.
118.These are the forms of the simple relatives:—
119.The gender, number, and person of the relatives who, which, and that must be determined by those of the antecedent; the case depends upon the function of the relative in its own clause.
For example, consider the following sentence:
“He uttered truths that wrought upon and molded the lives of those who heard him.”
Since the relatives hold the sentence together, we can, by taking them out, let the sentence fall apart into three divisions: (1) “He uttered truths;” (2) “The truths wrought upon and molded the lives of the people;” (3) “These people heard him.”
That evidently refers to truths, consequently is neuter, third person, plural number. Who plainly stands for those or the people, either of which would be neuter, third person, plural number. Here the relative agrees with its antecedent.
We cannot say the relative agrees with its antecedent in case. Truths in sentence (2), above, is subject of wrought upon and molded; in (1), it is object of uttered. In (2), people is the object of the preposition of; in (3), it is subject of the verb heard. Now, that takes the case of the truths in (2), not of truths which is expressed in the sentence: consequently that is in the nominative case. In the same way who, standing for the people understood, subject of heard, is in the nominative case.
First find the antecedents, then parse the relatives, in the following sentences:—
1. How superior it is in these respects to the pear, whose blossoms are neither colored nor fragrant!
2. Some gnarly apple which I pick up in the road reminds me by its fragrance of all the wealth of Pomona.
3. Perhaps I talk with one who is selecting some choice barrels for filling an order.
4. Ill blows the wind that profits nobody.
5. Alas! it is we ourselves that are getting buried alive under this avalanche of earthly impertinences.
6. This method also forces upon us the necessity of thinking, which is, after all, the highest result of all education.
7. I know that there are many excellent people who object to the reading of novels as a waste of time.
8. I think they are trying to outwit nature, who is sure to be cunninger than they.
Parsing what, the simple relative.
120.The relative what is handled differently, because it has usually no antecedent, but is singular, neuter, third person. Its case is determined exactly as that of other relatives. In the sentence, “What can’t be cured must be endured,” the verb must be endured is the predicate of something. What must be endured? Answer, What can’t be cured. The whole expression is its subject. The wordwhat, however, is subject of the verb can’t be cured, and hence is in the nominative case.
“What we call nature is a certain self-regulated motion or change.” Here the subject of is, etc., is what we call nature; but of this, we is the subject, and what is the direct object of the verb call, so is in the objective case.
Another way.
Some prefer another method of treatment. As shown by the following sentences, what is equivalent to that which:—
It has been said that “common souls pay with what they do, nobler souls with that which they are.”—Emerson.
That which is pleasant often appears under the name of evil; and what is disagreeable to nature is called good and virtuous.—Burke.
Hence some take what as a double relative, and parse that in the first clause, and which in the second clause; that is, “common souls pay with that [singular, object ofwith] which [singular, object of do] they do.”
List and examples.
121.INDEFINITE RELATIVES are, by meaning and use, not as direct as the simple relatives.
They are whoever, whichever, whatever, whatsoever; less common are whoso, whosoever, whichsoever, whatsoever. The simple relatives who, which, and what may also be used as indefinite relatives. Examples of indefinite relatives (from Emerson):—
1. Whoever has flattered his friend successfully must at once think himself a knave, and his friend a fool.
2. It is no proof of a man’s understanding, to be able to affirm whatever he pleases.
3. They sit in a chair or sprawl with children on the floor, or stand on their head, or what else soever, in a new and original way.
4. Whoso is heroic will always find crises to try his edge.
5. Only itself can inspire whom it will.
6. God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please,—you cannot have both.
7. Do what we can, summer will have its flies.
Meaning and use.
122.The fitness of the term indefinite here cannot be shown better than by examining the following sentences:—
1. There is something so overruling in whatever inspires us with awe, in all things which belong ever so remotely to terror, that nothing else can stand in their presence.—Burke.
2. Death is there associated, not with everything that is most endearing in social and domestic charities, but with whatever is darkest in human nature and in human destiny.—Macaulay.
It is clear that in 1, whatever is equivalent to all things which, and in 2, to everything that; no certain antecedent, no particular thing, being referred to. So with the other indefinites.
What simple relative and whatindefinite relative.
123.The above helps us to discriminate between what as a simple and what as an indefinite relative.
As shown in Sec. 120, the simple relative what is equivalent to that which or the thing which,—some particular thing; as shown by the last sentence in Sec. 121, what means anything that, everything that (or everything which). The difference must be seen by the meaning of the sentence, as what hardly ever has an antecedent.
The examples in sentences 5 and 6, Sec. 121, show that who and which have no antecedent expressed, but mean any one whom, either one that, etc.
But and as.
124.Two words, but and as, are used with the force of relative pronouns in some expressions; for example,—
1. There is not a leaf rotting on the highway but has force in it: how else could it rot?—Carlyle.
2. This, amongst such other troubles as most men meet with in this life, has been my heaviest affliction.—De Quincey.
Proof that they have the force of relatives.
Compare with these the two following sentences:—
3. There is nothing but is related to us, nothing that does not interest us.—Emerson.
4. There were articles of comfort and luxury such as Hester never ceased to use, but which only wealth could have purchased.—Hawthorne.
Sentence 3 shows that but is equivalent to the relative that with not, and that as after such is equivalent to which.
For as after same see “Syntax” (Sec. 417).
Former use of as.
125.In early modern English, as was used just as we use that or which, not following the word such; thus,—
I have not from your eyes that gentlenessAnd show of love as I was wont to have.—Shakespeare
This still survives in vulgar English in England; for example,—
“Don’t you mind Lucy Passmore, as charmed your warts for you when you was a boy? “—Kingsley
This is frequently illustrated in Dickens’s works.
Other substitutes.
126.Instead of the phrases in which, upon which, by which, etc., the conjunctions wherein, whereupon, whereby, etc., are used.
A man is the facade of a temple wherein all wisdom and good abide.—Emerson.
The sovereignty of this nature whereof we speak.—Id.
The dear home faces whereuponThat fitful firelight paled and shone.—Whittier.
Special caution needed here.
127.It is sometimes hard for the student to tell a relative from an interrogative pronoun. In the regular direct question the interrogative is easily recognized; so is the relative when an antecedent is close by. But compare the following in pairs:—
(a) Like a gentleman of leisure who is strolling out for pleasure.
(b) Well we knew who stood behind, though the earthwork hid them.
(a) But what you gain in time is perhaps lost in power.
(b) But what had become of them they knew not.
(a) These are the lines which heaven-commanded Toil shows on his deed.
(b) And since that time I thought it not amiss To judge which were the best of all these three.
In sentences 1 (a), 2 (a) and 3 (a) the regular relative use is seen; who having the antecedent gentleman, what having the double use of pronoun and antecedent, whichhaving the antecedent lines.
But in 1 (b), 2 (b), and 3 (b), there are two points of difference from the others considered: first, no antecedent is expressed, which would indicate that they are not relatives; second, a question is disguised in each sentence, although each sentence as a whole is declarative in form. Thus, 1 (b), if expanded, would be, “Who stood behind? We knew,” etc., showing that who is plainly interrogative. So in 2 (b), what is interrogative, the full expression being, “But what had become of them? They knew not.” Likewise with which in 3 (b).
How to decide.
In studying such sentences, (1) see whether there is an antecedent of who or which, and whether what = that + which (if so, it is a simple relative; if not, it is either an indefinite relative or an interrogative pronoun); (2) see if the pronoun introduces an indirect question (if it does, it is an interrogative; if not, it is an indefinite relative).
Another caution.
128.On the other hand, care must be taken to see whether the pronoun is the word that really asks the question in an interrogative sentence. Examine the following:—
Sweet rose! whence is this hueWhich doth all hues excel?—Drummond
And then what wonders shall you doWhose dawning beauty warms us so?—Walker
Is this a romance? Or is it a faithful picture of what has lately been in a neighboring land?—Macaulay
These are interrogative sentences, but in none of them does the pronoun ask the question. In the first, whence is the interrogative word, which has the antecedent hue. In the second, whose has the antecedent you, and asks no question. In the third, the question is asked by the verb.
Relative omitted when object.
129.The relative is frequently omitted in spoken and in literary English when it would be the object of a preposition or a verb. Hardly a writer can be found who does not leave out relatives in this way when they can be readily supplied in the mind of the reader. Thus,—
These are the sounds we feed upon.—Fletcher.
I visited many other apartments, but shall not trouble my reader with all the curiosities I observed.—Swift.
Put in the relatives who, which, or that where they are omitted from the following sentences, and see whether the sentences are any smoother or clearer:—
1. The insect I am now describing lived three years,—Goldsmith.
2. They will go to Sunday schools through storms their brothers are afraid of.—Holmes.
3. He opened the volume he first took from the shelf.—G. Eliot.
4. He could give the coals in that queer coal scuttle we read of to his poor neighbor.—Thackeray.
5. When Goldsmith died, half the unpaid bill he owed to Mr. William Filby was for clothes supplied to his nephew.—Forster
6. The thing I want to see is not Redbook Lists, and Court Calendars, but the life of man in England.—Carlyle.
7. The material they had to work upon was already democratical by instinct and habitude.—Lowell.
Relative omitted when subject.
130.We often hear in spoken English expressions like these:—
There isn’t one here knows how to play ball.
There was such a crowd went, the house was full.
Here the omitted relative would be in the nominative case. Also in literary English we find the same omission. It is rare in prose, and comparatively so in poetry. Examples are,—
The silent truth that it was she was superior.—Thackeray
I have a mind presages me such thrift.—Shakespeare.
There is a nun in Dryburgh bower,Ne’er looks upon the sun.—Scott.
And you may gather garlands thereWould grace a summer queen.—Id.
‘Tis distance lends enchantment to the view.—Campbell.
Exercises on the Relative Pronoun.
(a) Bring up sentences containing ten instances of the relatives who, which, that, and what.
(b) Bring up sentences having five indefinite relatives.
(c) Bring up five sentences having indirect questions introduced by pronouns.
(d) Tell whether the pronouns in the following are interrogatives, simple relatives, or indefinite relatives:—
1. He ushered him into one of the wherries which lay ready to attend the Queen’s barge, which was already proceeding.
2. The nobles looked at each other, but more with the purpose to see what each thought of the news, than to exchange any remarks on what had happened.
3. Gracious Heaven! who was this that knew the word?
4. It needed to be ascertained which was the strongest kind of men; who were to be rulers over whom.
5. He went on speaking to who would listen to him.
6. What kept me silent was the thought of my mother.
Function of adjective pronouns.
131.Most of the words how to be considered are capable of a double use,—they may be pure modifiers of nouns, or they may stand for nouns. In the first use they are adjectives; in the second they retain an adjective meaning, but have lost their adjective use. Primarily they are adjectives, but in this function, or use, they are properly classed as adjective pronouns.
The following are some examples of these:—
Some say that the place was bewitched.—Irving.
That mysterious realm where each shall takeHis chamber in the silent halls of death.—Bryant.
How happy is he born or taughtThat serveth not another’s will.—Wotton
That is more than any martyr can stand.—Emerson.
Adjectives, not pronouns.
Hence these words are like adjectives used as nouns, which we have seen in such expressions as, “The dead are there;” that is, a word, in order to be an adjective pronoun, must not modify any word, expressed or understood. It must come under the requirement of pronouns, and stand for a noun. For instance, in the following sentences—”The cubes are of stainless ivory, and on each is written, in letters of gold, ‘Truth;'” “You needs must play such pranks as these;” “They will always have one bank to sun themselves upon, and another to get cool under;” “Where two men ride on a horse, one must ride behind”—the words italicized modify nouns understood, necessarily thought of: thus, in the first, “each cube;” in the second, “these pranks,” in the others, “another bank,” “one man.”
Classes of adjective pronouns.
132.Adjective pronouns are divided into three classes:—
(1) DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS, such as this, that, the former, etc.
(2) DISTRIBUTIVE PRONOUNS, such as each, either, neither, etc.
(3) NUMERAL PRONOUNS, as some, any, few, many, none, all, etc.
Definition and examples.
133.A DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUN is one that definitely points out what persons or things are alluded to in the sentence.
The person or thing alluded to by the demonstrative may be in another sentence, or may be the whole of a sentence. For example, “Be that as it may” could refer to a sentiment in a sentence, or an argument in a paragraph; but the demonstrative clearly points to that thing.
The following are examples of demonstratives:—
I did not say this in so many words.
All these he saw; but what he fain had seen He could not see.
Beyond that I seek not to penetrate the veil.
How much we forgive in those who yield us the rare spectacle of heroic manners!
The correspondence of Bonaparte with his brother Joseph, when the latter was the King of Spain.
Such are a few isolated instances, accidentally preserved.
Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.
They know that patriotism has its glorious opportunities and its sacred duties. They have not shunned the one, and they have well performedthe other.
NOTE.—It will be noticed in the first four sentences that this and that are inflected for number.
(a) Find six sentences using demonstrative adjective pronouns.
(b) In which of the following is these a pronoun?—
1. Formerly the duty of a librarian was to keep people as much as possible from the books, and to hand these over to his successor as little worn as he could.—Lowell.
2. They had fewer books, but these were of the best.—Id.
3. A man inspires affection and honor, because he was not lying in wait for these.—Emerson
4. Souls such as these treat you as gods would.—Id.
5. These are the first mountains that broke the uniform level of the earth’s surface.—Agassiz
Definition and examples.
134.The DISTRIBUTIVE PRONOUNS are those which stand for the names of persons or things considered singly.
Some of these are simple pronouns; for example,—
They stood, or sat, or reclined, as seemed good to each.
As two yoke devils sworn to other’s purpose.
Their minds accorded into one strain, and made delightful music which neither could have claimed as all his own.
Two are compound pronouns,—each other, one another. They may be separated into two adjective pronouns; as,
We violated our reverence each for the other’s soul. —Hawthorne.
More frequently they are considered as one pronoun.
They led one another, as it were, into a high pavilion of their thoughts.—Hawthorne.
Men take each other’s measure when they react.—Emerson.
Exercise.—Find sentences containing three distributive pronouns.
Definition and examples.
135.The NUMERAL PRONOUNS are those which stand for an uncertain number or quantity of persons or things.
The following sentences contain numeral pronouns:—
Trusting too much to others’ care is the ruin of many.
‘Tis of no importance how large his house, you quickly come to the end of all.
Another opposes him with sound argument.
It is as if one should be so enthusiastic a lover of poetry as to care nothing for Homer or Milton.
There were plenty more for him to fall in company with, as some of the rangers had gone astray.
The Soldan, imbued, as most were, with the superstitions of his time, paused over a horoscope.
If those [taxes] were the only ones we had to pay, we might the more easily discharge them.
Much might be said on both sides.
If hand of mine another’s task has lightened.It felt the guidance that it does not claim.So perish all whose breast ne’er learned to glowFor others‘ good, or melt for others‘ woe.
None shall rule but the humble.
Some inflected.
It will be noticed that some of these are inflected for case and number; such as one other, another.
The word one has a reflexive form; for example,—
One reflexive.
The best way to punish oneself for doing ill seems to me to go and do good.—Kingsley.
The lines sound so prettily to one’s self.—Holmes.
Exercise.—Find sentences containing ten numeral pronouns.
Definition and examples.
136.Indefinite pronouns are words which stand for an indefinite number or quantity of persons or things; but, unlike adjective pronouns, they are never used as adjectives.
Most of them are compounds of two or more words:—
Somebody, some one, something; anybody, any one (or anyone), anything; everybody, every one (or everyone), everything;nobody, no one, nothing; somebody else, anyone else, everybody else, every one else, etc.; also aught, naught; andsomewhat, what, and they.
The following sentences contain indefinite pronouns:—
As he had them of all hues, he hoped to fit everybody’s fancy.
Every one knows how laborious the usual method is of attaining to arts and sciences.
Nothing sheds more honor on our early history than the impression which these measures everywhere produced in America.
Let us also perform something worthy to be remembered.
William of Orange was more than anything else a religious man.
Frederick was discerned to be a purchaser of everything that nobody else would buy.
These other souls draw me as nothing else can.
The genius that created it now creates somewhat else.
Every one else stood still at his post.
That is perfectly true: I did not want anybody else’s authority to write as I did.
They indefinite means people in general; as,—
At lovers’ perjuries, they say, Jove laughs.—Shakespeare.
What indefinite is used in the expression “I tell you what.” It means something, and was indefinite in Old English.
Now, in building of chaises, I tell you what,There is always somewhere a weakest spot.
Exercise.—Find sentences with six indefinite pronouns.
137.Some indefinite pronouns are inflected for case, as shown in the words everybody’s, anybody else’s, etc.
See also “Syntax” (Sec. 426) as to the possessive case of the forms with else.
A reminder.
138.In parsing pronouns the student will need particularly to guard against the mistake of parsing words according to form instead of according to function or use.
Parse in full the pronouns in the following sentences:—
1. She could not help laughing at the vile English into which they were translated.
2. Our readers probably remember what Mrs. Hutchinson tells us of herself.
3. Whoever deals with M. de Witt must go the plain way that he pretends to, in his negotiations.
4. Some of them from whom nothing was to be got, were suffered to depart; but those from whom it was thought that anything could be extorted were treated with execrable cruelty.
5. All was now ready for action.
6. Scarcely had the mutiny broken up when he was himself again.
7. He came back determined to put everything to the hazard.
8. Nothing is more clear than that a general ought to be the servant of his government, and of no other.
9. Others did the same thing, but not to quite so enormous an extent.
10. On reaching the approach to this about sunset of a beautiful evening in June, I first found myself among the mountains,—a feature of natural scenery for which, from my earliest days, it was not extravagant to say that I hungered and thirsted.
11. I speak of that part which chiefly it is that I know.
12. A smaller sum I had given to my friend the attorney (who was connected with the money lenders as their lawyer), to which, indeed, he was entitled for his unfurnished lodgings.
13. Whatever power the law gave them would be enforced against me to the utmost.
14. O thou that rollest above, round as the shield of my fathers!
15. But there are more than you ever heard of who die of grief in this island of ours.
16. But amongst themselves is no voice nor sound.
17. For this did God send her a great reward.
18. The table was good; but that was exactly what Kate cared little about.
19. Who and what was Milton? That is to say, what is the place which he fills in his own vernacular literature?
20. These hopes are mine as much as theirs.
21. What else am I who laughed or wept yesterday, who slept last night like a corpse?
22. I who alone am, I who see nothing in nature whose existence I can affirm with equal evidence to my own, behold now the semblance of my being, in all its height, variety, and curiosity reiterated in a foreign form.
What hand but would a garland cullFor thee who art so beautiful?
And I had done a hellish thing,And it would work ’em woe.
25. Whatever he knows and thinks, whatever in his apprehension is worth doing, that let him communicate.
26. Rip Van Winkle was one of those foolish, well-oiled dispositions, who take the world easy, eat white bread or brown, whichever can be got with least thought or trouble.
And will your mother pity me,Who am a maiden most forlorn?
They know not I knew thee,Who knew thee too well.
I did remind thee of our own dear Lake,By the old Hall which may be mine no more.
He sate him down, and seized a pen, and tracedWords which I could not guess of.
Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow:Such as creation’s dawn beheld, thou rollest now.
Wild Spirit which art moving everywhere;Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh, hear!
33. A smile of hers was like an act of grace.
34. No man can learn what he has not preparation for learning.
35. What can we see or acquire but what we are?
36. He teaches who gives, and he learns who receives.
37. We are by nature observers; that is our permanent state.
38. He knew not what to do, and so he read.
39. Who hears me, who understands me, becomes mine.
40. The men who carry their points do not need to inquire of their constituents what they should say.
41. Higher natures overpower lower ones by affecting them with a certain sleep.
42. Those who live to the future must always appear selfish to those who live to the present.
43. I am sorry when my independence is invaded or when a gift comes from such as do not know my spirit.
44. Here I began to howl and scream abominably, which was no bad step towards my liberation.
45. The only aim of the war is to see which is the stronger of the two—which is the master.
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