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Tag Archives: pronouns

Last week we discussed Nouns of all varieties proper, common, abstract, concrete, count, and non-count. This week Write, Read, Watch will discuss pronouns.

I am not certain, and if you made me put money on it on Million Dollar Money Drop I would refrain, but I reckon most people originally thought that pronouns were proper nouns. At least, I did, but I was also a very imaginative and nice child (read stupid and easily fooled). Unfortunately, for me, and other children like me, pronouns are not a football team that plays in the Pro-Bowl nor are they nouns for professionals.

Pronouns are nouns that are substitutes for nouns. The more technical term is the word Pro-form.

Defined by the Oxford English Dictionary

A morpheme, word, lexical unit, or other clause constituent which concisely refers to and is used in place of a more specific expression occurring or implied elsewhere in the discourse.

The simpler version of that from Wikipedia:

A morpheme, word, lexical unit, or other clause constituent which concisely refers to and is used in place of a more specific expression occurring or implied elsewhere in the discourse.        

 

What we are trying to say here is that pronouns are words that stand in for nouns and noun phrases to both give a sense of variety and avoid a dry and repetitive tone to your writing or to stand in for other words when necessary.

Now imagine the following situation (which is fictional and in no way ever happened).

On the planet Alternate Earth 2.7, a woman named Oprah Winfrey met the homeless man with the golden announcer voice, Ted Williams and began a tawdry love affair. After many months of the tawdry love affair, the woman named Oprah Winfrey and the homeless man with the golden announcer voice, Ted Williams decided to go out to eat at WackArnold’s. At WackArnold’s, the woman named Oprah Winfrey and the homeless man with the golden announcer voice, Ted Williams decided to eat a Triple Pterodactyl Burger with extra cheese, mayo, barbeque sauce, and secret sauce on a sesame seed bun. The woman named Oprah Winfrey and the homeless man with the golden announcer voice, Ted Williams were happy with their decision to continue the tawdry love affair and to eat the Triple Pterodactyl Burger with extra cheese, mayo, barbeque sauce, and secret sauce on a sesame seed bun.

 

Now that long and silly sentence discusses a number of different noun phrases repetitively. Those noun phrases being, “woman named Oprah Winfrey”, “homeless man with the golden announcer voice, Ted Williams”, “a tawdry love affair”, “Triple Pterodactyl Burger with extra cheese, mayo, barbeque sauce, and secret sauce on a sesame seed bun.” A long list of noun phrases but with Pronouns, we can shorten the above paragraph significantly.

Noun Phrase Becomes Pronoun
woman named Oprah Winfrey



Not the Oprah we are looking for

Not this one an alternate one.

 

She or Her
homeless man with the golden announcer voice, Ted Williams



Ted the Homeless man with the golden voice Williams

This might be the ted williams we are looking for

 

He or Him
a tawdry love affair It
Triple Pterodactyl Burger with extra cheese, mayo, barbeque sauce, and secret sauce on a sesame seed bun

It's the chicken of the prehistoric world.

It

 

Now let us try that paragraph again

On the planet Alternate Earth 2.7, she met him and began it. After many months of it, she and he decided to go out to eat at WackArnold’s. At WackArnold’s, she and he decided to eat it. She and he were happy with their decision to continue it and to eat it.

See the difference between the two! Now of course, there exists a problem in the second version if the reader has no clue what you are talking about but there is a discernable difference. The first version is 147 words long while the second version is only 52 words long. That is a reduction by almost 2/3rd.

There are different types of pronouns. The different types are possessive, personal, relative, interrogative, demonstrative, indefinite, and reflexive.

You probably already know the Personal pronouns. Personal pronouns are: I, my, mine, me, we, our, ours, us, you, your, yours, he, his, him, she, her, hers, it, its, they, their, theirs, them. I, my, mine, and me are all first person singular personal pronouns. We, our, ours, and us are all first person plural pronouns. They are typically used to avoid Dole-isms. You never hear anyone say, “Jennifer the Writer wants some cake.” Nor do you read, “Oprah Winfrey is having a tawdry love affair,” said Oprah Winfrey. And if you do hear or read a sentence like that, you would think there was something wrong with the person saying it. At the least, it makes the person seem extremely self-absorbed. Therefore, to avoid self-absorbed language it would be more natural to say, “I want some cake,” or to write, “I am having a tawdry love affair,” said Oprah Winfrey.

Last week, we talked about a pool party with Glenn Beck and Barack Obama. Let us assume that at the pool party Barack Obama and Glenn Beck are having a Conversation.

Glenn Beck (GB): Hi, Barack Obama, are the hot dogs ready?

Barack Obama (BO): No, The hot dogs aren’t ready yet; when they are ready, I will call Glenn Beck.

Doesn’t that seem a little weird for Barack Obama to talk to Glenn Beck like that? It would be more natural for Barack Obama to answer, “No, the hot dogs aren’t ready yet, when they are ready I will call you.”

This is a more natural usage. Let us also assume that Oprah Winfrey and Ted Williams are at the pool party.

GB: Barack, Oprah wanted to know if Oprah could have two hot dogs. Oprah also wanted to know where the soda is. In addition, Oprah wanted to know where to find the sunscreen.

That sounds very annoying and weird. Even if it is correct, it comes off as repetitive and robotic. A better way for this would be to use Pronouns. First, you have to announce the proper name of the noun that you will replace in the first sentence.

GB: Barack, Oprah wanted to know if she could have two hot dogs. She also wanted to know where the soda is. In addition, she wanted to know where to find the sunscreen.

This second sentence sounds more natural using she sounds much better and unless the person you are talking to has some kind of short-term memory problem, they will know that you mean Oprah when you say she.

Now, I think I have really exceeded the length that I have intended so, I will continue with Pronouns next week. Who would have thought nouns that stand in for other nouns would have taken up so much time!

References: Oxford English Dictionary, Wikipedia, Morenberg’s Doing Grammar. And i lifted that Brontosaurus Burger Picture from the QuarryLaneFarms Blog

 


Tomorrow I will post the article for Grammar Thursday about Pronouns. I should have posted it on Thursday but I became very busy. Please enjoy this teaser video from Grammar Rock.